Angered to the breaking point by the use of cellphones during a movie screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, one movie blogger decided to file a formal complaint with the local police.
We've all been there, but FirstShowing.net's Alex Billington went a step further by calling 911 to report a man using his cellphone during a showing of Ti West’s The Sacrament.
Billington initially complained to TIFF officials, who told him cellphone use was allowed inside the theater.
Not willing to bow to policy, Billington "elevated" the situation by calling 911 and reporting the man on suspicion of piracy.
Here, in part, is a statement he later sent to BuzzFeed:
The man in the front row had his phone out pointed towards the screen for the first 10 minutes. I complained once to the theater managers, who looked and said there was no one with their phone on. I returned, and 5 minutes later he had his phone out again in front of him, pointed towards the screen. I thought I might be witnessing an act of piracy, a major crime being committed, and wished to report it to the proper authorities.
The call made was to report an act of piracy in progress, a major crime that many signs around TIFF remind people is a punishable offense. I simply requested that an officer confront and confirm that he was not pirating.
The Associated Press reports that the emergency dispatcher "laughed at his complaint," so Billington did what any blogger who has failed to get his way through proper channel does: He took his fight to Twitter.
Hi @Ti_West I'm trying to watch your film but guy in front row keeps using phone and theater tells me he is allowed. Ruining the experience.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
Just told by TIFF that industry have the RIGHT to blatantly use phones in the film. They will 'take my complaints' but nothing can be done.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
They also claim that I am the only one who has ever complained about cell phone use at TIFF. So it's now a major campaign to take action.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
I was afraid this would reach a head and this is it. They claim nothing can be done to 'change the policy' in 2013 because it's allowed.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
I cannot believe that TIFF is allowing this disregard for the integrity of cinema and letting disgusting industry ruin experiences. #TIFF13— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
The theater managers claim he was 'watching the film' (while using his phone) and that I was disrupting because I complained. So sad. #TIFF— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
Some movie bloggers agreed with Billington, saying they were seriously considering a TIFF boycott if the policy remained unchanged.
Others, like Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta, reminded Billington that 911 "is for serious emergencies only."
But Billington naturally reserved the last word for himself — a self-congratulatory Steve Jobs quote:
I'm trying to make a difference for the better, if that's so grating I'm sorry. Changes need to be made and drastic measures are called for.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
"You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things."— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 9, 2013
[photo via Shutterstock]