TIFF 2019

This September, a group of students interested in film traveled to Toronto, Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with Dr. Craven. Lisa Crum, Edward Kirchoff, Abigail Breckbill, Andrew Ciardullo, Morgan Firestone, John Simpson, and Jacob Dickens traveled on a bus for eight hours to see a wide-variety of new films.

TIFF was founded in 1976 as an aggregate of other festival films and has since become “one of the most beloved cinematic events in the world, universally regarded as an ideal platform for filmmakers to launch their careers and to premiere their new work,” according to its website.

Lisa, Abigail, and Morgan sitting in a theater before a film screening. Photo credit: Abigail Breckbill

Abigail Breckbill, fifth year writing studies major, was one of the students on the trip. She wrote a quick blurb about how TIFF impacted her MU classes, what her favorite moments and films were, and how the trip will impact her future.

“I’m taking a film course this semester, so attending TIFF really felt like an extension of that class. It gave me a chance to be in a room with people from all over the world who love film. I also got to talk with many people (including Millersville peers) and hear what they appreciate about film. One of my favorite moments at TIFF was during a film which dealt with cancer and was incredibly heart-wrenching. Toward the end, the entirety of the auditorium was sniffling, and for me that was a very real, human moment in which we were all connected by something bigger. I love that film is able to do that for people, and I found that moment inspiring as someone who wants to create content for an audience to enjoy and be affected by.

Dancers standing before the dragon statue at the 2019 Toronto Dragon Festival. Photo credit: Andrew Ciardullo

“My favorite film was also the film that was hardest to watch. The Report was about the investigation into the CIA’s use of torture following 9/11. It was a very gripping story, especially knowing that it was based on true events. It also made the depictions of torture incredibly difficult to witness. At the end of the film, the panel presentation included Daniel Jones himself, the man who conducted much of the research. It was incredibly amazing to see a man who is a real-life hero.

“This trip was an opportunity for me to experience a community outside of my own country. I think it affected me long term in that it slightly added to my view of the world as a whole, and allowed me to experience film in a way I never had before. In the future I would love to go back, and I think I will continue to grow in my love of film as an art.”

John Simpson, a third-year media and broadcasting major, also wrote how TIFF impacted his college experience.

“The trip to the Toronto International Film Festival was an experience I will be forever grateful to have had. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I always felt far removed from the film industry. Sometimes it feels like they people within the business don’t really exist, like they’re characters presented to us in media. So it was definitely an interesting experience to see these people in front of my eyes instead of an interview or up on the screen. Seeing directors and actors I admire in person was somehow fulfilling, like their existence was confirmed to me and the film-making dream is real. This feeling was particularly potent when watching Color out of Space at midnight. It was the world premiere of the film so most of the cast and crew were there at the screening, including Nicolas Cage who sat two rows behind us. Getting to be in the heart of the film industry was an electrifying experience that will stick with me forever.

Cast of the HG Lovecraft film Color out of Space, including Nicholas Cage (second from the left), give a panel presentation after the screening. Photo credit: Jill Craven

“The films I saw at the festival ranged from family drama, horror, science fiction, and more. The wonderful thing about TIFF was the diversity of films there. I watched so many different artistic voices up on the big screen and when the filmmakers were there, it made it an almost personal experience, like they were sharing their story with the audience. I did not like every film I saw, but I enjoyed being at all of the screenings. It was rare to see films of these types have fully packed theaters, but you could tell that all of the audience members truly love film and attending the festival. I was seeing movies that will most likely not be remembered in the grand scheme of 21st century cinema, but regardless, I am pleased with what I saw at the festival.

“As someone who loves cinema, this trip made me grateful I am attending Millersville University. In this area of PA there is not a whole lot of love given to independent and international cinema, so when this opportunity was given to students, I happily jumped aboard. Experiencing Toronto and TIFF is one of the highlights of my college experience so far and I am thankful to the University and Dr. Jill Craven for allowing this to happen. I think if someone is interested in film or international art, then this trip is a fantastic gateway to experience one of the largest annual events for film. I do hope that this opportunity will continue for years to come as it has made a positive impact on my attendance at Millersville, and I would like many more students to experience it as well.”

Jacob Dickens, another student who attended TIFF this past fall, wrote an article for The Snapper about his experiences. “For two weeks in the cool air of Toronto, Canada, some of the biggest names in American and foreign films gathered to show off their newest works. In total, I managed to catch about fourteen films during my trip there. I had made over 70 thousand steps in the four days the Millersville Study Abroad group was at the festival while walking back and forth between two theatres that were almost thirty minutes apart.” Read the full article here!Β 

Much thanks to Ieva Zake, Dean of Humanities and Social Science, and Vilas Prabhu, Provost, for making this trip possible.

Title image photo credit: Abigail Breckbill