TIFF 2014: Favourite Moments

Another TIFF came and went, and while I was only here to catch the first few days of the festival, this year’s celeb sightings were pretty memorable to say the least. Below are my top 5 TIFF experiences this year. Grab some snacks, it’s going to be a long one.

1. Variety Studio Presented By Moroccanoil At Holt Renfrew

Last year, Variety Studio was definitely a highlight, but this year…oh, this year was juicy! After enjoying my amazing Moroccanoil hand/arm massage just like the one celebs were getting (hey, Jemy!), I settled down on the couch to people celeb-watch, and let me tell you, being a fly on the wall at one of these things can be very insightful. While there was no Fassbender action this year, I did find myself in the eye of the Cumberbatch-Redmayne-Worthington-Goode-Knightley-Jones-Leech tornado…the Brits taking over the room in a loud, accented storm of hugs, compliments, and camaraderie. You could just tell that all those actors are truly fond of each other, and are definitely not “over it” all just yet.

For all the Cumberbatch fans out there, your beloved did seem to be genuinely nice and funny. Upon arrival, he checked out the Moroccanoil station, trying a bit of cream on his hands, before joining the rest of his group for a lively chat. Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch were hugging right above me as I shrinked back into the leather couch, trying not to trip anyone with my feet and knees. That’s when I overheard Redmayne exclaiming post-hug “You smell…delicious!” to Cumberbatch. Must’ve been the Moroccanoil. Redmayne’s fiance Hannah Bagshaw was in the room too, looking lovely and normal, sharing a hug with Cumberbatch, not stuck to Eddie’s side, navigating the room on her own. But back to Cumberbatch…at one point, when the cameras were rolling for a Sam Worthingtoninterview, and a Variety staffer yelled out: “WE ARE ROLLING! QUIET, PLEASE!”, Benedict cheekily and loudly quipped: “Rolling with Sam Worthington? Let’s talk louder then!”, before peeking behind the interview curtain to wink at Worthington.

Out of all the hot Brits in the room, Keira Knightley was actually the one I wanted to get close to (not in a creepy way, I promise!). She’s one of my favourite young actresses, and I was most definitely starstruck. I tried to summon the courage to ask her for a photo, but she was never alone – either chumming it up with her co-stars, or chatting with her hair and makeup people. She wore a beautiful Chanel dress, and I tried to inconspicuously sneak a few shots for my Instagram. She smiled a lot, laughed a lot, shared that she was tired, but definitely didn’t look it. She looked happy, thin, but not frail, healthy, and so very beautiful. Can you tell I have a bit of a crush?

Other notable moments at the Variety Studio included: grabbing a photo with the delightful Bill Nighy, who was walking around with an apple in his hand, never having the moment to himself to actually take a bite, and who made eye contact with everyone in the room, instead of ducking his head and avoiding the normals; watching Richard Gere chatting up the hot tequila girls; realizing that the woman on the couch next to me is Elizabeth Banks, who changed out of her white pumps and into some Birkenstocks for comfort; observing the insanely handsome Matthew Goode and super-stylish Jena Malone light up the room with their larger than life personalities (on two different days) – definitely not wallflower types; sitting on the couch next to Downton Abbey’s Branson’s publicist, before Branson Allen Leech himself leaned over me to talk to her; sharing a serendipitous moment with Mark Ruffalo outside the Variety Studio’s bathroom – if life was a movie, that would’ve been our meet-cute.

2. Armani CN Tower TIFF Party

But Variety Studio wasn’t the only place crawling with celebs. Roberta Armani hosted one of the most glamorous parties of the week, held at the city’s most iconic landmark – the CN Tower. DJd by Mark Ronson, and attended by the likes of Denzel Washington (walked right by me, nbd), Spike Jonze, Chloë Grace Moretz (surrounded by a very large group of girls), Anthony Mackie, Jessica Chastain (nicest actress ever!), Laura Dern, Richard Gere, Josh Charles, Elisha Cuthbert (styled by George Antonopoulos) and Dion Phaneuf, this was one of those not-to-be-missed soirees. The party was held to celebrate the world premiere of Filmsof City Frames, short films by students from six international film schools, who used Armani’s Frames of Life eyewear as a “perceptual filter.”

