Movie Blogger Calls 911 Over Cell Phone Use at Toronto Film Festival

The Sacrament 911 Call

A movie blogger irate about cellphone usage during a Toronto International Film Festival screening called 911 to report the offense.

At a midnight screening Monday, FirstShowing.net blogger Alex Billington became increasingly annoyed by constant texting and emailing at a screening for press and film industry members. After first complaining to theatre managers, Billington took the extreme step of dialling the police.

He said the emergency dispatcher laughed at his complaint, but Billington took to Twitter to vent his anger. He claimed to be concerned that the movie, the horror film The Sacrament, was being pirated, and that “drastic measures” were called for in restoring moviegoing etiquette.

“I’m just trying to fight the good fight,” wrote Billington, “even if others don’t agree with my methods.”

Billington also noted on Twitter that the cellphone user in question wasn’t a first-time offender: In a tweet sent to a California DJ, he wrote that he had “confronted the same guy before last year,” noting that cellphone use during TIFF screenings is a “big issue.

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  1. “The emergency dispatcher laughed at his complaint”. Common sense 1 – 0 Blogger with over inflated sense of entitlement.

    With regards to signal blockers. My local cinema did this a few years back, but it also blocked the signal from peoples car fobs when they were arming their alarms. As a result the cars didn’t lock. Many people did not notice and as a result had their cars broken in to.

  2. Important distinction here is that this was a screening for media.

  3. All of this drama could be avoided if all movie theaters were built into a massive Faraday cage of sorts… all signals should be blocked!

  4. Ivan says:

    Although a silly overreaction and complete misuse of 911, I’d like to see a signal blocker being activated at the beginning of every movie. This would stop anyone from using their cell or getting any outside calls. As for those who can’t deal without phone access for 2 hrs, stay at home if you really can’t survive for that long.

  5. Dave says:

    Important distinction here is that this was a screening for media. These people are working, as was the guy complaining, so it’s not unreasonable that they would be making notes. Want a true cinema experience? Don’t go to an industry screening.

  6. Paul Gratton says:

    Cell phone usage at public film festival screenings is unacceptable, but the working professionals at P&I screenings need to use their cellphones, sometimes to beat the competition at bidding for rights to the movie being screened.

  7. Aaron Magner says:

    So this guy used his phone to dial 911 while the movie was happening? isn’t that kinda contradictory? and what a jack-off. What a waste of tax-payers money.

  8. Waldo Belgard says:

    While it is rude and annoying to use a cell phone during a movie, calling 911 is just plain wrong.

  9. Nick Turner says:

    Cell phone use at movies is rude, yes. But 911? that’s like calling the cops when some idiot buys 15 grapefruits in the Limit 10 Items line at Vons.

  10. A re-education in moving theater etiquette is needed. Cell phone use in movie theaters is a major problem in NYC, as is people talking about the movie while watching it.

  11. Living the Geek Life says:

    Y’know, it’s hard to be a bigger jerk than a person using a cellphone in a movie is being. But it sounds like this guy certainly managed to do it!

    • How so? Cellphones should be turned off BEFORE you enter the movie theater. This is a HUGE problem in NYC as well – both in commercial screenings and film festivals.

      • Thinking person says:

        I cannot believe you’re trying to justify a grown man calling 911 because someone was on their cell phone during a film. It’s obviously bad theatre etiquette, but calling an emergency line? He couldn’t have thought they would take him seriously. 911 is for emergencies, not personal grievances and attempts to get your name splattered all over social media.

      • The way I see it, it was an emergency and the dispatcher should have taken it as serious as they would take a murder, or heart attack because movie watching is SERIOUS BUSINESS SIR.

      • Living the Geek Life says:

        Annoying? Yes. Worthy of hogging a 911 line? Definitely not. I hope no one actually had an emergency while this dork was using the line…

      • Because there’s only ONE 9/11 line? Get real.

      • Living the Geek Life says:

        Yeah, I’m sure the Toronto emergency services department hires an unlimited number of personnel and pays for unlimited emergency lines and equipment so that every schmuck who is upset by rudeness during a movie can call an EMERGENCY line and tie up an operator just to whine. I mean, it’s not like they are there just to help out during actual emergencies! What a waste that would be.

      • Wah wah wah… all I hear is you crying – you’re starting to emulate the thing you hate the most. Call 911 on me yarharhar

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