This is What Went Down at TIFF’s Hottest Parties

That’s a wrap on TIFF.

As the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) winds to a close, it will leave behind memories – some hazy – for Hollywood’s elite (and Toronto’s social set) of the talking point-filled parties that brought the city to life.

Having a film premiere at TIFF – one of the world’s most coveted film festivals – is a major cause for celebration, after all, and the parties are just as newsworthy as the movies are.

Here is the best of the TIFF 2018 party scene.

The Venues of Choice
While the film parties take place at venues all over the city, most of the ultra intimate cast dinners and parties – the details of which are kept top-secret until after the fact – went down at Soho House and at RBC House, the latter of which is a pop-up initiative that returned for the second year to transform the space at 11 Duncan Street into a hub for panels, live music, and parties. While you would pretty much have better luck of getting into the Oscars than into any of these parties, the lucky few camera-clutching onlookers could snap shots of the stars upon arrival or exit.

Photo credit: Joe Scarnici, Getty Images for RBC

The Best Food
While the typical passed apps and interactive food stations are definitely taken up a notch during TIFF, one of the most noteworthy talking points in the food department this festival was the Grey Goose cast dinner for Destroyer at Soho House. Held on the second floor pre-premiere, the celebrity cast – which includes names like Nicole Kidman (who was stunning in a cream-coloured Bottega Veneta power suit) and Canadian star Tatiana Maslany – were treated to a family-style feast created by Chef Ludo Lefebvre, who was flown in from L.A. for the occasion. Lefebvre – who is known as a trailblazer in L.A.’s pop-up restaurant scene – dished up a comforting fare of salmon with a sorrel sauce, market vegetable ratatouille, roasted chicken, and steak au poivre with frites.

Chef Ludo and Nicole Kidman at the “Destroyer” cast dinner. Photo credit: Stefanie Keenan, Getty Images for Grey Goose

The Most Gossiped-About
One of the hottest pieces of gossip this TIFF – as broken by Jen Kirsch for Hello! Canada – was the confirmation of one of the most buzzed-about rumours in Young Hollywood: Cara Delevigne and Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) are in fact dating. The two were affectionate with one another on Sunday night (September 9) at RBC House at the party in celebration of their film Her Smell, and were the last of the cast to leave. In other news, Johnny Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard – with whom he had a messy and allegedly violent relationship with – and her former step-daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, were spotted at the same TIFF party as both graced the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto for the annual hot-ticket InStyle party. Awkward.

Inside the “Her Smell” party. Photo credit: Sonia Recchia, Getty Images for RBC

The Best Cocktails
Naturally, solid cocktail options are just as much of a staple at the Grey Goose film parties as the famous faces are. Throughout the festival, party guests sipped things like “The Sequel,” an elegant twist on the espresso martini; the “Magic Hour,” a cocktail made with Grey Goose L’Orange, orange juice, vanilla syrup, and unsweetened coconut milk; and the “Le Fizz,” a longtime Grey Goose staple made with Grey Goose, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice and soda.

Photo cred: Stefanie Keenan, Getty Images for Grey Goose

The Best Party Perks
One of the best parties is always Mongrel House, which takes over the historic Campbell House Museum, transforming it into an indoor/outdoor house party, where the stuffiness from a typical TIFF affair is removed thanks to no shortage of party perks through out the property. These include the always-popular live band karaoke on the second floor, an assortment of food stations, live performances, a gelato station, ping-pong, and a VR lounge. Famous faces to grace the sprawling property this TIFF included Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edward Burtynsky, Billy Zane, and Maria Bello, to name a few.

The Most Star Power
When you have a star-packed cast, you’re likely to have one of the most star-packed parties at TIFF. One of the most Hollywood-infused parties this TIFF was the after-party for The Death and Life of John F. Donovan – a film directed by Canada’s own 29-year-old Xavier Dolan. Held at Soho House on Monday night, party guests included Dolan, Kit Harington, Thandie Newton, Emily Hampshire, Chris Zylka, and Susan Sarandon. Fellow cast mates Sarah Gadon and Natalie Portman were, sadly, absent. This was one of the hottest ticket after-parties, with other famous faces like Alexander Skarsgard and Paris Hilton stopping by later in the evening.

Kit Harington and Xavier Dolan. Phot credit: Stefanie Keenan, Getty Images for Grey Goose

The Best Music
You can count on a TIFF party to have some of the best DJs and live talent that the industry has to offer. This year was no exception. To kick off TIFF, Alexandra Richards (daughter of Keith) got Toronto’s finest dancing like they would at an Oscars after-party at the Maverick x Toronto Life “Best Dressed” party on Thursday, September 6. RBCxMusic – the music-focused element of RBC House – featured performances from artists like HAIM this TIFF. On Monday night, popular local band Dwayne Gretzky took over the third floor at RBC House at an event to honour Stan Smith, treating guests – which included Max Kerman, lead singer of the Arkells – to crowd pleasers like “Take on Me,” “Call Me Al,” and “That Thing.”

Photo credit: Joe Scarnici, Getty Images for RBC

The Best Fundraiser
The most buzzed-about – and famous face filled – charity event was the Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Gala held on Saturday night at the Windsor Arms Hotel. The tenth annual event – co-chaired by Toronto public relations powerhouse Natasha Koifman and Suzanne Boyd – brought out people like Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, George Stroumboulopoulos, and Drew and Jonathan Scott. To the delight and amusement of guests, dinner was served in part by Stiller and Sarandon. The gala raised $1.4 million dollars for Artists for Peace and Justice, an organization that supports communities in Haiti by providing access to education.

Yannick Bisson, Susan Sarandon, Deb Rennard, Alan Cumming, David Danielle, Marchelle Sellers, Shantelle Bisson, Ben Stiller, Natasha Koifman, Suzannerd. Photo: Ryan Emberley

The Best Fashion
The sixth annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the year’s Women in Film celebrates Canadian filmmakers and always attracts the city’s most fashionable for the well-heeled affair. The Canadian jewellery company – a favourite of Meghan Markle’s – took over the Atrium at Ricarda’s on Monday night, filling it with Toronto fashion figures like actress Laura Vandervoort, Amanda Brugel, and Grego Minot (The Real Housewives of Toronto) despite the persistent rain.

Photo cred: Sam Santos