Every now and then I get drafted back into my old life as an entertainment publicist (I still freelance from time to time), and this month, I found myself spending the past two weekends at the Toronto International Film Festival (http://tiff.net). Here’s a little recap of all the festival fun!
Visiting film festivals was always one of the best parts of my job in publicity and TIFF has long been among my favorites. One of the main reasons I like it is because the focus still feels very much on the films as opposed to the parties, gifting suites, etc. that sometimes overshadow the movies at other festivals. Let’s hope that doesn’t change! Some of the most buzzed about films this year included Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Ben Affleck’s Argo, and Walter Salles’ On The Road. For my part, I was excited to fit in a screening of Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, a quirky little gem of a black-and-white film starring and co-written by Greta Gerwig.
The last time I visited TIFF was in 2009, and both the festival and the city of Toronto have grown quite a bit since then. In particular, there’s been a flurry of hotel construction; a new Four Seasons is on the way, the Shangri-La Hotel soft-opened for this year’s festival, and the Trump International Hotel & Tower and the Ritz-Carlton only just arrived within the last two years. I was lucky enough to be at the Ritz (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Toronto/Default.htm?utm_campaign=TBPSUSEGPB149&src=ps&pId=rztbppc) both weekends. While there, I fit in trips to the steam room and the sauna, the fantastic pool, both of the on-site bars (not much for atmosphere but fantastic for people watching), and the pop-up Snoball Stand in the lobby.
As a publicist, you get rather used to spending a lot of time in hotels. Luckily for me I love them, so I’ve never much minded. That said, I was happy to have a fairly relaxed work schedule this time around and so got to do some exploring too. A couple friends and I had a delicious Italian dinner (literally the best lasagna I’ve ever had) at Sotto Sotto (http://www.sottosotto.ca/main2.asp), a hot spot for celeb sightings during the festival. I would love to show you photos from there but it’s a rather dark, cavernous place, which makes for quite a romantic setting, but not the best for capturing good photos (perhaps that’s why celebrities like it so much). Brassaii (http://www.brassaii.com), on the other hand, is bright and airy. A late brunch there one morning included bison burgers, eggs and toast, donuts, and loads of coffee and Bloody Marys.
In addition to all the time spent at the Ritz bars, there was also a stop at The Spoke Club (http://www.thespokeclub.com), a private members club in Toronto, for the premiere after party for Peter Webber’s film Emperor. This was technically work but good friends were in attendance so it felt more like fun. The Spoke Club has several levels, including a lovely rooftop bar, which is the perfect spot for a drink and great views of Toronto, that is, if you know a club member who can get you in.
My last day in Toronto was spent exploring Kensington Market (http://www.kensington-market.ca/Default.asp?id=1&l=1), which was recommended by several locals and became my favorite stop of the trip. It’s an artsy little enclave filled with old houses converted into vintage clothing shops, cute restaurants, and various specialty food stores. I would have loved to do more exploring there but unfortunately I had a flight to catch so my time was cut short. Hopefully another trip to TIFF is in store for me in 2013!