Film Festival continued

I realize I'm a bit behind on this post, however I still had to include my grand adventures during the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Here are some of the events I attended during TIFF and some of the wonderful people I was lucky enough to bump into.


My first TIFF event got me hooked. Held at South of Temperance in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown, this red carpet event was packed with industry names on a strict guest list. With an open bar and chefs serving gourmet snacks, miniature hot dogs and a trolley full of gelato, it was pretty easy to have a fun-filled night .

The majority of party goers were from California, but everyone seemed to have the same love for Toronto as I do. I met Charles Heaphy and his colleagues from City National Bank who were scoping out TIFF films to finance. They were very friendly and I was happy to spend more time with them at Nikki Beach and the CAA party just days later. I left the event with friends to pursue an after hours lounge called Fubar. One of the wonderful things about TIFF is almost all restaurants and lounges are open and serving until 4 am. We made sure to grab gift bags on our way out which included chocolate, cookies, various gift cards, designer makeup kits, Stella Artois glass sets and much more.

From left - Nikki, Charles Heaphy (Senior Vice President, Entertainment Division, City National Bank) & colleagues.

The amazing gelato trolley


The next day I ventured to the Focus Features event held at Brassaii. I enjoyed the party with two very close girlfriends, Nikki and Paula, and a great network of people from Apple including Michael Huntsman. A very special thank you goes out to my friend, Michael, for providing us with fake names to get into the event that night. Everyone sipped on vodka water bar limes made with pomegranate vodka. They tasted exactly like a liquid form of sour tart candy which was a little dangerous as the beverage went down too smooth. The chef also convinced me to try decadent brownies displayed on a tray of sweets and ice cream. After he explained they were made with one of the finest chocolates of the world, I knew I had to try it for myself. He didn't exactly have to twist my arm on that one.

Everyone had a blast playing around and joking on the red carpet. Inside guests filled out comment cards with personal funny stories. They could then describe the story in detail and on camera in the spirit of the film It's Kind of a Funny Story starring Zach Galifianakis .

Left - Nikki, Paula and I arriving at the Focus Features party
Right - Nikki and Paula holding up their "It's Kind of a Funny Story" comment card

Left - Michael Huntsman (the face of Apple) and I
Right - Joking around on the red carpet. These girls are hilarious and I always have the best time with them.


Later that night our group hit Nikki Beach. Despite being a major city, Toronto doesn't officially have a Nikki Beach. For those of you reading and new to this club concept, Nikki Beach is the ultimate beach club where dining, fashion, music and entertainment combine to create the ultimate party. This club is internationally known and enjoyed in major cities including Miami Beach, Saint-Tropez, Saint Barths, Marbella, Cabo San Lucas, Marrakech, Koh Samui, and New York City. It has even been deemed “The Sexiest Place on Earth” by the London Observer. Having experienced Nikki Beach in St. Tropez and Miami, I was anxious to see what my city had to offer when Toronto annually transforms C Lounge into Nikki Beach for TIFF. The venue had indoor and outdoor cabanas and a beautiful pool lined with palm trees.

Once inside I was introduced to Oscar-winning producer, Nicolas Chartier. When I found out he was originally from Paris, we had a long chat in French about life and his film, The Hurt Locker. I was quick to notice his down-to-earth demeanor and was fascinated once he explained his story. He told me his life had drastically changed after The Hurt Locker reached stardom. Once a janitor in Paris who lived a very modest life, he took an extremely large risk and mortgaged his house on the film. His talents and risk were luckily rewarded when his film was a success. He now lives a completely different lifestyle in LA with much more income than the average janitor would earn. The Hurt Locker was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won six including Best Picture and Best Director, but it was Chartier's modest and grounded persona that I was most impressed with.

I asked if we could get a picture together, but he gracefully declined as the producer has had his share of negative press including being banned from the Oscars for breaking Academy rules. The great conversation still continued, but I've had to include a picture of Chartier accepting his BAFTA award, as apposed to one of us at Nikki Beach.

The Hurt Locker producers (from left) - Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Greg Shapiro & Nicolas Chartier


Sunday night was devoted to the CAA party which was held in Yorkville under a large white tent. It had the best dance floor of TIFF parties I had seen all weekend, but the highlight of the party was definitely the larger-than-life chess set outside. My friends Nikki and Gary Garfinkel, Senior Vice President of Content and Acquisitions for Showtime Networks, put their chess skills to the test. Despite Gary talking a big game, it was Nikki who took home the champion title. I hope Gary brushes up on his chess skills before TIFF 2011.

I was also introduced to Terry Dougas, a very talented producer in Greece, who just so happened to be born in Vancouver. He's produced such films as The Invention of Lying, The Box and Swing Vote to name a few. Dougas, who is currently working on many projects in LA, had a great energy about him. He's so lovely to chat with because he has one of the best sense of humours I've encountered. I wish him all the best in his upcoming endeavors.

Left - Nikki and Gary playing an intense game of chess
Right - Terry Dougas and I


The following weekend, while most of my new friends had left town, I continued with the TIFF celebrations. A loft warming party at my new place was the starter to a wonderful night. My girlfriends and I ended up at Thompson Hotel which has become one of my favourite spots in the city. The hotel features a beautiful main lounge, underground club and rooftop bar. Lindsay and I just so happened to bump into George Hickenlopper, director of Casino Jack. I was shocked and saddened to hear about his recent passing at the end of October. Although we only met for a brief moment, he seemed like such a genuine and interesting individual. He bought Lindsay and I a beverage on the rooftop and told us about his close friendship with Sienna Miller after filming his movie Factory Girl. I know he will be remembered as an outstanding film director and man.

Close friends - Sienna Miller and George Hickenlopper

Rooftop view of Thompson Hotel in Toronto

Lindsay and I on the gorgeous rooftop overlooking Toronto

As a rookie on the TIFF scene, I rate my overall experience as an A ++. I hope to stay in touch with all the amazing people I met and hopefully see them again before next years TIFF approaches.

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