2011 Toronto International Film Festival

DailyXY’s TIFFtown blog is sponsored by the Alliance film, Drive

Though it doesn’t officially end until Sunday, TIFF is a much tamer beast now. The international stars and industry types have mostly departed, along with paparazzi seeking fresher prey, leaving local cinephiles with a more relaxed atmosphere for their festival-going. For our final TIFF blog, some very random observations and our irreverent unofficial TIFF awards.

First, a warning to Toronto publicists. Never schedule a non-TIFF media event during the first five days of the fest. As one flack told us, “TIFF just sucks the media air out.” We observed exactly that, at the decidedly under-attended Gladstone Hotel launch for CBC TV series, Life Is a Highway, a look at the Canadian music scene of the ’90s. Attendance was just as sparse for a party hosted by LibertyTrax, a Montreal-based international digital music licensing service.

You can’t blame publicists for trying to use the TIFF-fuelled lust for celebrity sightings to their advantage. The invitation to the launch party for CubaFiesta, a new Toronto-spawned music and film festival launching in Cuba in Dec. 2012, listed the possibility that attendees might include such stars as Clive Owen, Laura Linney, the Weinsteins, Norman Jewison, Seth Rogen and Ralph Fiennes. They did add the caveat “schedules permitting.” We didn’t actually spot any international boldface, but the stars missed a fab party on The Pilot’s rooftop. Lovely mojitos, food and music (we caught the dynamic duo of Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran).

The 2011 TIFF was the first to use Bell Lightbox as its media HQ. Teething problems were to be expected, but in the first few days, it was more like a throbbing wisdom tooth. Jammed or slow elevators, long queues in stuffy corridors and late starts for press conferences caused much grumbling amongst media types (including yours truly), but things improved in later days. We have just learned that next year TIFF will move the press conferences from the problem-plagued sixth floor locale.

On the plus side, a media lounge hosted by Shangri-La (a new luxury hotel opening at University and Adelaide next year) was an oasis of calm and great service amidst the Lightbox bustle. Once word got out, the food provided there disappeared quickly. Over at the Hyatt Regency industry HQ, happy hour attracted a similar feeding/drinking frenzy. Not sure what that says about the financial health of the film and media industries. Being gouged $3.70 for a small cup of lousy coffee at the same venue made it a little more understandable.

Without further ado, the DailyXY TIFF Trophies. The envelopes, please…

Hottest Movie Honey
We call it a tie between Evan Rachel Wood and Robin Wright. In the fine political thriller The Ides of March, the former bedded both the George Clooney and Ryan Gosling characters. You could say they went in-tern. In Rampart (pictured), Ms. Wright (she has dropped the Penn) coupled steamily with Mr. Wrong, bad cop Woody Harrelson. Say what you will about Sean Penn, but he has impeccable taste in women.

Funniest Nude Scene
The nudist camp sequence in the delightful Sons of Norway. Our young punk protagonist refuses to doff his Union Jack undies while surrounded by a sea of generally unattractive flesh. At TIFF, the film’s executive producer, John Lydon, confessed to a similarly rotten experience in his youth.

Best Pants-Suit Generation Female Sex Symbol
It was rather shocking to see English actress Charlotte Rampling so convincingly portray a dying 80-something matriarch in Eye of the Storm. Back in the ’70s, with films like The Night Porter, The Damned, and Farewell, My Lovely, she fuelled the fantasies of many young males. Flashbacks to earlier lust-filled days reminded us why. Her fine performance was matched by Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis as her children.

Bono’est Fashion Victim
It can only be Bono. On a sweltering day, in a stuffy Bell Lightbox room for the From the Sky Down press conference, the man insisted on the rock star black leather jacket. (Runner-up: The Edge, for that perma-skullcap.)

Medusa Wannabe
Perhaps the biggest TIFF controversy, “MadgeGate,” centred on rumors that Madonna’s people instructed fest volunteers to not dare cast their eyes upon the diva, who was here plugging W.E. Strongly denied, of course, but the simple fact that this sounded credible speaks volumes about the woman’s reputation.

Posting from TIFF has been a blast. Nothing left to say, but: Fade to black.

Image courtesy of TIFF.

DailyXY’s TIFFtown blog is sponsored by the Alliance film, Drive.
"TIFFtown" is sponsored by the Alliance film, Drive.

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