Passport: Check. Tickets: Check. Invites?
New York Fashion Week and the NFL both kick off this Thursday on the same day as Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
We're sending both to the bench.
The only two formations in our playbook are a) hunting dark theaters for awards season contenders and other film brilliance and b) boisterously post-game recapping the brilliance behind ropes and lists in cool venues, courtesy of Grey Goose, who hosts nearly all the choice parties at TIFF this year.
Shinan Govani, one of the top Canadian social columnists (and a MVP TIFF running mate as a Toronto local) has a broader view.
“It's an all-you-can-eat cultural buffet,” Govani told TheWrap. ”It's a great celebrity aquarium, as well as one of the all-time great studio sniffing grounds.”
Here's what smells good at TIFF. The top 14 parties.
HFPA and Instyle
Saturday night, September 6
Windsor Arms Hotel
The HFPA and InStyle import the stylish celebratory enthusiasm of Golden Globes night at one of the few cross-film, cross-studio, cross-genre gatherings. It reminds everyone they are under the same big tent, albeit a glamorous one in a posh hotel.
Windsor Arms owner George Friedmann greets arriving guests in the lobby himself and efficient fans compact their TIFF stargazing in one place behind the barricade outside.
Friday, September 5, 6-8 p.m.
Jake Gyllenhaal goes from playing cops (“Prisoners,” “End of Watch”) to the “scuzzy” crime scene videographers that get there before the cops do. It's Jake, Rene Russo, Friday night, and Soho House. It's a roman candle to start the weekend before Open Road and Bold Films premiere it at the Elgin at 9 p.m.
Entertainment Weekly's Toronto Must List Party
Saturday, September 6, 4-6 p.m.
Moving over from last year's event at the Windsor Arms, EW is on a hot streak after mega bashes at Comic-Con and Emmy weekend in L.A. Both saw senior figures in the industry angling for access.
The 2014 “Must List” is actually a redacted version of the event's original name: “The Must Get Familiar With Now For Awards Season List”.
Honorees include Steve Carell, JK Simmons, Bennett Miller, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eddie Redmayne, “Whiplash” director Damien Chazelle and the cast of “This is Where I Leave You”: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, and Corey Stoll.
Like HFPA/InStyle, this pan-industry gathering that cuts across projects has a sizzle that the “Our cast has done 5 events together in the last three days” single picture booth brigade parties lack.
“While We're Young”
Saturday, September 6, 9-11 p.m.
Studio wallets are on fire on the first Saturday, stoked by whatever premieres at the Princess of Wales during dinner time.
The last two films to take the early Saturday evening booking at the Princess of Wales both sold: 2012's Ryan Gosling/Bradley Cooper time-jumping drama “A Place Beyond the Pines” and last year's “Can A Song Save Your Life?,” that was the biggest sale of the festival after a head-to-head-to-head bakeoff took place at the after party at Patria last September.
UTA, the sales agents for this Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts comedy, should come with their cell phone batteries at 100%.
*Update* No. 8 (formerly known as Bungalow 8)
Saturday and Sunday, Late until Later
Amy Sacco's festival clubhouse for insiders only adds another Toronto stamp to its passport, after “Bungalow 8” takeovers in Cannes, Venice, Sundance, and Art Basel in the last year.
Harvey Weinstein outlasted this relentless party columnist last year on Saturday night, perched on the porch as I waived the white flag. Last year, they answered a late call to open the doors a night early when Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and the crew from “12 Years a Slave” wanted to celebrate their strong Friday night premiere. Grey Goose and the Thompson partner with Sacco on the weekend soirees.
“Time Out of Mind”
Sunday, September 7
The Storys Building
AMC has flown the coop as a sponsor, but the Storys Building will remain a hive of activity with high profile celebrations throughout the festival, like this one. Richard Gere plays a homeless man in New York City. Director Oren Moverman reveals “Time Out of Mind” in its world premiere on Sunday night at the Elgin, but the party will be on Duncan Street.
“Welcome to Me”
Friday, September 5, 5-8 p.m.
The Storys Building
Kristen Wiig stars as a “not entirely there” woman for the second straight year at TIFF, after last year's “Hateship Loveship” catfish romance with Guy Pearce. Shira Piven, Jeremy's older sister, directs Wiig, James Marsden, and Wes Bentley. Will Ferrell produces. This is a strong above the line block on the first full day.
“Love & Mercy”
Sunday, September 7, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Hey DJ, get out those Beach Boys 45's.
Paul Dano plays the young Brian Wilson, as John Cusack “burrow(s) into..the middle-aged counterpart,” says the official blurb. It has early buzz.
