A night out at TIFF with the Mazda CX-9

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Arriving at TIFF, we drove through the evening’s version of a red carpet, a retro LED-lit tunnel, and were safely ushered to our parking space at the front of the lot—with a spare spot between us and other cars. We snapped photos of the stunning skyline in the background, and opened the trunk—which rises with a mere wave of the foot—to peruse our gift basket. Inside was artisanal popcorn, chocolates, two cozy blankets and other trinkets (like aromatherapy oils and a selfie ring light) to take home. There was also a gift card to order off the drive-in’s menu.

We picked nachos and french fries to snack on, which were delivered to the car by a masked attendant. We turned the radio to the appropriate channel and listened as the film was introduced. Instead of clapping for the film- maker and all the volunteers who made the night possible, the entire parking lot erupted in honking car horns. Even though everyone was sitting enclosed in their own vehicles, it was a moment of collective solidarity.

The documentary itself was layered and complex, with surpris- ing twists and turns, and we sank into the heated seats and stress- munched popcorn for the duration.

At the end, after feeling totally spoiled by our new car and the TIFF and Mazda staff, we drove home to get back to real life. En route, we realized we had gone over three hours without thinking about the pandemic—a major win. When we arrived home, we had gotten so used to our new car that the Mazda ambassador basically had to pry the keys from our hands.”