TORONTO – Drake’s scrubbed appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival may have left some fans upset, but the two could still collaborate in the future, suggests the artistic director of TIFF.
The Toronto rapper cancelled his highly anticipated appearance at a screening of “Monsters and Men” with only a few hours of notice on Sept. 6, the first day of the festival, saying he couldn’t make it because of his tour.
Some fans complained that they’d shelled out good money for a ticket to the event, which also included access to the festival’s exclusive opening-night party.
TIFF artistic director and future co-head Cameron Bailey says the festival was “disappointed” but adds he understands “things can change.”
“We’re hoping that since Drake is so committed to this city and so committed in a new way to film and to visual media, that there will be other opportunities for us to work together,” Bailey said in an interview.
“He’s producing now, he’s adapting the ‘Top Boy’ TV series from the U.K. for North America, he’s executive producer on ‘Monsters and Men.’ There are a lot of things he’s getting into now, and he’s working with young directors like Karena Evans.
“So I think there’s probably something in our future.”
Despite the opening-night hiccup, this year’s instalment that wraps with an awards ceremony on Sunday has been “a big success,” said Bailey.
He noted they’ve had “great audiences” and “a lot of real discoveries” of critically acclaimed films that made their world premiere at the festival, including “Green Book,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Widows.”
Questions about festival attendance arose after some posts on Twitter showed empty seats during opening-night screenings of “Monsters and Men” and “Outlaw King.”
Bailey said while they won’t know total attendance figures until after Sunday, “the houses have been, for the most part, quite full.”
“I think what sometimes happens is, we made a big effort this year to start screenings on time, as close to the scheduled start time as possible,” he said.
“What that means is sometimes when the introductions onstage start and the filmmaker starts speaking about their film, but even when the lights go down, the house is still not full and that’s because people are still coming in.”
Some festival-goers and watchers have also complained about the cost of a TIFF ticket.
Bailey noted they have $10 tickets available to those aged 25 and under for weekday, daytime screenings.
For those over 25, tickets to regular screenings are $18, “which I think is still quite reasonable for a festival ticket,” Bailey said.
When it comes to tiered pricing for venues with assigned seating, which can range from $25-$82, Bailey noted TIFF is one of the most in-demand festivals in the world with films that are being screened for the first time in Canada, if not the world.
“We’re limited in terms of the number of seats we have in even our biggest theatres. Those tickets are more expensive, there’s no doubt,” he said.
“But they’re not nearly as expensive as we see them being resold for on some of those resale sites.”
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, this year’s festival also has a newly created hotline for those who want to report harassment.
“I’ve been told by a head of HR that there was some use of the hotline,” Bailey said. “For confidentiality we can’t give more details than that but I think it’s given people a resource, some place to turn to.”