This is a pre-party before the film's 9:30 screening time, so you could hypothetically hit this, skip the flick, and catch NBC's first night of “Sunday Night Football” (Colts at Broncos) for overheated Peyton Manning video packages….if you (oy) “Get Around.”
Participant Media's 10th Anniversary
Monday, September 8, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Brassaii, 461 King Street West
Precedent: Their 10th anniversary yacht party in Cannes won the opening weekend. Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk's producing talents extend from screen to scene.
Back in Cannes, kicking off shoes to board Eric Schmidt's yacht was the first order of business. The second, was welcoming pals and colleagues like Ron Burkle, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Chris McGurk to mix with guests from Lawrence Bender to Brunson Green, and Robin Bronk to Justin Bieber.
On Monday, they'll toast Khalil Gibran's “The Prophet”, “Merchants of Doubt,” and “The Look of Silence.”
Sunday, September 7
Brassai on King St. West
Emmy results be damned, they're still the newest and strongest aspirational industry brand. And they're rich. And they throw a lot of parties, 3 over 9 nights to celebrate 7 Emmy wins.
Monday, September 8, 8 p.m.
“Rosewater” is Jon Stewart's movie with Gael Garcia Bernal. It's the true story of an Iranian-Canadian journalist covering Iran's elections whose appearance on “The Daily Show” led to his imprisonment. On a meta level, this is the story of how John Oliver landed at HBO.
On screen, there's no jokes. Everyone should be ready for a drink…or 7…after the Monday night premiere.
“Property Brothers” Fans Only
(Actual Name: “The Producers Ball”)
Wednesday, September 3
Royal Ontario Museum
In town a night early and don't want to sit around Le Germain or the Intercontinental watching CFL highlights or HGTV? You can see HGTV live.
Ever since their New Year's Day all-new programming marathon, HGTV has treated 2014 the way an athlete approaches a “contract year”. Chief amongst the faces of the network to go mainstream, the “Property Brothers,” (or at least one of them) even got away with wearing a kilt to the Emmys and still getting stopped for photos (mainly from women.)
The bros host a “Producers Ball” with a “Vintage Circus” theme to “shine a light on the role of producers in film, television, and digital production” the night before Robert Downey Jr. kicks off the actual films at the film festival. Odd? Not really. The “bros” are producers themselves. Kilts optional.
Sunday, September 7
Moss Park Armory
Eone, the massive film and TV distributor, has an equally massive party.
The buzz comes from their scale, with so many partners, projects, and genres both in the film festival, and just in town. They move to a new location, after foisting 29 films in to the 2013 festival, and drawing Keanu Reeves, Jay Baruchel, Chris Cooper, and Abigail Breslin to their Roundhouse bash last year.
Jason Reitman's “Men, Women & Children”
Saturday, September 6
(Ivan Reitman's) Montecito Restaurant
Co-owner Ivan Reitman's second title on the restaurant he owns with Jonathan Waxman is “Inspiration”. It's just a block away from the Bell Lightbox, but his son Jason will have the star table. Jason's “Men, Women & Children” premieres at 6 p.m. at the Ryerson.
It's an Adam Sandler drama, with an ensemble including Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Jennifer Garner, and Dean Norris.
Also on the Scene:
*Updated* Red Army
Tuesday, September 9, 9:30 p.m.
The Courthouse (57 Adelaide St.)
The “Red Army” is just one nickname for Russia's dominant hockey team in the final decades of the Soviet era. The other: “The Soviet Symphony,” based on their seamless team play. (They practiced four times a day…in the summer.)
Sony Pictures Classics and Gabe Polsky's doc comes to TIFF after a run at Cannes and well received screening at Telluride this past weekend. Their party promises “more hockey players than actors, and in Toronto, they're the real stars.” Jerry Weintraub and Werner Herzog Executive Produce.
Thursday September 4 – Sunday, September 7
At the Spoke Club, 600 King St. West
Festival regular Nikki Beach pops up at TIFF. It's a party spot (White parties, fashion shows) and not heavy on industry figures nor deal making. It's a place to empty a bottle of champagne or lubricate nerves as you wait to find out that Focus acquired your directorial debut, as Jason Bateman did on the opening Friday last year.
The Supper Suite
Moving from Storys, the home of The Creative Coalition dinner and other film parties has elevators at the ready. They are going for altitude, going in to the 31st floor (humbly named) “America” restaurant of the Trump Hotel.
The Storys Building
Daily, throughout the festival
11 Duncan St.
AMC has flown the coop, moving over to the Trump, but Storys will remain a hive of high profile film celebrations throughout the week in addition to the ones named above. The docket includes Al Pacino's “Manglehorn,” Jay and Mark Duplass’ “Adult Beginners” (with laugh-magnet Nick Kroll), and Anna Kendrick's “The Last Five Years.”