City Living: Best moments from TIFF 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, hectic and energized times of year for the fourth floor. The film fest creates the type of atmosphere that we thrive on and despite the fact that we are pulling 18-hour days, we really do love it. We may say we’re stressed out and tired but the truth is, we’re catching a buzz from the entire experience and relishing every moment. Once the red carpets are rolled up and the celebs are on to their next destination, we are left with new experiences and great memories.
We have put together our most unforgettable moments from TIFF 2011. We want to hear your stories as well, so please tweet, comment and share with us.
Watching K’naan perform to a small crowd of about 350 people at Festival Music House, front and center, and hearing his yet-unreleased tracks performed live for the first time.
Image courtesy of JJ Thompson.
Bringing Sarah Silverman from the wrong red carpet at the Alliance party to the right red carpet. She was very cool and laid back, and took it all in stride. We got to chat with her for 10 minutes, and laughing with a comedian is the best experience.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images.

Chatting with The Sheepdogs during soundcheck, then hearing them for the first time at Festival Music House. They are now a huge fourth floor favourite, and we can’t wait to see them when they come back in November. Filmmakers – USE CANADIAN MUSIC!
 Image courtesy of Ryan Emberley.

Seeing Drizzy ride up to the Breakaway premiere in a rickshaw. Way to keep it real, Drake. 

Catching a glimpse of the very chic Tilda Swinton on our way back from the Tastemakers Lounge. Girl crush solidified.

Meeting Backstreet Boy Howie D. at the Hello! Canada party. A childhood dream long in the making. He’s just as cute in real life. 
 Our friend Tracy with Howie D.

Hitting the Strombo party late-night and turning around on the patio to find Bono and K’naan standing immediately behind us. The party was immediately amped up a notch (or five).

Everyone getting ready at the office each afternoon for the night ahead was probably the most fun. Checking out everyone’s outfits, helping with styling advice, zippers and hair – definitely some serious bonding moments, which helped us get through the long hours.  

Our office was basically everyone’s closet for two weeks.

Finally, from Debra, who quite possibly worked the most hours out of us all (and saw the most action!): 

So many favourite moments this year. Between Tastemakers, the Alliance red carpet, Harry Rosen Moth Diaries party, Festival Music House, the four films I worked on – it’s hard to pick just one! I did love being at the Soho House for the Ides of March cocktail party. It was intimate, not too busy and filled with power execs and talent like George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and more. Was one of those ‘it’s definitely TIFF’ moments. Also loved dancing my butt off to Sam Roberts at FMH. Until next year…

The scoop on Tastemakers Lounge at TIFF 2011

The ladies on the fourth floor have a knack for spotting (and starting) hot new trends. That’s why we’re excited to give you the scoop on the gifts and goodies that wowed at our seventh annual Tastemakers Lounge, hosted during the Toronto International Film Festival.

This year, we transformed our InterContinental Hotel suite into a paradise of products for local and international talent in Toronto for the festival.  Guests were quick to snap up chic, one-of-a-kind accessories, many of which are Canadian. Stars personalized Pandora bracelets with gem-studded, 14-karat gold or sterling silver charms and rocked fashionable eye-wear from brands FYSH UK, KLIIK denmark or EVATIK from Western Optical. Crowncap gifted everyone with warm and cozy Nathanial Cole hats. And at the end of a long day working the red carpet, there’s nothing better than a pair of superior, stylish denim when the formal wear comes off. Stars scooped up jeans from Mavi’s newest line, Mavi Gold.
Geoffrey Rush, The Eye of the Storm, trying on a new pair of frames.
With snap-happy paparazzi trolling through Toronto and swarming red carpets, skin and hair care is of the utmost importance. Indeed Labs treated guests to its newest face serum Okrapeptide (a great, natural Botox alternative). Professional in-house stylists from Conair preened and pampered guests with John Frieda styling tools. 
Arlene Dickinson, Dragon’s Den, checking out her new ‘do courtesy of Conair.
As much as we adore great new products and gorgeous apparel, we also know that great finds go well beyond fashion, beauty and jewellery. 

To satisfy the gamer in each of our guests, Mattel Game On! showcased four new games including Angry Birds: Knock on Wood, the board game version of the smartphone favourite. For the music-lovers, ClarityOne equipped talent with 3-D ClarityOneEarbuds featuring a built-in PureSound processor for crisp, clear sound. 

Butter‘s Yara Shahidi picks up Uno Roboto.

There’s nothing we love more than celebrities who interact and engage with fans. For stars ready to sign autographs, Sharpie gifted guests with the ultimate tool for making signatures stylish. After a full day of doing interviews, a working actor needs a good night’s sleep. Canadian line Cilque[s•ilk]  sent guests like Scott Speedman home with 100 per cent silk bedding, pillowcases, an eye mask or a gift certificate.

In between parties and screenings, busy stars need to nosh!  PC showcased its newest line of products, President’s Choice® black label, to the VIP crowd. Visitors who were in the mood for something crunchy and tasty hit up the popchips mini lounge. To quench their thirst, guests grabbed a Smartwater and filled up their brand new Bobble, a resilient, reusable water bottle.
Dustin Milligan, Sisters and Brothers, kicks back with a bag of popchips.

Tastemakers guests also left with gift certificates to Rue Pigalle, Dealuxe and Eleven.

