Weekend at TIFF

TORONTO, Ontario

Originally Published September 12, 2012

This past weekend wraps up the annual Toronto International film festival (TIFF), and this year I was fortunate enough to experience bits of the festival first hand.

As a virgin to TIFF I was not sure of what to expect. I didn’t know what movies were playing, which actors were acting in which movie, or even who was expected to show up. I was lucky enough to be in the company of my dear cousin Nelly who was an experienced TIFF celebrity hunter who created a schedule for us that would guarantee encountering as many celebs as possible. The original schedule for Saturday went as followed:

Saturday, September 8th

Ryerson Theatre
Screening of: West of Memphis
2:30- Arrive around 1:00
Johnny Depp

Roy Thomson Hall
Screening of: Silver Lining Play book
6:30- Arrive by 5
Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper

Roy Thomson Hall
Screening of: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
9:30 get there 8
Kate Hudson, Matthew Bellamy

But as luck may have it, the weather was not in our favor this year, putting a damp on our carefully planned schedule.

After countless hours spent Friday night on planning the perfect outfit to wear; a versatile one that could easily transform from a cute summer dress during the day, to a sexy outfit for the night; I was greeted to dark menacing clouds Saturday morning threatening to wash me out if I even think about stepping outside. As the rain came down in sheets it was clear that our weekend at TIFF would have to be canceled.

And then a miracle. The sun peaked its way through the sky, pushing away the ominous clouds, sparking a flame under my feet to make my way down town ASAP.

When Nelly and I regrouped we decided that it was already too late to camp out on the red carpet to get a close up spot. With that in mind we decided to dress classy and sexy for a night out in the town, fancy dinner and perhaps an after party.

With both of us in our minis, blazers and heels we arrived; finding the perfect parking spot right between the Ritz-Carlton and Roy Thompson Hall. How convenient- surely is was our lucky night.

When we scoped out the Ritz at around eight, we happened to encounter some celebrity B-listers such as Charlotte Sullivan who played Marilyn Monroe in “The Kennedy’s.” Despite the annoyance of pushy mothers, who out of nowhere shove their young toddlers in front the crowd so people can clear out (because who would push a child back)?  So they can make way for their strollers in front the mob who have been waiting for hours to be at the front, the atmosphere around the Ritz was exhilarating. With my camera ready I was eagerly awaiting the likes of Bradley Cooper or Johnny Depp to make their way out of the countless limos rolling up, to turn, make eye contact and wave and me…but of course that was too much to ask for.

Countless Suv's Limos and cabs pull in front of the Ritz-Carlton
Countless Suv’s Limos and cabs pull in front of the Ritz-Carlton (c) Krystal Seecharan

Closer to nine, Nelly and I decide to make our way across the street to Roy Thompson Hall. The screening of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” staring Kate Hudson was premiering at 9:30; Nelly being a huge Muse fan, was eagerly awaiting a chance to see Matthew Bellamy up-close…lead singer of muse and husband to Kate Hudson.

Our mission to Roy Thompson was a rather eventful one. First we got a red carpet inspired photo shoot taken by Visa, after which our photo was posted on a huge screen, displaying our image to the city making us feel like real celebs. Then we made our way to the L’Oreal tent, where the royal treatment continued. We helped ourselves to free beauty tips and products!

L'Oreal Tent
L’Oreal Tent where we treated ourselves to free beauty products (c) Krystal Seecharan

We finally made our way the gates in front the red carpet. Dozens of reporters and news crews were already set up in the main tent heading inside the theater. After making friends with a few spectators while we wait for Kate, we got to witness human beings in the lowest forms ever. A grown ass woman ridiculed a 14 year old girl for being “too tall” to stand in front of her. The woman publically humiliated the child to the point of tears. Luckily the crowd turned on the lady telling her she should  have came earlier if she couldn’t see, all the while comforting the young teen. Never in my life have I witnessed an adult bully a child, and I hope to never again.

Fans gathered around the red carpet
Fans gathered around the red carpet (C) Krystal Seecharan

Finally Kate’s SUV rolled in. Screams and cheers roared through the streets being heard from afar. Although I am not a huge fan of her, I couldn’t help but allow the sensation of the mod to take over and I myself to couldn’t help but cheer her name. Kate wore an elegant long white dress, surprisingly looking ten times better in person than on screen. Her body looks incredible as well. Audience members were gushing on how absolutely skinny and breath taking she looked…like a real movie star.

Kate Hudson, poising for cameras
If you look closely you can make out Kate, in a long elegant white dress (c) Krystal Seecharan

When the excitement on the red carpet finally cooled off, was when the real fun began.

A spontaneous gesture to head over to the Ritz-Carlton for a drink turned out to be an unforgettable night…Well coming from the life of a boring suburban girl, I get excited by the slightest.

Approaching the front doors of the Ritz was intimidating. With the paparazzi swarming the front doors, tones of screaming fans behind us, and the security, I didn’t feel like I would fit in there. “We, don’t belong here, I don’t think this is a good idea”, I told Nelly. But she insisted that I follow her lead. With her head held high, striding in as confident as ever, she truly looked as though she could be any one of them coming out of the fancy limos. Her stunning beauty and her wave of confidence had the bell boy opening the door wide open for her. I couldn’t help but admire her, as I tried to imitate her confidence, following behind like a loyal puppy.

