Some people get excited for Christmas, some for their birthday. Now I’m not saying I don’t, I most certainly do! But there is another time of the year that I wait for with palpable anticipation – the Toronto International Film Festival.
A world-renowned film festival that spans 10 days at the beginning of September and takes over the city of Toronto. Hundreds of films are screened with just as many celebrities and film directors coming to town to promote the movies.
I wouldn’t call myself a movie buff but I do love going to the movies and immersing myself into the worlds created in films. I most likely could be called a celebrity buff though, always following the ins and outs of their lives. So really TIFF is a perfect time to dabble in both of these loves.
In years past I have waited countless hours outside of premieres to catch a glimpse of a star or two. This year I just didn’t feel that desire to sit on an awkward stool, eat so-so meals and honestly, waste time. Instead, I decided to pick a few celebrities I really wanted to see/meet and made it happen.
Throughout the rest of this blog post I will go over everything that I did during TIFF including movie reviews, celebrity encounters and detail an amazing prize I won. I apologize for the lengthy post in advance!
This year I purchased a Back Half pack which gave me 6 tickets for $74 but I could only see movies after Tuesday. Here’s a quick rundown of what I saw and what I thought:
Wild – A 1,000 mile journey for a woman to find herself again starring Reese Witherspoon. Reese is wonderful in this movie based on a true story and book. Rating: 3/4
Tales of the Grim Sleeper – A documentary about the Grim Sleeper, a serial killer who preyed on prostitutes and crack addicts in south central LA for 25 years before his capture while also discussing the social and legal injustices faced by African-American women in the LA area. If you like this type of topic definitely watch it. It just got picked up by HBO Documentary so keep an eye out for it. Rating: 3/4
Cut Bank – A Fargo-esque comedy-drama-thriller of a murder gone horribly wrong. Some may dislike this movie because they will see it as a rip off of Fargo. I was entertained and you can’t go wrong with Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern and John Malkovich. Rating: 2.5/4
October Gale – A Canadian film of a woman grieving the loss of her husband of 32 years by opening up their cottage up north but takes in a man with a gunshot wound who’s killer is en route to finish the job. Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman are amazing in this movie. Rating 3.5/4
99 Homes – A film centered around the horrible housing market in Florida a few years back with a cold hearted real estate agent helping out and changing a man who he just evicted from their home. Michael Shannon is flawless in this movie and if he doesn’t get some nominations out of it I will be mad. A great performance by Andrew Garfield, he should really stop doing Spiderman movies… Rating: 4/4
The Years of Fierro – A documentary that focuses on Fierro, a Mexican man who has been on death row in Texas for over 30 years. A beautiful film that details his life and the events that got him put in jail, all while underlining the injustice for foreign prisoners in the US. Rating: 2.5/4
Like I said previously, I focused in on a few celebrities (3 to be exact) and made it my mission to meet them. I have to say that I must be a magnet for celebrities this year. Of all the celebrities I wanted to meet, they all got out of their vehicle and came directly to me with very minimal attention seeking behaviour (maybe a single yelling out of their name). I met Dominic West (McNulty on The Wire) and got him to sign my first season of The Wire and he took a picture with me. Next was the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon who signed my copy of Walk the Line. And finally, John Travolta who signed my copy of Pulp Fiction. I found that waiting outside the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the press conferences were the best opportunity to get close to the stars and will definitely be doing that again next year.
This year I was fortunate enough to go to two TIFF parties – both with the lovely Sarah (check out her blog here). First was an intimate party at Michael’s on Simcoe for the opening of TIFF. Second was the Eligible Magazine party that included special appearances by some of the bachelors from Bachelor in Paradise (a guilty pleasure of mine). I had a great time both nights but it was pretty awesome to meet some of my favourite bachelors.
NKPR IT Lounge Experience
I had eluded to the fact that I won a contest during the TIFF festival and it was one run by The Kit (a fantastic online magazine that covers fashion, beauty and lifestyle topics) and NKPR (a well-known PR agency located in Toronto). I entered online for the contest mainly because I’m a big fan of NKPR and what they do during the TIFF season and to my surprise I won!
I won the opportunity to go to the exclusive NKPR IT Lounge that hosts numerous celebrities during the festival. I also got to go around just like a celebrity and learn about the different brands featuring their products and take home an amazing swag bag. This swag bag included David’s Tea, Saje Natural Wellness Pocket Pharmacy, Nakd bars, Christian Rex bracelet, Rudsak wallet, Tweezerman personalized tweezers, Goody hair accessories, Yo Socks socks and a Producer’s Ball Survival Kit.
The people at NKPR were amazing hosts and made me and my friend feel like celebrities! We also got to have drinks and food while in the lounge. Now celebrities do come to this lounge for another reason than the swag bag – to be photographed by Caitlin Cronenberg. A lot of the photos are up on the NKPR website so definitely check them out! In terms of seeing celebrities in the lounge while I was there, I got to see Justin Long and Anthony Mackie.
Overall, you can see that I had a very busy and exciting TIFF experience. Easily the best one yet! I’ve already started counting down until the next TIFF and it just finished yesterday!
Well I hope you made it through this post alright. If you did – congrats!
til next time…