Smartphones the way to go at TIFF

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency
A general view of Blackberry booth at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Sonia Recchia/Getty Images/AFP)

A general view of Blackberry booth at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Sonia Recchia/Getty Images/AFP)


During a nearly full Sunday screening of Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, a woman using a magnifying glass with a built-in flashlight to read her TIFF program in the dark was rebuked by a heroic audience member who walked down more than a dozen rows from his seat to ask her to stop.

Maybe if the lady had a smartphone she wouldn't need to resort to such a low-tech way of deciding what she was going to see next. Of course, if she did have a smartphone, she probably would have just turned it on and blinded people with that instead.

Still, when used right, a smartphone is an invaluable aid to anyone who is trying to maximize their TIFF experience, thanks to the bounty of apps aimed at movie lovers and film fest fans. Here are five that no techy TIFF-goer should be without.

Official TIFF (free; iPhone and BlackBerry)

TIFF's official app is slick and reasonably robust, with film information and schedules that can be displayed by date, title or festival program, maps showing the location of each venue, lots of candid photos and the ability to share what you're seeing via Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. There's no way to actually buy movie tickets via the app, sadly, but it's a great pocket-friendly resource for most of the information you need.

IMDb (free; iPhone and Android)

If you've got a bar bet with your friend over whether the deep-voiced actor in Cloud Atlas is David Keith or Keith David (it's the latter -- the former is the guy from Behind Enemy Lines and Arli$$), the Internet Movie Database is the ultimate arbiter. The app is more than just cast and crew lists, though ... it's got movie show times, TV listings, trailers, celebrity news and a whole lot more. Indispensable.

TTC apps (various)

Celebs may get to travel by VIP town cars, but the rest of us plebes generally have to resort to public transit. There are several TTC-tracking apps out there, but the ones we prefer best are Rocket Man and TTC Watch for Toronto (both free for the iPhone) and Transit Now for Toronto ($1.99; Android). All three let you pinpoint the closest transit stop, telling you what route it's on and when the next streetcar or bus will arrive. TTC Watch for Toronto goes further by even letting you set an alert to tell you when you've reached your stop.

Instagram (free, iPhone and Android)

Future societies will look back at this period in time and wonder why all our digital photographs are grainy, yellowed or oddly saturated. For now, people still love using Instagram and its wide array of retro-flavoured photo filters. But Instagram is also a fun and very easy way to instantly share photos with other users of the app, or post them to Twitter or Facebook. To prove that yes, you really did run into Bruce Willis on the street.

In the Dark ($1.99, Android)

As we said, nothing is worse than having your immersing movie experience shattered by some idiot checking a message on his blindingly bright smartphone screen. Toronto film fan Kyle Goomansingh came up with In the Dark as a way to combat the problem -- the Android app lets users check text messages and emails while keeping the screen extremely dim, with grey-on-black lettering. However, there's another solution that works even better and costs nothing: leave the phone in your pocket and just enjoy the film.