Written by Natasha Lawrence
For the past two weeks or so, while you may have spotted fashion’s elite running from show to show in New York, the cream of the film crop was filling the streets of Toronto, attending film premiers, gifting suites and parties. Lots and lots of parties.
September 7th marked the start of what has been known as “The Festival of Festivals” aka The Torontonto International Film Fest aka TIFF. For us, it’s our favourite time of year in Toronto. The streets are filled with fans, films stars and tourists. There’s a party every night. And, we can watch some of the most anticipated movies before they hit theatres. This year, we visited gifting suites, we went to the parties, we watched the films, and we kept a diary about it all.
Seeing a film in a TIFF screening session is unlike seeing a film anywhere else. The attendees all share a love of film and aren’t there to catch-up with their girlfriends or text their way through the opening credits. It doesn’t hurt that you’re often watching the film with the people integral to making the film happen – the director, the producer or the actors.
Papillion, Thursday Sept. 8th @ 2:30 PM, Elgin Theatre
Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek star in a new adaption of Henri Charrière’s memoir of the same name about his trials as a French prisoner in the 30s.
1:00 PM – I stare at the mess I’ve made of my room while I try to decide what to wear. Unless you’re part of the film-making team, you don’t really have to dress up for a screening. However, there is the slightest chance that I may run-into Charlie Hunnam outside the theatre and I want to look good. By 1:30 PM, I’m running late and decide on something simple: Black Frame skinny jeans, a white Reformation t-shirt, and mules. Just in time – my Uber is outside.
2:10 PM – Traffic in the city during the film festival is a nightmare. One of our main streets is closed down for the festival, and the streets surrounding it are clogged by red carpet arrivals. For screenings, unless you’re a P+I badge holder, you need to be in line at the theatre at least 30 minutes before. The doors open 20 minutes before showtime and people rush in. While your ticket confirms a seat, there are generally 3 goals people keep in mind for when they are choosing a seat: 1. Somewhere you can see the stage and the screen properly. 2. Somewhere near the “reserved” seats, as that’s where the film’s actors will sit. 3. Close to the front of the stage, as it’s a prime spot for selfies with the actors after their Q&A. I head straight for the balcony as I’m mainly here to see the film.
2:20 PM– Director Michael Noer comes onstage to give a short introduction to the film.
5:00 PM – I laughed. I cried. I may or may not have drooled during Charlie Hunnam’s shower scene. Michael Noer returns to the stage with actor Roland Møller and Charlie Hunnam arrives late. Female cheers erupt as he runs onto the stage. Even stars must endure Toronto traffic! They’re just like us! A short Q&A follows.
5:20 PM – I exit the theatre and get yelled at by security. Apparenty, I stopped to text too close to Jessica Chastain’s car. She’s just arrived for her red carpet and I’m blocking her exit. My bad.
The Florida Project, Sunday Sept. 10th @ 6:30 PM, Ryerson Theatre
A story about a community living on the margins of American society.
6:10 PM – My friend’s husband hold a P+I pass that allows us to bypass the line and walk straight into the theatre. Once again, we sit in the balcony section.
8:30 PM – The film left me feeling so sad, but 7 year old Brooklynn Price was absolutely adorable in it. She’s joined on stage by her co-star, whom you may have heard of – William DeFoe. I’m sure he said some interesting things during the Q&A, but Brooklynn stole the show.
8:50 PM – As we excited the theater, we managed to see Steve Carrell and Emma Stone’s red carpet arrival for their film Battle of The Sexes.
Hosted by PR companies, suites pop-up all over the city. It’s a way to get their represented brands into the hands of the industry elite. A visit to one never leaves you empty handed.
beautyBOUTIQUE by Shoppers Drug Mart in Partnership with eOne
I arrive at the Intercontinental Hotel as Priyanka Chopra is taking a picture with a card-board cut-out of herself in the lobby. #META. I take the elevator up to where the beautyBOUTIQUE has taken over the whole 18th floor. Each room hosts a different experience. In one, eyelash applications by DUO, in another, hair styling by PHYTO, in another, manicures by Quo by Orly. I have a full day ahead, so I opt for eyelashes and hair.
NKPR’S IT House X Producer’s Ball
After a quick stop at the office, a bite to eat and an outfit change, I arrive on the faux red-carpet set-up outside NKPR’s IT House. I’m greeted at the door and taken through the expansive two story ‘house’. The first stop was by-far my favourite: Swaroski where I got a peak at the Winter collection and got to try on some of our favourite pieces. Following that, I had my Aura read, ate some Barilla pasta and had a make-up touch up by Annabelle cosmetics. My teenage heart skipped a beat when I bumped into my old crush and former MuchMusic VJ George Stroumboulopoulos. Say his last name 5 times fast.
Tastemakers Presents: Suite On The Sixth!
This suite is on the smaller scale, but it does offer free tattoos by Ink and Water. My body is so far unmarked, but their fine-line micro tats are simple and pretty. After standing for a solid 10 minutes in front of them, I decide to not start my tattoo journey on a whim and instead head over to Perth Soap Co. to smell some of their amazing soaps.
The parties are possibly the most fun part of TIFF. When else can you say you literally rubbed elbows with Michael Fassbender and fell to your feet in front of Nina Dobrev (a mortifying true story).
Mongrel Media’s Borg/McEnroe Afterparty, Sept. 7th
9:00 PM – The invite says the party starts at 9PM, but it goes on until 4PM. I meet with my friend for dinner at Soho House Toronto. We order some sharing plates, but mostly indulge on prosecco. As we leave, Armie Hammer is walking in. He’s a giant. And yes, he’s just as beautiful IRL.
11:00 PM – Mongrel Media takes over The Campbell House in the heart of the city for the duration of TIFF. During the day, they host press junkets. At night, they host parties. These parties are pretty cool in comparison to others, because they do tend to feel more like a house party than a fancier do. Shia LaBeouf is here, but a security guard makes guests keep a safe distance. It makes him stand out more. People gawk at him and try to covertly take pictures. Shia pretty much just stands around smoking a cigarette. By the time it barely hits 1 AM, my eyes are closing and I’m ready to call it a night.
The Disaster Artist Pre-Premier Party, Sept. 11th
11:30 PM – A party on a Monday isn’t my usual MO, but it’s TIFF so I make an exception and head to UG3 for The Disaster Artist pre-premier party. I’m immediately happy I did, because they’re playing 80s and new wave music and serving burgers with truffle parm fries. #WayToMyHeart. It takes a lot of self control when I realize I’m in the same room as Chloë Sevigny. She’s so chic and dressed in a long black coat, with thick gold hoop earrings and high chunky and strap-y sandals. I stand as close as possible to her, hoping to absorb some of her chicness. Rachel McAdams was also in attendance. It should be noted that she is so pretty IRL. The Franco brothers also made an appearance as it’s their film, but they only did a quick drop by. After having my share of burgers, fries and wine, I call it a night.
The festival wrapped up yesterday. The streets re-opened, the excitement almost completely gone. Now, maybe I should start planning my outfits for TIFF 2018…