Another year of The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and gone with it are the extended 4 am last calls (Toronto’s last call normally arrives at cruel 2 a.m.), celebrities, and the unique energy that is bestowed upon the city which Steve Martin once referred to on 30 Rock as being “just like New York but without all the stuff.”
The pre-festival buzz this year was how the new TIFF headquarters, the Bell Lightbox, located farther south in the entertainment district, was going to steal the thunder from the usually chicer hub further uptown known as Yorkville. As the festival kicked off, everyone quickly learned of more parties happening downtown, closer to the King West strip, but it didn’t stop fans from stalking out the usual celeb-stacked hotels like the Four Seasons up in Yorkville.
Just north of the main Yorkville strip, a condo showroom for PEARS on the Avenue was taken over for five days to serve as TORO After Dark, a late-night lounge for VIP and celebrities. The space hosted a number of events including a preview exhibition of RED, The New York Times Canadian photo archive as curated by Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of director David). “I was trying to pick images that are what Canadians are all about, interesting stories and cool artistic visions. That’s sort of our thing and people don’t necessarily think of that immediately when they think of Canada. I wanted to make sure the pictures were really interesting and that they had a story behind them and our country is more than they think we are,” Cronenberg explained.
The same space hosted the Artists for Peace and Justice Fundraiser hosted by Paul Haggis, Maria Bello, James Franco and AnnaLynne McCord, to assist children through education in Haiti. One of the moving moments of the evening was when McCord made her appeal to potential donors in the room by recalling her trip to Haiti, and choked up as she described when she “saw a girl licking a puddle for water.”
On a night which had no particular scheduled programming at TORO After Dark, Paul Haggis and Josh Brolin stopped by for a low-key drink, and were joined by Javier Bardem shortly after, in a space that had less than 40 guests.
At the swanky Hazelton hotel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) held it’s bash for their late show host, George Stroumboulopoulos, where Chromeo and Rory Them Finest DJ-ed throughout the night.
Down on the King West strip, Brassaii was transformed to the YouTube Lounge and hosted private parties for Zach Galifianakis’ It’s Kind of a Funny Story which also featured an amazing ice cream sundae bar, and Emma Roberts was spotted on some steps wearing a furry white jacket.
As fun as the parties are, many stars make the obligatory appearance for only a few minutes. More pre and post film dinners with casts, crews and VIPs in intimate settings have emerged. Giorgio Armani Cosmetics hosted an exclusive 10th anniversary dinner with Sam Worthington and Eva Mendes during the film festival at the Nikki Beach pop-up at C Lounge, where Reza Zaimeche, International Face Designer for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, unveiled their latest ad campaign featuring Megan Fox. In between courses, Mendes spotted jewelry designer Shay Lowe wearing one of her signature creations, and was seen exiting the dinner carrying the statement necklace, fresh off Lowe’s neck.
Mendes isn’t the only one who made off with a sparkly gift. TIFF has not quite reached the same level of swag as Sundance, but celebrities and talent are still inundated with freebies.
The CBC hosted a Made In Canada Lounge where celebrities including Will Farrell, Ryan Phillippe and Zach Galifianakis stopped by to check out items from Canadian brands including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots, Canada Goose and Red Canoe, before taping a segment for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Snacks scattered throughout the lounge were mainly items that can’t be found outside of Canada, such as Lay’s Ketchup Chips, Caesars (like a Bloody Mary but with Clamato) and red velvet whoopie pies by Bobbette & Belle.
Spotted at the IT Lounge was Paul Haggis picking up a Kobo eReader, Martin Sheen picking up a few Baker Street Pecan Pie Cheesecakes, and Catherine Deneuve checking out Goody hair accessories.
Over at the Fresh Goods Tastemakers Lounge, Charlotte Rampling picked up a leather coin purse from Jessica Jensen, while Abigail Breslin picked up a pair of foldable flats from Damn Heels. Breslin, Colin Firth, Ed Norton, Freida Pinto and Jay Baruchel all autographed Mattel board games to be auctioned off until October 1st in support of the SickKids Foundation.