Whatever the festival, be it music, food or film, I am always reluctant to venture beyond what is familiar. For instance, the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival is set to kick off this Thursday and I plan on seeing Jason Reitmans film Up in the Air. Thats not to say I shouldnt see it, because Ill probably like it.

Reitman will guide me through two hours of love, quirky humour and Jason Bateman (hurray!), and that night I will sleep soundly knowing that true love really can happen for George Clooney in a movie I saw one time. As safe and wonderful as that little narrative sounds, that just isnt what a festival like TIFF is for.

Such an amassing of art and talent should be explored, not just skimmed until we recognize something we can sit through and not completely regret spending $20 on the ticket. Some of my favourite bands are ones I saw by accident at a festival. I tried Ethiopian food for the first time two years ago at a festival on the boardwalk and never looked back. This is your chance to expose yourself to something, to try something new, to take a risk. Having said that, I went to some press screenings this week, so here are some lesser-known films to take a risk on as well as some headliners.