TIFF 2017: Five things to expect when watching a movie at the Cinesphere

We saw Dunkirk at the Ontario Place IMAX theatre last week. Here’s what to look out for at the TIFF's North of Superior screenings


Although I had seen Dunkirk in theatres when it came out earlier this summer, I was excited to see it again at the Ontario Place Cinesphere. The world’s first permanent IMAX theatre built in 1971 has been renovated and reopened for special screenings during the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF plans to continue using the 615-seat theatre in the future for more immersive film experiences.

A screening of Christopher Nolan’s war movie on IMAX wasn’t the only reason why fans lined up along the lakeshore on September 10. The director was in attendance to introduce the film and for a Q&A with TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey after the movie.

On September 17, TIFF will present three screenings of North Of Superior, the iconic Canadian documentary that premiered at the Cinesphere in 1971. The first screening at 2 pm will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Graeme Ferguson. Then there will be two additional screenings without the director at 3 pm and 4 pm.

Here’s what to expect:

1. If you don’t have a ticket already, your chances of getting a seat in the RUSH line are slim.

At the screening of Dunkirk, anyone with a general admission ticket was allocated to a seat in the lower half of the theatre, while seats in the preferable upper half were all reserved. There wasn’t a single seat available by the time the show started, so prepare to arrive early if you want a good spot.

2. Stadium seating means no one’s view is obstructed.

I’m on the smaller side and sometimes have trouble seeing over people’s heads in theatres. At the Cinesphere this wasn’t a problem at all. Seats were very comfortable for the nearly two-hour screening of Dunkirk, and leg room was ample. Plus, it meant I got a clear, unobstructed view of Harry Styles’s handsome face, which looked excellent in IMAX.

3. You might get motion sickness.

The screen is large and seats, especially in the lower half of the cinema are very close to the screen. This was a cool experience because you really feel immersed in the movie, but during action shots or whenever the camera work was rocky, my eyes took time to adjust. I was actually scared that the person behind me, who moaned through a few of those moments, might vomit on the back of my head. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but you’ve been warned.

4. The space isn’t super accessible.

To get to the Cinesphere, there are stairs up to Ontario Place, then a long glass corridor that reaches the theatre. Inside the theatre, all but one row requires going up or down stairs. For those with mobility issues, the Cinesphere isn’t the easiest venue to navigate.

5. Getting to hear one of your favourite directors do a Q&A is, in fact, very cool and worth going to hear.

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan for many years, and getting to hear him discuss the making of Dunkirk and reference some of his previous films – including Following, his first feature, which had its premiere at TIFF in 1998 – was special. I think most members of the audience had already seen Dunkirk and were there as Nolan fans as well. Getting to hear Graeme Ferguson speak after the North Of Superior screening next weekend will undoubtedly be a treat for fans.

michelled@nowtoronto.com | @michdas

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