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Virtual festivals certainly allow greater access to far-flung audiences who – for one reason or another – cannot attend in-person. I have been fortunate enough over the past dozen or so years to be able to drive from Cincinnati to Toronto to cover TIFF. It goes without saying that I’ve missed the experience since 2019…thanks to the global pandemic, but I’ve appreciated the virtual option in the COVID years.

I can’t quite describe the feeling of being back in-person this year. Like always I drove up a day early with my friend and fellow Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival programmer and after breezing across the border, we made a quick pitstop at our hotel before walking over to festival central to pick up our press badges and refamiliarize ourselves with the scene.

I’m wearing multiple hats this year – still (as always) covering the event for Fox19 and this here blog, but also boosting my curatorial role from programmer to artistic director for one of the ’25 Coolest Festivals in the World’ (MovieMaker Magazine) – which means I’ve got to see “everything everywhere” from a variety of perspectives “all at once”. Films, micro-sessions, meet & greets, the city, and maybe most important of all, the massive audience of faithful film fans who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  

There’s a lesson in mindfulness and intentionality for me over the next five days. I will share what I am seeing with you as much as possible, but remember (this is as much for me as it is for you readers), there’s more to see than just what flickers on those screens. I’m going to do the best I can to show you all that TIFF has to offer, and maybe figure out how to bring some more of that magic back to the Queen City!