Two important press & industry screenings were disrupted at TIFF yesterday as there were digital cinema issues at the Scotiabank.
After the 9 am screening of Alexander Payne’s The Descendants started 66 minutes late, the subsequent Scotiabank 1 first P&I screening of Fernando Mereilles’ 360 got started 70 minutes late.
“It was a delay in ingesting the DCP [for The Descendants], and that is caused partly because we have so many DCPs [digital dinema packages],” Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-director, explained to Screen. “This year, we did increase capacity a significant amount compared to last year, but also the number of DCPs being used has increased significantly.”
For Fox Searchlight, The Descendants snafu must have seemed like déjà vu - A similar problem arose last year with Searchlight’s127 Hours (another high-profile awards title being unspooled for the first time), which started 70 minutes late on the first Saturday of TIFF at Scotiabank (that was due to a shuffling of screenings after a subtitle problem at Little White Lies at another cinema).
Of course, TIFF is not the only organisation to be affected by the growing pains of digital innovations. “What happens is when a new technology comes on board we all react to it, it is always presents changes and challenges for our technical teams,” Bailey said.
Bailey said of Saturday’s delays: “Of course we never want this to happen, not just for the attendees waiting around, but also for the companies that trust us with their films. Any time that a screening is unduly delayed, we talk to them about adding an additional screening. Those discussions are still happening now.”
Wild Bunch, which is handling international sales on 360, had no comment on the delay.
TIFF also encountered some sound problems during the world premiere of 360 on Friday night, causing screenwriter Peter Morgan to leave the stage during the Q&A after the film.
And another tech problem had also delayed The Killer Elite’s press screening Friday morning by about a half hour.
In other schedule changes, the 2:15 pm P&I screening of Markus Schleinzer’s Michael was cancelled on Friday and TIFF said a new screening would likely be added, but that schedule was unavailable as of press time.
Other logistical challenges at TIFF 2011 have included a faulty down escalator at Scotiabank, and the crowds and delays at the two elevators at the packed Bell Lightbox. Taking the stairs isn’t always a viable option — Screen encountered one sales agent who had been locked in a stairwell for 15 minutes on Saturday.
“We had to react to the volume of people going to the sixth floor for press conferences and also the event space,” Bailey said. “Once we saw issues, we responded to it and I think it’s running better now.”
Bailey apologised for the issues but did point out that they were isolated in the large festival. “We have over 300 screenings, and that means dozens of screenings are running simultaneously. The overwhelming majority of those are running quite smoothly.”