Toronto International Film Festival Blog

Toronto International Film Festival Blog


Day 6: Tuesday September 11, 2007

After hopping around town to a barrage of photo shoots, interviews, screenings and even a film fest fashion show (Valentino recreated the label’s F/W ’07 show last night in the Much Music parking lot), I thought nothing could get more hectic. Today, TIFF proved me wrong. My morning was jam packed with a screening of Cassandra’s Dream—a new drama by Woody Allen. I had the pleasure of seeing it just before interviewing two of its stars, Ewan MacGregor (Trainspotting and Velvet Goldmine are two of my favourite flicks from him) and a beautiful Hollywood newcomer named Hayley Atwell. Ewan was a charmer, answering each of my questions articulately and with so much grace (a combo that is rare in movieland these days). Hopefully he didn’t notice me eyeing his punky hair-do (which was as complex as Woody’s film). Atwell, who plays his girlfriend in the film, was just as lovely—telling me she couldn’t believe it was only her third movie. Talk about a lucky lady. Not only does she star with Ewan, but bad boy Colin Farrell also leads in it. Hayley’s next film, The Dutchess, has her starring with Ralph Fiennes and FLARE’s current cover girl, Keira Knightley.

Later that night, I got into my best black and white outfit to meet Ewan and Hayley all over again. This time it was a lot less formal and it was with Woody Allen, joined by rough-and-tumbler Colin Farrell. The reason? Well, FLARE’s Editor-in-Chief Lisa Tant (my glam date for the week) and I were invited to an exclusive dinner for the cast of Cassandra’s Dream, held at the Chanel Boutique on Bloor Street, spearheaded by Chanel’s gracious hosts Roger Forcier and Anny Kazanjian. The Chanel team (with the help of some A-list party planners) transformed its boutique into what looked like an upscale Parisian bistro (the white rose centerpieces looked as if Coco picked them herself). After an exquisite three course meal, my date and I waved goodbye to Woody and the kids and headed over to the fest’s best party ever—held at the Windsor Arms Hotel and hosted by In Style Magazine and the Hollywood Foreign Press. ET Canada stopped us on the red carpet for a quick “who was the best dressed of the fest in your opinion?” interview (answer is Keira Knightley, of course) and as soon as we walked it, we were reminded that In Style and the HFP know how to get the major names to their shindigs like no one else. International stars such as Jude Law were there, American beauties like Jessica Alba were there, and big top moguls such as Harvey Weinstein were there—shaking hands and patting backs with local Canuck up-and-comers such as Shawn Ashmore and Kevin Zegers. It was, as they say, “a scene.” The best moment of the night goes to George Pimentel and my date, Lisa, who managed to canoodle up to the fairest/careless heiress of all, Paris Hilton. P-Hilt was decked out in an Audrey Hepburn-esque LBD and seemed like she was eating up the flashbulb lights like it was her last supper. Some sneered, some cheered, but one thing is for certain…everyone looked. That’s it for tonight.

Day 3: Saturday, September 8, 2007

The day started bright and early-or dark and shadowy rather-with a trip to the Varsity Theatre for the press screening of a stylish documentary called Callas Assoluta at 9am (!!!). For those who don’t know a thing about Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas, the film is the perfect 101. It basically explained why she was called the greatest opera artist of her time, why she died tragically at the age of 52 after getting her boyfriend Aristotle Onassis trumped by Jackie Kennedy, and why she was such a “difficult” force to be reckoned with on and off stage.

Madonna has nothing on Maria, who had more trauma, drama, tragedy and ferocity than any other singer in the history of pop culture. Many say she is the template for what we all consider Diva and after watching this film, I have to agree. Besides the fact that, even when she died, her ashes blew right into the faces of her mourners-refusing to be dumped into the ocean as planned. The film’s focus on her lush costumes alone and exquisitely particular taste in fashion are enough to inspire dozens of Galliano collections.

After that was over, I rushed off to the InterContinental Hotel to interview the stunning Italian actress Monica Bellucci (look for the full interview in our December issue), who was giving me the lowdown on how old-school Italian film icons are still one of her main influences (“it’s in my blood! [Actors] Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani are in everything I do!”). After speaking a good 30 minutes with Bellucci, I rushed back to my place, did a costume change of my own and headed to the opulent Elgin Theatre for the premiere of No Country For Old Men. Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Woody Harrelson (wearing a bizarre purple shirt that looked like a muumuu—Perez Hilton would die for it) were among the stars who attended, as well as the Coen brothers themselves-famous for making the hilarious movies, Fargo and The Big Lebowski-who reminded me of the Google guys so badly. Anyway, cheering for his buddy Bardem was none other than a leather-jacket clad Spanish sensation Gael García Bernal, who flirted his way through the aisles to get a prime seat with the cast.

