One of the greatest things about living in Toronto is that you are in the heart of Canada's entertainment hub, and the best part about living in Toronto in September is a little something called The Toronto International Film Festival.
TIFF is one of the biggest festivals of the year (right up there with Cannes and Sundance) and brings some of the biggest names in Hollywood (and the rest of the world too) to this fair city.
I had been wanting to go to the festival for a few years now and since I am now actually living here (feels really weird to say that) I actually get the chance to.
To be completely honest I didn't put much thought into it until I heard that Woody Allen - my all time favourite director, and a huge inspiration to me - would be showing up to premiere his new film Cassandra's Dream starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. And so my quest for Woody began.
I had tried to get tickets earlier in the week to no avail. The man on the phone suggested calling at 7 am the day of, and if that didn't work to show up to the rush line. Well 7 am came and I called only to find out that the box office wasn't open until 10. This angered me significantly. And so at 10 I called again only to be informed they had stopped selling tickets. Now I was pissed! However I was determined...
That night we headed off to Roy Thomson Hall. When we arrived the crowd had already gathered - most of them there to see Ewan or Colin (including some stupid old hag who wouldn't shut up about Ewan and more or less insulted us for wanting to see Woody), not caring that they were about to see a living legend - and we did our best to get a view of something. And then Woody got out of his limo. I freaked. We did our best to get a shot of him, but it was difficult. He turned to the crowd very briefly and then headed out to walk the red-carpet leaving all of us in the dust. We did manage to get a few pictures though, which can be seen over at Facebook.
This was a real bummer for me. I really wanted to see him close up, possibly get an autograph. After all, this guy is one of my heroes! To make matters worse the rush-line was so long there was no way we were going to be able to get into the film.
We decided to wait around until after the show got out, hoping we might see them once more. And thats when it began to pour. We were caught in this huge rainstorm - we ended up flagging a cab and heading back to rez.
The night was far from successful. It was quite the downer.
However my TIFF adventures were far from over...
Last night we had just finished dinner around 8 when I mentioned to that the new film with Ellen Page (one of the finest actors working today, who also happens to be from Canada, and who I am madly in love with) was premiering at 9.45 and if maybe he wanted to check it out. It was all very last minute, but since we both love Ellen Page, and really had nothing better to do we headed off.
When we arrived, the line up was around the block. We couldn't believe it. There was no way these people all wanted to see The Tracey Fragments. Turns out, they didn't. Most were there for Déficit or rather Gael García Bernal who was making his debut as a director. It was in the rush line that we met Duncan, a cool dude from Wales who had just finished his script-writing class and was going for one last blow-out before heading back to the working world (incidentally, he also is a big fan of Mark Kermode. Needless to say we got along great!)
As the line grew shorted (as Déficit had sold out) people decided to go see Tracey Fragments instead. This pissed us off as we were terrified that we wouldn't get to see it, while these people who didn't even know what it was about would get a chance to.
But we had no need to worry. We got in. And it was one of the most incredible cinematic experiences of my life.
The whole film is told in split screen, and while you'd think this would be rather difficult to watch - it was incredible. While it was disorienting at times, this was mostly as a result of us being in the second row - and the screen being so close and huge - however this also made the film an incredibly visceral experience.
Following the film, there was a question and answer period with the director, the editors, other members of the crew, and a few members of the cast (this is where I mention that I knew a cast member, Daniel Fathers, however he had a tiny role and wasn't present at the screening). And Ellen came down. And Nate and I freaked. She was there, 10 feet from us, maybe closer. And she was amazing. She was chill, and natural, and smart... it was so cool to actually be seeing her in person. Nate took lots of pictures, most of which can be found over at his Facebook.
But that wasn't it.
As we all began to filter out of the audience, Ellen was hanging behind to talk to some people. I decided that I would be a tool and go and ask for an autograph... after all some guy asked for a picture with her and she obliged. I almost got it too! I was right next to her - less than a foot away from her... shaking like an 80 year old man with Parkinson's! She was busy talking with a producer (who was trying to hire her... yeah that's right, we witnessed a deal) and not being a douche I didn't interupt. Just when I thought I would get my chance the theatre usher told us we had to leave theatre so they could clear out for the next film. Any autographs or photos would have to be done outside...
So we waited, and she was there - but she was talking with her friends (including Mark Rendall also from ReGenesis, and also the voice of Arthur...) and I would have felt weird interrupting her. Eventually it was time they took off to head off to a party and we were heading out of the theatre as she was leaving... and she did look at me... I think she could tell I wanted an autograph or something but was too nervous.
We hung outside for a little bit, hoping we could get an autograph from the director, Bruce McDonald - but he too was busy talking with friends. Mark Rendall was also right there, and also talking to someone so I couldn't interrupt.
All in all - despite missing out on prime autograph opportunities, it was one of the most amazing nights of my life. I know that I was more excited by these Canadian celebs than I would have been with most of the people at TIFF, and the fact that we got so close to them, could of very well talked to them made it all the more cool.
I should mention that my friend, Nessa, got to see Cassandra's Dream (and Woody - numerous times) and she said it was great. She also knows the producer of Tracey Fragments, and I got her to pass on my message of how incredible the film was.
All in all - my first TIFF experience was incredible. And now that we've done it once, we'll know better for next year. Hopefully Ellen will be back and I can get up the guts to say something... that is if she hasn't ballooned into a superstar... which with 2 new movies coming out (including Juno which is supposed to be amazing, and may even get her an oscar nom according to some) she very well could be.
What a night.