Red carpets, paparazzi and shameless smartphone-snapping fans have dotted Toronto’s downtown core outside the famous face-filled cast parties of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Spots like STK, Patria, The Citizen and Montecito were home to such power-packed affairs. This year, longtime TIFF sponsor, RBC, offered more than their familiar logo with the pop-up RBC House. Held in the historic Storys building, the RBC House was home to Ciroc cocktail-filled cast parties and a private concert by Juno-winning Canadian band the Arkells. Grey Goose returned to host equally as exclusive cast parties at Soho House and The Citizen. Down the street, champagne flowed freely at Moët & Chandon‘s Maison Moët where guests danced into the night. The esteemed brand also had celebrities like Emma Roberts, Jim Carrey, Priyanka Chopra, Nicolas Cage, et al autograph a 9L Salmanazar bottle of Moët & Chandon at the Intercontinental Hotel. The bottle was later auctioned at a special event hosted by the Business and Professional Women Clubs of Canada, benefitting TIFF’s Share Her Journey Campaign.
Naturally, you have better luck of getting into the Academy Awards as you do these parties (and if you are on the list, forget about bringing a plus one). These intimate affairs include the cast, filmmakers, score composers, agents, financiers, select sponsors and a handful of media who know nobody but one another.
At Friday’s cast party for Stronger, a suited, bearded and composed Jake Gyllenhaal was courteous to those who introduced themselves, although he admitted he was tired, having only had two hours of sleep (welcome to TIFF, Jake). He was heard praising his co-star, Canada’s own Emmy-winning Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black). Meanwhile, via an entrance through their back smoking area, Jessica Chastain and Aaron Sorkin toasted their film Molly’s Game over at The Citizen (which later opened up to the hot-ticket eOne party).
One of the best TIFF-time parties wasn’t even officially associated with TIFF, but it did draw notable faces in town for the occasion. On Saturday night in the Vince Ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel, Canada Goose celebrated its 60th anniversary with an Instagram-worthy bash that attracted people like the smiley former Blue Jays hero Joe Carter, cocktail-sipping supermodel Kate Upton, Canada Goose collaborator Jose Bautista and a very flirty (with more than one lovely lady) Cuba Gooding Junior. It included both a performance by A Tribe Called Red and a surprise performance by Kendrick Lamar (those who left early for TIFF parties had major FOMO).
As guests danced to Lamar over at the Four Seasons, those involved in the twisted thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer – including Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman – mowed down family-style at Soho House’s second floor pantry. Such a setup made it difficult to mix and mingle (i.e. spy), but what I can report is that a Valentino-clad Kidman looked every bit of her uber megastar status, with flawless (and refreshingly not as frozen as we’ve seen in the past) skin. Ferrell looked somehow younger than ever himself, but proved he still indulges by ordering a second round of Soho House’s Dirty Burgers.
Meanwhile at RBC House on Saturday night for the Mary Shelley party, Elle Fanning looked all grown-up (making the rest of us feel very old) as she worked the room like a seasoned pro. A crew of guests later hit Harvey Weinstein’s bash at Cactus Club, which featured surprisingly fewer famous faces than it has in the past.
On Sunday, the well-heeled guests hit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for the annual Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) gala, which raised $1.1 million dollars. Here, Ben Stiller posed for photos alongside APJ founder, famed Canadian director Paul Haggis on the red carpet. Cuba Gooding Junior told us that he was excited to hear Jackson Browne perform and that what he liked most about Toronto is how close he feels to nature when he is here (personally, I feel a lot more connected to nature in the Hollywood Hills than I do here, but whatever). Longtime APJ supporter George Stroumboulopolos (Strombo) told us that the most important thing his mom did as a kid was remind him that he isn’t any more special than anyone else and that he refuses to rush in life or live by a rigid schedule.
Sunday night was also the cast party for Woman Walks Ahead, where an impossible-to-not-stare-at Jessica Chastain stunned in red. Later on, the APJ festivities continued with an after party at Strombo’s house (“House of Strombo”). The party – which lasted until the early hours of the morning – featured impromptu performances and attracted guests like Paul Haggis, Cuba Gooding Junior and Canadian band The Sheepdogs.
On Monday evening, some big screen staples hit Soho House’s Pretzel Bar for a Grey Goose cocktail affair to celebrate the convoluted lesbian romance My Days of Mercy. Guests included stars Oscar nominee and Canadian powerhouse Ellen Page and her co-star Kate Mara (the two are close friends in real-life). Rocking a lighter, blonder hair colour, Mara stayed right to the end (unlike Page, who disappeared halfway through), happily chatting with guests. Mara paired her black skinny pants with black, silver-studded, open-heeled Alexander Wang pumps. “They’re in the store right now!” she said.
Later on Monday, Andrew Garfield and co-star Claire Foy (whose real-life chemistry is undeniable) celebrated their powerful and tear-jerking film Breathe at RBC House. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the festival, Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig were both MIA at the Grey Goose cast party for Downsizing a few blocks away at Soho House. Sadly, we heard through the grapevine that Damon’s dad was sick. A radiant looking Hong Chau was there to celebrate, and the film’s score composer Rolfe Kent (Sideways, Dexter and Legally Blonde), told us the actress would soon become a household name.
On Tuesday, the cast party for Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool filled RBC House with star power, with guests like Annette Bening, Warren Beatty, Elvis Costello, Jamie Bell and wife Kate Mara (who took the dressier route this time in a white lacy cocktail dress). Proving they are the ultimate #relationship goals, Bening and Beatty held hands and were happy to pose for pictures for the group of guests who gathered around them on their way out. Also noteworthy was an apparent bromance between Beatty and Costello, who moved from his VIP section to Beatty’s. They two were seen laughing and chatting beside one another on a couch, with Beatty perched on the arm. Meanwhile, Bening and Mara remained engaged in conversation.
Later on at Soho House for the Grey Goose cast party for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a ridiculously easy-on-the-eyes Luke Evans proved he didn’t need the star treatment as he was seen carrying three cocktails outside to his tablemates on the terrace.
A TIFF party highlight was Mongrel House, which hosted an assortment of parties throughout the festival that lasted until 4am. The house party-style event featured tented, open bars, a gelato bar, live band karaoke, live nightly music, food stations and Ping-Pong. At Wednesday night’s Italian Party, TIFF’s own director and CEO Piers Handling – who recently announced he would step down after 2018 – was seen strolling the sprawling grounds.
While the parties ran until Saturday, September 16, we decided to take a break from the TIFF madness and rest up for next year. Until then…