Heineken gets TUFFer

The beerco expands its commuter entertainment offering of non-stop shorts at Heineken Film Zones during the Toronto Urban Film Festival.

Heineken Canada, Onestop Media Group and Art for Commuters are making the most of filmgoing fever this time of year. As part of their third annual Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF), Toronto commuters get to watch uninterrupted continuous streams of 1-minute silent films on vinyl-wrapped Heineken Film Zones during the run of the festival, Sept. 11 – 20.

Uninterrupted by news, weather, sports or even advertising, the films – 75 in all – will air on Onestop’s digital network, located on the north and south platforms of the main hub of Toronto’s transit system – the Bloor subway station, which gets over 377,000 commuters passing through its turnstiles daily. The film zones themselves are expected to reach 190,000 people a day. The zones within the station will be dedicated to films non-stop, and unlike last year, where commuters caught films on the fly as they waited for their train, now they can go to the Heineken Film Zones which screen all the day’s films for over 15 minutes of uninterruped shorts.

‘At the end of the day, our environment’s conducive to a more captive audience,’ Michael Girgis, CEO of Onestop Media Group and both co- producer and founding partner of the event, tells MiC. ‘What we’re trying to do is provide them with a little more entertainment value as they wait for a train. We started with news, sports and weather and we’re adding film festivals and photography festivals and highlighting art so I think it’s just part of our philosophy in being a digital OOH operator in a very public environment.’

‘TTC is a cross-section of Toronto,’ Girgis tells MiC, adding that the TTC reaches close to 25% of the Toronto population on a daily basis, and 2% of the Canadian population a day. ‘We think the general public loves film and we’re doing it at a time when the city is celebrating film,’ says Girgis, ‘so it just makes sense that there’s a free space where, yes you may have to pay your fare but here’s a platform where artists can have films being distributed and people get access to film in a very non-traditional environment.’

The best short film fnalists were selected by a jury, and announced yesterday at a press conference in Toronto. The year’s top three were chosen by guest TUFF ambassador and judge writer/director/actor Don McKellar, who is also screening Imaginary Lovers, a multi-film installation he directed and shot on cellphone at TIFF, and appearing for the gala screening of his latest movie, Cooking with Stella. Heineken Canada is sponsoring the cash prizes to TUFF’s second and third place winners ($2,500 and $2,000 respectively). The first place prize, a trip for two to the Dominican, is being sponsored by Belair Travel, and other awards, like Most Ambitious Film by a Female Director, The Drake ‘Audience Choice’ Award, and Naish McHugh Award for Emerging Filmmakers, are being sponsored by Women in Film & Television Toronto, CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, Images Festival and the City of Toronto respectively.