With 4am last calls, open bars and no shortage of success to celebrate, it’s just as much about the parties as it is the films at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Here’s what’s gone down while I’ve been sipping, spying and interviewing my way through the celeb-filled TIFF 2016 party scene…
On Wednesday evening, the hot (and very expensive) ticket was the AMBI Gala at the Ritz Carlton.
Famous faces like Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson and homegrown funny guy Martin Short graced the red carpet.
Sadly, Short’s time on the carpet was, well, short. He had enough of the interviews halfway down but seemed to be in fine form, smiling the whole time and not looking as annoyed as he probably was. Either way, he was sort of the reason we came, so that wasn’t ideal. Better luck next time, I guess.
That’s the thing with red carpets: they’re always a gamble with no guarantees that a celeb will stop to chat (and sometimes it’s a damn survival of the fittest when it comes to fellow members of the media).
The ageless Pamela Anderson looked flawlessly fresh-faced. She addressed questions about her recent passionate claim that porn was for losers.
“It’s sad,” said the former Baywatch babe. “There is a real darkness to it. Some heterosexual men have never touched a woman because it doesn’t do it for them because they have porn. I just think it’s a dangerous and sad addiction.”
I also chatted with Canadian supermodel Coco Rocca, who said her right arm was significantly stronger than her left from carrying her baby, and that her favourite place to be in Toronto is with her family in her dad’s basement. She says her music of choice these days includes a playlist full of Missy Elliot, Pharrell and DJ Snake.
A few hours later, hundreds of local actors braved the rain that pretty much flooded The Citizen’s back patio for the annual Young Filmmakers Party, which is basically a reunion for anyone in the Canadian film and TV worlds.
Thursday night was the opening night to Mongrel House, which once again stole my jaded event-hopping heart (so much so that I have been back every night since). It feels like a really nice house party, complete with live band karaoke, vintage video games, Ping-Pong, live music and amazing food stations courtesy of the St. Lawrence Market (which is made all the more well-received after a few of the free-flowing cocktails).
On Sunday night, Sandra Oh stopped by Mongrel House, where she was spotted watching some of the karaoke on the second floor.
Friday night, I hit my favourite new view-filled rooftop, Lavelle, for the Nespresso pre-party for the film Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Refreshingly, when the super-cute-in-person Gordon-Levitt arrived, he wasn’t immediately whisked into a VIP area, as you often see. Instead, he ran into people immediately upon entry and was overheard chatting about his wife and baby. A handful of people were ballsy enough to approach him and ask for a photo once he camped out in the covered back area.
At first, he seemed rightfully slightly annoyed with the requests. “I’m sending a text message,” he told one guest. “I’m having a conversation,” he told another. I’m pretty sure he was even approached while he was eating (to which I assume he informed the photo-seeker he was doing).
A few lucky guests who excel in the good timing department did get photos with the dimpled star (and likely posted them on Instagram immediately after).
After a stop at Mongrel House, I hit up Soho House for the Grey Goose after-party for the film Colossal, staring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Dan Stevens.
I wasn’t particularly a fan of Anne Hathaway, but seeing her in real life has converted me. She was effortlessly glowing in a topknot and leather overalls and seemed super chill. At one point, she even stood barefoot on the couch, and she stayed until the very end (Nicole Kidman should take a page from her book, but I will get to that later).
Also gracing the grounds were Jason Sudeikis and his wife Olivia Wilde, who I didn’t even notice until a good while in because she is super pregnant and remained on the couch most of the time while Sudeikis chatted with his friends and seemed to be in fine form. He was super affectionate with Wilde, which was nice to see. He walked her out and stayed at the party late.
On Saturday, I found myself back at Soho House for the Grey Goose after party for Lion, starring Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel and Rooney Mara.
This was definitely the busiest cast party I held at Soho House that I have seen. This resulted in capacity issues that saw guests waiting outside in the rain to get in.
Nicole Kidman looked refreshingly amazing in person but left the party before the halfway point, making her way through the Soho House back entrance.
Other famous faces at the high-energy party included Harvey Weinstein, Dev Patel, Shailene Woodley and Rooney Mara.
On Sunday, I was at Casa Loma for the Artist’s For Peace and Justice red carpet. Honouree Sean Penn posed for a few snaps but we were told he wasn’t doing interviews upon arrival. I did chat with co-chair, Canadian director Paul Haggis, who praised Penn and his political activism.
“He’s been there since the beginning. Every time I saw something going on in the world and thought ‘I just don’t know about that,’ Sean Penn was there,” said Haggis. “He didn’t care how it impacted his career – he just didn’t give a sh*t and wanted to speak up and help and damn the consequences. Boy, do I admire that.”
Guests included Nelly Furtado, The Tenors, George Stroumboulopoulos and Jim Belushi.
Later on, I was back at Soho House for the Grey Goose after-party for Jackie, staring Natalie Portman and Peter Skarsgaard. A Prada gown-clad Portman – who just announced her pregnancy – happily chatted with friends and made herself comfortable on the couch, where she munched on Soho House offerings. Being pregnant didn’t make the gorgeous Portman a party pooper – she stayed late into the evening and even joined her girlfriends for a spontaneous dance party.
Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, and Evan Rachel Wood also stopped by the party.
Next stop was Figo for the Nespresso after-party for It’s Only the End of the World . The stunning new space was filled with faces like director Xavier Dolan (who was super sweet to chat and snap a selfie with) and actors Nathalie Baye and Gaspard Ulliel.
Next, I made it over to EFS for Nick Cannon’s King of the Dancehall after-party. Sadly my looming morning deadline got the best of me before Cannon arrived. When he did, he happily posed with partygoers for photos. By that point, I was (finally) fast asleep.
Last night, I hit the Shangri-La, where The Birks Women in Film event celebrated some of Canada’s finest female filmmakers. Other influential Canadian talent were also found later on across town at The Drake Hotel for the Canadian Film Fest Party.
The next stop was Soho House for the after-party for ‘Brimstone,’ starring the now 22-year-old Dakota Fanning.
Seeing her all grown up (and ridiculously beautiful) in a Dolce and Gabbana gown made me feel pretty old – she’s definitely no longer the child star we feel in love with in I am Sam.
The Grey Goose cocktails went down easy (too easy) and that was my last stop (even during TIFF, 2am is too much for a Monday). It continues this evening…