aaron harris/canadian press
I used to be a Toronto Film Festival fanatic. I wasn’t a film buff, film student or connoisseur. No, admittedly, I just loved the whole fanfare of it all — the red carpet, the gala movies with everyone dressed to impress, the hot parties, and of course, the real honest-to-goodness Hollywood A-list of celebrities to be spotted.
For years, whether as a movie-goer, or once as an official Festival photographer, or through friends in the film industry, I’d live it up during TIFF. Lots of good movies, plenty of access to VIP parties, all followed by great stories to tell.
One year it was Pierce Brosnan who was breathing drunkenly in my face, “Ah, if only I weren’t married...”; another I was hanging with Liev Schrieber; one year I was invited to dinner for 12 with Ralph Fiennes, followed by a night of partying; and my favourite, the year I met, chatted and laughed for hours with Brad Pitt.
nathan denette/canadian press
And in case anyone doesn’t believe me, there’s a paparazzi photograph of us together in a Japanese celebrity magazine, and I have a copy of it!
A few years have passed since then. I’m now married with a baby, who I’d much rather be snuggling then jostling about in an attempt to buy an overpriced martini.
And, naturally, I’m older.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find that this year the festival hype and exaggerated glam hasn’t changed. The red carpet, replete with paparazzi, was laid out for everyone to walk up at the Jie and d. opening party. All the guests felt important. According to the doorman, “Everyone thinks they’re someone, and everybody’s on “the List.” (There are multi-lists.)
At this party, Danielle, the PR hostess, channelled Kate Hudson, and several of Canada’s Next Top Model runner-ups arrived, circling around like a gaggle of geese, never losing physical contact with one another.
The biggest celebrities that night were Farley Flex and Zack Werner, two of our Canadian Idol judges, both of whom, I found out, are really nice guys.
And at Saturday night’s gala movie, Babel, starring Brad Pitt, the red carpet was saved for the Prince of Hollywood himself, his co-stars, director and entourage. I found myself sitting three people and a thin aisle away from my one-time pal, Brad, and I could barely keep my eyes on the film (despite the fact it was extremely engaging). And as we all exited, I touched his arm, we met eyes and I told him I had enjoyed the film. He thanked me genuinely and smiled. (Could there have been a twinkle of recognition?)
Next thing I knew, I was floating along two steps behind him as part of his small entourage. Just as I was swept along with him towards the Green Room, I realized that my priorities had shifted and I wanted to go home to my husband and baby.