A movie blogger called 911 Monday when a texting filmgoer refused to put his cell phone away during a Toronto International Film Festival screening.
Alex Billington, owner of FirstShowing.net, attended the midnight screening of the horror movie “The Sacrament.” He complained to theater managers about a man seated up front, who wouldn't put his cell phone away. When that didn’t help, he dialed 911.
He claimed he thought the flick was being pirated and “drastic measures” had to be taken.
Billington said the emergency dispatcher laughed at his complaint. That’s when he turned to Twitter to vent.
“Arguing with theater manages that tell me that cell phones are allowed in theater while guy in FRONT ROW has it on the whole time. WTF #TIFF,” he tweeted.
Cell phones are commonly used in these screenings as members of the industries are in and out, dealing with other matters or attending different screenings.
According to Buzzfeed, he tweeted about calling police, but deleted it.
Then he made an appeal to the film’s director Ti West.
“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.”
TIFF officials told Billington that using phones is allowed and that the man in question was only texting.
“They also claim that I am the only one who has ever complained about cell phone use at TIFF,” he wrote. “So it's now a major campaign to take action.”
“I cannot believe that TIFF is allowing this disregard for the integrity of cinema and letting disgusting industry ruin experiences. #TIFF13”
The response on Twitter was mixed. Many were critical of the fact that Billington would call an emergency service that deals with “life & death” situations over something that is neither dangerous nor an emergency.
“I'm trying to make a difference for the better, if that's so grating I'm sorry,” he responded. “Changes need to be made and drastic measures are called for.”