Spotlight On: Toronto Urban Film Festival

Spotlight On: Toronto Urban Film Festival

As you trundle about on Toronto’s subway system for the next two weeks, you might notice something interesting. When you divert your weary commuter eyes up to the nearest TTC screen to find out exactly how long you have have to wait ’til your train arrives, you’ll be greeted with cinema. Yep, the Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF) is back. For 10 glorious days from September 7 to September 17, one minute films will be screening every  10 Minutes on 300 screens across the Toronto subway system.

Each year, running parallel to Toronto’s mega film festival TIFF, TUFF collects and screens submissions from filmmakers around the world and capitalizes on those TTC screens and the millions of daily eyeballs who watch them. Now in its 6th year, the 2012 edition of TUFF received 410 submissions from 31 countries, and will be showing 65 official festival selections to both Toronto’s daily commuters and the  hordes  of film fans who descend on the city each September.

Does this sound like a brilliant idea? If you said yes, you’re not alone. According to festival director Sharon Switzer, it’s a common reaction. “I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think it’s a great idea,” says Sharon. “The work is great, the ingenuity in these one minute films is astounding, and it just grows every year.”

TUFF is co-produced by Pattison Onestop and Art for Commuters, creating a confluence of circumstances that lead to this very innovative festival. Pattison Onestop has the screens that need content and Art for Commuters has a commitment to producing  unique, thought-provoking public art projects. And voila – TUFF. Having evolved from a simple photo project, TUFF is now part of the excitement and energy that permeates Toronto during the 10 days of TIFF.

“When we thought about when to run it and how to position it, during TIFF seemed like a good option,” says Switzer. “The city has a great energy during that time,  but the real point is to reach over a million commuters every day.”

This year TUFF will be screening 7 programs of 9 films each across the TTC screens, with an additional program, “Too TUFF for the TTC” hosted on the TUFF website. You can catch the programs at any subway station on a 10 minute loop. You can also catch all TUFF all the time on designated film zone screens at downtown subway stations.  Screens located at Bloor (north and southbound platforms), St. Andrew (southbound platform), and Dundas (southbound platform) will show the TUFF films in a continuous loop.

If you don’t feel like hanging around a subway station, you can also catch all the TUFF films on a continuous loop at the Drake Hotel on September 14, 15, and 16, 2012. It’s a drop-in situation, so round up your friends, grab a drink, and settle in for some amazing cinema delivered in bite-sized one minute pieces. You can also view TUFF films from this year on the TUFF website starting on September 5. While you’re there, browse through the 6 year  catalogue  of films hosted on the site.

For more detailed information about TUFF screening times and places and more detailed program information, visit TUFF at  http://www.torontourbanfilmfestival.com. Or just keep your eyes peeled while out on the TTC.

About The Author

Brandy Dean is the owner of the digital marketing consultancy Pretty Clever Things and the editor, writer, and janitorial staff for the film blog Pretty Clever Films. She likes dogs, poutine, silent movies, and hockey, not necessarily in that order.

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