So, 12 films in 10 days! It’s not perhaps the most ambitious schedule, but for me it’s the most I’ll have ever seen in one go. The festival has been around longer than I have, but I only became actively interested in it the last few years. I have always loved film, but in years past I’ve been lucky to see 4 movies tops. At the mercy of an unpredictable work schedule, I didn’t have the option of really planning my own attendance and usually just tagged along to films that Chantelle and Allison were already seeing. But every visit gave me a taste of how exciting it is, and made me want more.

I love TIFF because it’s so…egalitarian. With the exception of opening and closing night events the festival is open to the public. Sure those who purchase ticket packs have first crack at the choice seating times, but tickets in general are up for grabs to whoever wants them. Filmmakers and directors come from all over the world and get to sit in the audience while the general public views their art for the first time, and they get invaluable real-time feedback. And we get info from the creators that usually we have to wait for DVD commentary to hear. Frankly, as busy and crowded as the festival can be I don’t understand why more people don’t come out for it. Oh well, better seats for me!

This year I was able to sit down and consider the options at my leisure and put together a wish-list. Chantelle, being a super-champ, managed to wrangle it all together and come up with a workable calendar for the three of us. They are seeing a few films that I’m not, and I have a few that I’m going to alone or with Billy, so what follows is my personal schedule for the festival.

The Act of Killing brings Viggo Mortensen back to TIFF (probably bearing his Habs flag)! It’s strange how I adopted Chantelle’s Viggo/TIFF obsession, but now it seems mandatory to see a Viggo flick if there is one. In this he plays his own twin with what I can only hope are sexy results. Crime, swapped identities, Viggo speaking Spanish – it has a lot to offer. The director, Ana Piterbarg has never produced a feature film before, so it should be interesting to see how her television background translates.

Cloud Atlas is the only one I’ll actually be seeing solo, so another first. The trailer drew me in, and even though it sort of looks like The Matrix meets The Fountain I can’t say that sounds like a bad thing. I have not read the book, so I’m going into it unspoiled and can’t wait to see if the sumptuous visuals will compete or complement what looks to be a very complex story line. I don’t know how I feel about seeing Tom Hanks and Halle Berry make out, but I will reserve judgement for now.

The Hunt, as many people have said, looks to be one of the most controversial films of the whole festival. I am sure that it’s going to be hard to watch, but it’s a story that still needs to be told, and Mads Mikkelsen is very brave for taking on the lead role. The story about a man accused of child molestation promises to be full of uncertainty, and I wonder if by the end they will give us a concrete answer to the question of his guilt, or if it will leave us with more questions.

There are a few Japanese films playing this year that I was interested in seeing, but Key of Life is the one that interested Chantelle too so I’ll have company! Japanese films are near and dear to my heart, and it even shares a cast member with Departures which I loves. I like my Japanese comedies wacky and full of hijinks, and expect expect plenty from this story of an appropriated life.

I can’t believe we got tickets to Great Expectations. Dickens! Ralph Fiennes! Helena Bonham Carter doing period drama work again! Another adaptation for which I haven’t read the book or watched a version of (does seeing that South Park episode count?), so I won’t have anything to compare it to. I hope it stands up on its own merits.

I hadn’t intended to see A Royal Affair, but Allison and Chantelle are going, and I do love galas. A few years ago I went to see Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky with them, and ended up loving it. So if they’re going to another historical love drama staring Mads…I’d be crazy not to go with them!

Sightseers is another one I didn’t chose myself, but Chantelle has never steered me wrong before. She took me to see The Trip last year and said that this will be similar. From TIFF’s description it looks like The Trip meets Hot Fuzz!

I picked Laurence Anyways, and am very excited. A man realizing that he’s a trans-women is a life-changing experience, but hard to navigate still while in a relationship. Trans issues are still so misunderstood, even in 2012, and I have high hopes for this story and the impact it has the potential to make.

Much Ado About Nothing is such a SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY must-see, I couldn’t select it fast enough. Joss Whedon is taking on Shakespeare and modernizing it, Luhrmann-style. He’s even using a handful of his pocket cast of actors, all of whom have earned my loyalty as a viewer. I am just too excited to see this and hope I don’t let myself down with hopes too high.

Of all the films I’ve chosen Painless is the only one I’m questioning, and I’m the one who picked it. I don’t particularly know why I want to see Painless – I’m a pretty big baby when it comes to horror. I’ve passed up two opportunities to see Antiviral, despite it sounding awesome, and won’t be attending The Lords of Salem with my friends who are coming all the way from Buffalo to see it. But Painless sounds compelling enough that I am willing to brave it. Fortunately Chantelle will be there to tell me what I missed when I end up watching the whole thing through my hands.

After seeing the bloody hilarious Violet & Daisy last year (and seeing Hanna in regular theatres) I’ve decided to make my own TIFF actor tradition with Saoirse Ronan. The fact that she’ll be playing a vampire in Byzantium, and it’s directed by Neil Jordan and SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

The Act of Killing is the last film I’ll attend, and it’s sure to end things on a down note. But the concept has me intrigued. Warlords reenacting murders in Hollywood style, I just don’t know what to expect. I don’t watch a lot of documentaries, and since this is the only one I’ll be attending I hope I’ve chosen well.

I feel pretty good about my schedule – it’s not too overloaded, and is pretty balanced between drama, comedy, true life and fantasy. I look at the hours of the day when I won’t be seeing movies and want to panic-buy more movies, but I know that I need to play this cool and not burn out. I can’t believe things kick off this week. I can’t wait to get things started!