A Look Back at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

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.

Toronto: Top 10 Places to Stalk Celebs at TIFF 2009

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) boasts one of the most stellar celebrity lineups in years. Over the course of the next ten days, we hope to see George Clooney and Matt Damon racing their Bentleys down Yonge Street, Megan Fox and Natalie Portman drunk skinny-dipping in Lake Ontario, and Michael Douglas and Michael Caine playing Backgammon in High Park. But most likely we’ll be awkwardly stalking them from across the street with the other plebeians. Here are your best bets at joining the fun.

Ultra Supper Club (Entertainment District) – Last year Lindsay Lohan hosted a party at this uber-luxe supper club, while Paris Hilton puked in the bathroom; this summer, Perez Hilton got some much-needed Boom Boom Pow from Will.I.Am and his cronies on the endless patio. So what to expect at this year’s fest? Well Hugh Hefner’s in town, and Toronto is full of women who will do anything to be famous. We smell a party! ● Amber (Yorkville) – One of the few actual party joints in Yorkville proper. Its sleek design and overt South Beach appeal will make it the destination of choice for libation-seeking glitterati. For your sake, we hope you know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. That, or you’re Matt Damon. ● One Restaurant at The Hazelton Hotel (Yorkville) – When Susur Lee packed his bags and headed for the Big Apple, Marc McEwan became the only genuine celebrity chef left in town. This is his new spot. And if there’s one thing celebs love more than hookers and heroin, its hot restaurants. Expect major star power. ● The Drake Hotel (West Queen West) – This Queen West landmark is a year-long battleground for local artists, musicians, and anyone else with a sleeve tattoo. But when TIFF rolls into town it becomes the go-to destination for stars looking to escape the unrelenting glare of Yorkville. Customized rooms, free-spirited menu, and multi-level partying buoyed by a fest-long 4am last call are perfect for the alt-celeb. Oprah, we’re talking to you. ● Sweaty Betty’s (Ossington) – This premier Toronto dive bar is too far off the beaten path for most stars, but for those who know, it’s the only place you’ll see Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, and Werner Herzog making out in a corner. Oh, and the name is super fun to say! ● Sassafraz (Yorkville) – If Toronto’s Yorkville district is like Beverly Hills during TIFF, then this sunny bistro is The Ivy. Megan Fox reportedly rented a condo nearby, so expect to see her there for lunch, while Brian Austin Green lurks with the paparazzi outside. ● Bistro 990 (Yonge and Bloor) – This is the granddaddy of celeb hangouts during the fest, and has been for years. Even with the influx of contemporary restaurants popping up all over the city, and looking to make their mark on TIFF, Bistro 990 will always be the gold standard for star-gazing. So while Megan Fox and Natalie Portman kick it everywhere else, you should come here and eat Magret de canard with Norman Jewison and his dad. ● Jezebel (Queen West) – If Baz Lurhman’s living room got drunk and had sex with Rob Zombie’s living room, they’d give birth to this new burlesque club located in the up and-coming hipster-centric Ossington hood. Rumor has it Charlotte Gainesbourg and Willem Defoe will be having a self-mutilation party here some time during the fest. No cover! ● Lobby (Bloor and Yonge) – You know your grandmother that gets ignored all year, until your birthday comes around? Suddenly you start visiting her, because maybe she’ll write you a check, right? Well during TIFF, Lobby is your old, senile grandmother, and she misses you terribly. ● The Windsor Arms Hotel (Yorkville) – Most celeb-hunters will be parked outside this grand, but discreet hotel — which is viewed by many as the unofficial headquarters of the festival — for 10 days straight. Mom, please come home. I’m hungry, and George Clooney wants nothing to do with you.