Day 2: Friday, September 7, 2007

Last night was all about intense moving and shaking. The moving—from party to party—was faster and more furious than the night before. The shaking was about 80% of the TIFF attendees, twisting their necks about to see what notable names were around. My first stop, after a day of viewing three films, was the Power Plant Art space at Queen’s Quay. The reason was an exquisite show sponsored by one of Canada’s biggest artist supporters, Robert Mitchell, and the families of Steven and Michael Latner. The exhibit—titled Dusks, Lamplights—collected internationally renowned artist Paul P’s most recent works. For those of you who don’t know, the Hamilton-born, now Paris-based artist collaborated with former Dior designer Hedi Slimane last year on the Dior Spring ad campaign and the results were incredible to say the least. After viewing this show at the Power Plant—which housed P’s oil paintings, pastels, watercolours, drawings and prints—it’s easy to understand why the fashion crowd, as well as the art world, has become so enamored with P’s portraits.

Next stop was a private dinner at The Fifth by the head honchos of Alliance Atlantis and Flare magazine for the film Rendition. The stars of the flick, Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, were both in attendance, as well as the dashing and extremely friendly Omar Metwally. Reese looked gorgeous as usual and had to dash into the resto with a mad set of bodyguards to help her from screaming fans snapping cameras. After getting our fair share of celeb-siting (yes, Reese is gorgeous and looked incredible in her Nina Ricci cocktail dress), we shifted off to a big red carpet party at Holt Renfrew.

Closing off the heart of Bloor Street, HR’s extravagant shin-dig was—as Beyonce would sing—“rockin’ chinchilla coats.” Every sort of size, shape and styled fashionista from Toronto and beyond held their breath for Sienna Miller to walk through the transformed department store (circus theme, replete with the Misshapes Djing, contortionists, jugglers, and a strange woman holding a frame that scared the freak out of the Badgley Mishka crowd). Anyway, Sienna did not disappoint. She wore a ring-leader-esque black and white blouse/pant outfit with a cabaret top hat that made the ladies who lunch very amused. With her sister Savannah at her side, Sienna roared like a lion and stung like a bee with her overall grace and coolness (by the way, for you Sienna fans, the siblings have a line clothing line at Holts called Twenty8Twelve) . After two glasses of champagne, and way too many chats about the state of Canadian cinema and Britney’s comeback single, I took my D&G’d self home for some much anticipated sleep.

Day 1: Thursday, September 6, 2007

Although today was the first official day of the fest, Flare’s Culture/Features team and I have been busy preparing for it for weeks. For example, last week was spent viewing a couple of movies that were getting special screenings for Canadian press only. Plus, with Keira Knightley on our current cover (who we photographed and interviewed in London months ago and happens to be starring in two films at TIFF-Silk and Atonement), fest fever started ages ago at FLARE.

For everyone else, however, today was the official kick-off, but we kept ourselves busy nonetheless. My morning was spent making sense of all the notes I took during the films I had already seen, namely a gorgeous French film called The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (directed by artist Julian Schnabel), a political thriller titled Rendition (starring Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep), Ang Lee’s follow up to Brokeback Mountain-Lust, Caution, and a crime drama starring Terence Howard and Jodie Foster named The Brave One (which I saw today).

Passing the throngs of journalists from around the globe made my heart sink as I entered through the Varsity cinema doors (one of the many HQs of TIFF). Even though this is my 10th time attending this huge cirque-du-soleil of film and fracas, I can’t tell you how much it has grown and how incredibly high the energy is now.



When you get all these film-lovers in concentrated areas such as theaters, pre-movie conversation is inevitably going to get heated and juicy, so part of the fun is listening to the bickering critics size up the flicks they’ve seen and guess which ones will be bombs or beauts. Also: watching all the journalists from around the world get confused on where to go and how to get there (on time, no doubt) always makes me nostalgic for the bad old days when I didn’t know my film noir from my rom-coms (or that I had to leave 30 minutes early to get a press seat for much-anticipated productions).

However, beyond the films and the people watching, today’s main event was doing an exclusive shoot for FLARE’s November issue with three talented actresses from TIFF’s opening night Gala flick called Fugitive Pieces — which had its worldwide premiere tonight. Quick note: do what you can to see this film when it lands in theaters in October, as it is deeply moving and the performances are spot-on. If it doesn’t get an Oscar nod, I’ll seriously call the Academy myself (and probably leave a message on the complaint line).

Anyway, starring in the film is Toronto’s own 19-year-old Nina Dobrev (who is gracing the cover of the Toronto Sun today!), acclaimed Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer (of Munich fame) and Britain’s elegant Rosamund Pike (who starred alonside Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice). Pike told us she just got back from the Venice Film Fest to support her boyfriend, director Joe Wright (the director of P&P) who premiered his film Atonement in Venice. Talk about a power couple.


Diving Bell and The Butterfly

Dressed in their best designer garb and coiffed to the nines, the three ladies (total professionals-no Lindsay Lohan moments at all) made their way to our private suite at the Sutton Place where George Pimental, FLARE’s star photographer (who also was fresh off the Venice Film Fest circuit) snapped them in the chicest of ways. If you want to see the exotic fruits of our labour (especially FLARE Art Director Tanya Watt’s handy off-the-cuff styling for Ayelet), make sure you pick up FLARE’s November issue on newsstands October 15. This issue will feature a fabulous, exclusive story written by our Associate Entertainment Editor Alexandra Breen, on these three dynamic women and their contribution to this spectacular film. Did I mention you should see this film? You can thank me later.