As soon as we made it in, we made a quick dash to the washrooms, overcome with excitement. Just a few hours ago we were the fans gathered outside the gates behind the paparazzi, trying to catch a glimpse of any celebrity walking in…And now we were actually inside…heading straight for the hotel bar/lounge hoping to scope out a celebrity or at least any prominent people in the media/production/Hollywood industry, I mean I AM a media, journalism student looking for a job, it’s the least I can hope for.

After we purchase our overpriced booze, he head out to the patio. The place was packed both inside and outside. To my disappointment however, the DJ was playing oldies that not even my parents would listen to, making it difficult to groove into a party, dancing atmosphere I usually enjoy when I’m out. Regardless my spirits were high with excitement, anticipating the rest of the night.

And then it happened. ‘Vampire Diaries’ star, Ian Somerhalder appears right in front of us. My jaw drops as I stare into his piercing green eyes. Although I don’t watch the show I was always a huge fan of his from ‘Lost’. I was in love watching him on screen, and was completely star stuck watching him stand literally a foot away from me. We soon followed Ian inside and boldly sat ourselves at the couches right next to his table.

Overcome with giddiness, I felt like I was in high school all over again, and my crush had just came and sat beside me. This school girl excitement is what I missed the most since entering University when I chucked foolish feelings for boys outside the window. It felt great, and fulfilling. I totally forgot what it felt like, to “like” someone, to get nervous when they look your way, to suddenly be conscious of how you look, to not be able to think logically. I felt so stupid to suddenly have a crush on a boy I just met, not even meet because we never even talked or introduced ourselves…to feel this way about a boy I’ve just SEEN. How silly!

Ian Somerhalder behind Nelly
Trying to be sneaky by pretending to take a picture of Nelly, but I was really trying to get Ian Somerhalder, who was standing right behind her (c) Krystal Seecharan

Just when I was forming a strategy on how to introduce myself to Ian, the unimaginably happened. In walks Colin Ferrell, making his way through the bar and heading outside. Totally stunned, without a word Nelly and I looked at each other and quickly made an exit outside to stalk him. Only to find he wasn’t there. We scowled the entire patio over and over again, with no luck. Did we imagine it? No I’m certain it was him, there was no way both of us would mistake him at the same time. I couldn’t believe it. Regardless of the fact that I didn’t get to talk to him the adrenaline shot of just seeing him was a feeling I won’t soon forget. If only guys I know in real life would have this everlasting effect on me whenever they enter a room.

As the night turned into the wee early mornings, Ian left and we realized that we should too. The DJ was not doing a good job in convincing me to stay otherwise, and I’m sure all the A-List celebrities were partying at the HYATT or The SOHO, two places next to impossible to get into.

The night would have been perfect however if I didn’t come home and read on Twitter that Bradley Cooper was spotted outside the Ritz-Carlton, an exact two minutes after we left.

TIFF Day two Sunday September 9th.

After the heart racing night of TIFF fun, Nelly and I decided to spend Sunday downtown, hitting the streets, seeing what’s happening at the red carpet premiers, have lunch somewhere fancy, etc.

On our way to TIFF Sunday
On our way to TIFF Sunday (c) Krystal Seecharan

We found our same lucky parking lot as last night and went over to the Ritz, reminiscing on the fun of last night. A couple of reporters and spectators were camped out outside but no real action was taking place. As we headed over to Roy Thompson to see the red carpet buzz, we helped ourselves to more free SWAG along the way. The Globe and Mail Style treated us with a reusable shopping bag filled with goodies along with an awesome photo shoot. Orville Redenbacher treated us with bags of snack sized popcorn, and L’Oreal delighted us with free makeup once again.

As we were standing behind the campers in front the red carpet, I couldn’t help but notice that the people who were at the very front of the gate, were all standing on step ladders. This I do not understand. If you are at the very front, you have the best view, you can see everything, why would you bring a step ladder making yourself 10 feet tall completely blocking the view of anyone else who stands behind you? It’s the most rude and inconsiderate thing ever. As I observed with dirty looks a man comments rudely to me, “Well you should have gotten here early”. Yes you got here early to get a good spot, but must you bring a step ladder so that no one else can get a view?? Should you be the only person to see the celebrities? What makes you more important than everyone else here? I had to remind myself that I got into an inclusive party last night with actual celebrities in order to keep my cool and walk away. I couldn’t handle the rudeness and ignorance of the people lined up that day, so Nelly and I decide to walk over to MoRoCo Chocolat in Yorkville. A restaurant noted in Toronto for being one of the best high end places were celebs like Jennifer Lopez have been spotted dining.

People at the front standing on platforms
People at the front standing on platforms, blocking the view of people who come behind (c) Krystal Seecharan

It was about a 40 min walk, but we didn’t mind. The weather was nice and we had a lot of talking and catching up to do, which made 40 minutes seem like four.

As we made our way we stopped off at the HYATT, where we know the real celebs were staying at. Unfortunately security was tight, and was quick to call authorities when more than 15 people stood in the driveway entrance. In fact it was almost impossible to see the entrance to the hotel where the bouncers were not afraid to get rough with you if you crossed the sidewalk onto “private property”. Oh well.

In Front of the HYATT
In Front of the HYATT (c) Krystal Seecharan

We then proceeded to MoRoCo Chocolat for a disappointing lunch. Don’t get me wrong it tasted fine, and the portion sizes were big, but with all the hype it received I was expecting better. The worst part was, they only had two flavors of macaroons left. The thing they were most noted and named for…they didn’t even have.

We then started the trek back home. Not disappointed we didn’t see any celebs or that nothing extravagant happened. But content that we had a good evening and got to take part in one of Toronto’s finest events; TIFF.


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