TIFF After Dark by Paul Livingston
Gather ’round my beloved fellow Torontonians: it’s happened. It’s time. It’s here. TIFF has regenerated itself in its most massive, marvelous form yet. Cue the carpets. Cue the A-listers. Cue the parties. Go.
After the gifting lounge pop-up shops (like the high-wattage Tastemakers and the media-saving Essentials Lounge) started to un-pop themselves, and as the cinemas began to go dark, the first party to kick off Festival Season was eTalk’s Canadian Filmmakers’ Party. On the roof of the Spoke Club, on September 3rd, the local celebrities came out in full salute: Jason Priestly, The F Word’s Daniel Radcliffe, co-star Meghan Heffern, plus fun faces like Katie Boland, Gabrielle Miller, and Tara Spencer-Nairn.
Vampire Diaries guest-starring hunk David Alpay, sporting a perfect little bow tie, played co-host for the evening with a sparklier-than-usual Tanya Kim. Oh and speaking of hot Asian chicks – Lainey Lui, with her Social crew in tow as well, was discussing her upcoming birthday and sun-filled getaway after a whirlwind year that saw her become a legit Canadian household name with a killer talk show. With all this talk of vacations, mommy stuff, and other related blah blah blah, it was a welcome sight to see MUCH VJ Liz Trinnear staging a legit selfie photoshoot with friends, taking full advantage of the Spoke Club’s gorgeous view (and, if we remember correctly, Jian Ghomeshi happily watched all this from a distance).
But really, selfie-snapping celebs aside, it’s really the places – and the people – of this beautiful city that will get you going and into the mood this TIFF season. Last night, The Drake hosted two parallel “Welcome to TIFF” parties that put the emphasis, mercifully, on all the poor bastards who have to deal with how awful the city can become during the next week. In fact, they sold it as “No red carpets, no VIP areas, just a good, old fashioned rock & roll party for everyone.” Count me in. Rock Steady was the name of the game and it was just as good a roll as it was a rock. At Drake HQ on Queen West, the big attraction was free tattoos from Speakeasy – the city’s dopest outpost for ink – being given away to a lucky 20 attendees, all chosen at random. If permanent pain isn’t exactly your thing, free themed nail art from Pinky’s Nails was also up for grabs. The building-wide party’s biggest star? The music, obviously.
At around 11:30 p.m., I spotted the coolest kids suddenly take over the lounge and it all felt too familiar. Of course. Drake collaborator and GTA’s own The Weeknd came through with a posse to catch a set from New York’s X Ambassadors, which is all anyone in the alt-rock world, and the interwebs, seem to be talking about. Definitely worth your Google.
More words from TIFF’s first two days on the street: Al Pacino got down and dirty with Strombo for a career retrospective at Wednesday’s pricey $1,500-a-ticket TIFF Gala that attracted a zillion Instagrams; Canadian beauty and Cronenberg muse Sarah Gadon finally looks like she’s ready for Hollywood status; Juliette Binoche knows how to multiask with a champagne flute.
Stay tuned for another segment of TIFF After Dark by Paul Livingston….