We danced, ate chocolates, sipped champagne, and tried to keep our cool, as celebs enjoyed their night and the beautiful view, alongside the rest of the attendees. Not too many of them opted for private, roped-off booths, most choosing to remain on the floor or next to the bar. And while usually I’m the grandma who wants to go home an hour into the party, my friends and I stayed almost until the end this time, it really was a lot of fun.

3. St Vincent Premiere on Bill Murray Day

I kicked off my TIFF celebrations with tickets to the gala screening of the latest Bill Murray film St. Vincent, generously sent to me by the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls – my fave place to shop when I head across the border to Buffalo (once, I actually bought a pair of Acneboots there for $99…true story). Le bf and I lined up an hour or so before the film, when it suddenly started to pour. Mind you, I am no rain wuss, but this was no ordinary drizzle – this was a major storm with thunder, lightening, and buckets of water pouring down from the skies on top of our uncovered heads. Despite the weather, Bill Murray still made sure to do a quick jaunt to shake hands with the fans lined up in front of Princess of Wales Theatre, getting soaked as a result.

Le bf and I watched the movie, soaking wet, in an air-conditioned theatre, but despite the shivers and the discomfort (sitting on top of my drenched and cold Pink Tartan skirt was no small feat), we enjoyed the movie immensely. If you liked Lost in Translation, you’ll love St. Vincent. Grumpy Murray, paired with wide-eyed newcomer Jaeden Lieberher were a match made in quirky movie heaven, and Naomi Watts playing a pregnant Russian prostitute was a pleasant surprise – who knew this Oscar-nominated actress had comedic chops?

After the movie, the cast sat down for a Q&A session, with Murray heckling a guy in a Raptors jersey and rambling after forgetting what the question was. Since le bf and I were able to score front row seats, we got to see it all up close and personal, but sadly that’s the closest I’ve gotten to Bill Murray this TIFF. Maybe next year, I’ll get to invite him to a BBQ or something.

4. My Old Lady Cast Party at Brassaii

Another unexpected surprise this festival season was an invitation to a cast dinner for My Old Lady that was held at Brassaii. Attended by the film’s main star Kevin Kline, this was an intimate affair, where NOW Magazine’s Sabrina Maddeaux and I got to enjoy some deliciousBrassaii fair of risotto, crab cakes, and French onion soup. Maggie Smith aka Dowager Countess was not in attendance, which made me a little sad, since I adore the actress so much. But we still had a blast at this French-inspired soiree, watching the cast celebrate their lovely film.

5. Esther Garnick PR’s Essentials Lounge

Once again the Essentials Lounge was there to help the soon-to-be-exhausted TIFF media survive and recover after the festival season. My fave essentials included Viviscal hair vitamins (no stress hair loss, please), The Good Press juice station (watermelon juice heaven!), Calvin Klein underthings, Powerocks phone chargers, SkinCeuticals serum (late nights are harsh on skin), and Micro-Nail buffer machine for manicures in a pinch.

So far, I’ve used some of the goodies from the gift bag, and I’m so happy that I had them on hand post-festival. Covering TIFF may not be the hardest of jobs, but it feels pretty amazing not to have to just grin and bear it. Thanks, Esther Garnick PR for treating the media like celebs!

7. NKPR IT Lounge

Back for its ninth year, NKPR IT Lounge was on fire this year. With Caitlin Cronenberg snapping celeb portraits, and brands like Rudsak, Goody, Tweezerman, David’s Tea, Saje Natural Wellness, and Yo Sox gifting celebs with freebies, this was one busy TIFF lounge. Guests in attendance included Jamie Lannister Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sam Rockwell, Jena Malone, Bobby Cannavale, John Cusack, Sarah Gadon, Felicity Jones, among many others.

And while there were no celebs present on media preview day, we still got to experience the full celeb treatment by snagging some awesome freebies, and devouring the delicious Yogen Früz frozen yoghurt.

7. Shoppers Drug Mart TIFF Suite 2014

Another lounge that was mainly focused on prepping media for TIFF festivities wasShoppers Drug Mart/Sally Hershberger TIFF Suite. This year, I was lucky to have three appointments – I had my makeup done by a Stila makeup artist, hair did by Whitney from theSally Hershberger salon in New York, and my nails painted with Ceramic Glaze. Once I was done, I felt like a million bucks…probably how celebs feel day after day, and thanks toShoppers Drug Mart, at least for a day, I was totally pampered. Til’ next TIFF!

Photo Credits: Getty Images for Variety, George Pimentel, Ryan Emberley

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