Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 9/18/2020

by Just Juan
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Earlier this week, one of the past memories that popped up on my Facebook feed was a picture of me at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. I remember it like yesterday. It was definitely a great time. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: attending TIFF.

How I first came across this moment? Back in April 2013, when I developed my bucket list, attending the Toronto International Film Festival was one of the marquee additions. It was a slam dunk that it would be one of the 75 items chosen from the over 500 original items I selected from. I made a very late decision to attend in 2013, purchasing the film tickets, airfare, and hotel accommodations with portions of my first paycheck from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I wanted to check out The Fifth Estate, which was the opening film, but it was sold out…as was 12 Years a Slave. I ended up getting a ticket for Life of Crime—that year’s closing film—along with Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Cold Eyes, Khumba, 1982, and Half of a Yellow Sun. It was my Toronto debut so I made a trip of it.

What it meant to me then? In the moment, it was a fascinating experience. Being around other film lovers and talking about different genres was enlightening. It didn’t hurt at all that I was able to see films that wouldn’t be hitting the streets for several months. I felt like I had a leg up on everybody. I was particularly touched by the Mandela and Khumba films. Those were my favorites of the entire festival. Life of Crime somewhat disappointed me but the after party didn’t. I actually got a chance to meet Mos Def, which was actually pretty cool. I enjoyed it.

What it means to me now? It’s been 7 years since I attended TIFF and I still think highly of it. The bucket list item is clearly complete so there really isn’t a need to go back but the experience was too phenomenal for me not to. Obviously, we’re in a global pandemic so attending this year’s festival was a no-go. In fact, it’s actually going on right now…mostly through online streaming. I think I’ll shoot for the 2023 TIFF and make it a 10-year thing going forward.

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