Always Leave Them Wanting More: A Film Festival Looks to Its Fans

It came as no surprise that TIFF’s rare showing of the 1972 Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues sold out. The film has been under some kind of weird legal ban and hasn’t been shown officially in Toronto since 1984. But it did come as a surprise to the dozens of people who showed up at 5:30 p.m. on Friday the 17th that it sold out as quickly as it did – like several hours before the tickets were even supposed to be distributed. TIFF’s web site said that the free tickets would be doled out an hour before the screening, at 5:30 p.m., but they actually started giving them away at 10 a.m. Some latecomers were told to stand in a rush line, outside, in the cold. Inside, various customer service representatives stood around doing – well, I’m not sure what they were doing, if anything. Two of them stood off to the side smiling gaily. They had the temerity to suggest that the screw-up wasn’t really their fault; the misinformation was the result of a “broken link.” Nobody said I’m sorry, nobody apologized, and nobody bothered to explain just how an organization with a budget of $39 million a year, a good chunk of it public money, couldn’t get its schedule right. Somebody’s a dab hand with the HTML, though. Within five hours of the screening, the notice advertizing the 5:30 ticket sale was gone and the web site had been adjusted to say “sold out.” Not soon enough, though, to help the dozens left flattened by TIFF’s always glamorous ministrations.

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