Our guests took their swag home in the adorable Fall 2011 Everygirl Tote snakeskin printed bag from Old Navy and cheeky reusable bags made from recycled t-shirts from Me + You.
Other guests that stopped by included Mary Harron, Sarah Gadon and Sarah Bolger (The Moth Diaries), Don McKellar (I’m Yours), Lasse Hallström (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Kim Wayans, Adepero Oduye and Pernell Walker (Pariah), Jessica Parker Kennedy (50/50), Sam Childers (Machine Gun Preacher), Mike Clatterburg (Afghan Luke), Jennifer Podemski (Take This Waltz), Vinay Birmani (Breakaway), Katie Boland (TIFF Rising Star), Tattiawna Jones (Keyhole), Georgina Reilly (Highland Gardens) and many, many more!
Tastemakers Lounge may be lavish, but it’s not just about swag. Tastemakers is making a donation to CNIB, a charity that provides research, innovative consumer products and advocacy support for blind and partially sighted individuals. CNIB also takes on the huge task of delivering 2.2 million materials in alternative formats like braille and audio to people with disabilities across Canada.
Russell Peters, Breakaway, hopes Okrapeptide will fix his many laugh lines.
We are so proud of Tastemakers Lounge and the wonderful sponsors who provide truly fantastic and innovative products year after year. See you at TIFF 2012!
Visit our Facebook page for more pics from the lounge.
Check out some of our past Tastemakers posts and discover our amazing history. 

Media, Darling: Norman Wilner

A lifelong Torontonian, Norman Wilner became the senior film writer for NOW Magazine in early 2008. Previously, he reviewed films for Metro newspapers across Canada, and covered every video format imaginable (yes, even Beta!) for the Toronto Star column from 1988 to 2006. These days, his DVD column appears Tuesdays on MSN Canada.

His byline has appeared in Cinema Scope, Montage, Marquee and even The Hollywood Reporter that one time. You may also remember him from his appearances as a critic and commentator on any radio or television program that will call him.

In 2008, he was elected secretary and vice-president of the Toronto Film Critics Association; in 2009, he was a member of the features jury for Canada’s Top Ten. A member of the international film critics’ organization FIPRESCI, he has sat on festival juries in Toronto, Montreal, London, Vienna and Palm Springs.

He lives in Kensington Market, just a short walk from any of 14 coffee shops. He’s on Twitter as @wilnervision, and blogs most days at

Photo credit: Michael Watier

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I’ve always wanted to write about film – it wasn’t until my last year of high school that I figured out a way to do it in a fashion other people would want to read. And even that feels like a humblebrag; I still can’t believe my opinion is given any weight beyond “Oh, he liked that? I’ll probably hate it.”
Nah, this is what I had to do. I’m trained for nothing else. And my brother Mike has claimed all sports for himself, so it’s just as well.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
The glib answer would be, “that assumes print will still be around in five years.” But I’m lucky enough to write for NOW, which has only grown stronger as the newspaper industry has declined, and will probably be just as healthy and as essential to Toronto’s arts culture as it was when I joined the staff in 2008. I’d be more than happy to still be doing what I’m doing right now in five years’ time… maybe with a little more television on the side.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Cultivate your masochistic side. It takes a long time to establish one’s voice, and longer still to build a reputation that will draw people to said voice. Whenever anyone asks me for advice, I tell them to start a blog, and maintain a regular publishing schedule; whatever else you do, it’s good to have something that’s exclusively your own. Facebook pages don’t count.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I follow Torontoist, BlogTO and Spacing pretty religiously, both on their websites and their writers’ Twitter feeds. Jonathan Goldsbie, who used to write for Torontoist and now contributes to the National Post, has pointed me to more local news in the last year than any old-media organ.
It’s a rare day when I don’t end up on the websites of The New York Times and The Globe and Mail, and I check The A.V. Club whenever I’m near the Internet — which is, like, always. The radio’s always tuned to CBC, and I occasionally watch CityTV news just to laugh at their hyperbolic intros and general sense of impending doom.
I also keep up with Toronto’s film critic community (after I’ve filed my own reviews, of course); Jason Anderson and Adam Nayman are dear friends as well as excellent writers, so I read them wherever they turn up.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I’ve had some great interviews in the past. I’ve talked to Danny Boyle and Edgar Wright several times over the last few years, and they’re always invigorating. When I was 23 and in full Cassavetes worship, I got to sit down with Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban at a Los Angeles press day celebrating the re-issue of his lost films; that remains one of the best days of my career.
I was lucky enough to get half an hour with Rod Steiger when he came to TIFF with Guilty As Charged in 1991, and an hour with Arthur Penn a few years after that. TIFF’s great for those unexpected opportunities, and for getting to sit down with directors as they come back over the years. I got to knock around with Peter Jackson when he was here with Dead-Alive and Heavenly Creatures, and Terry Gilliam pulled me into his elegant but rambunctious orbit more than once. Richard Donner gave me some invaluable training advice when he heard my obnoxious dog barking in the background during a phone interview. Steve Coogan’s been a great interview every time.

The worst interview I’ve ever done would have to be Mike Leigh, whom I interviewed for Global TV’s Entertainment Desk in 1996, when he came to Toronto with Secrets and Lies. I asked what I thought were halfway intelligent questions – I’d seen all of his films, and wanted to engage him in a genuine conversation about his approach to drama and to casting – and he did everything he could to render the footage unusable, answering in monosyllables and even picking his nose on camera. I was gutted, both personally and professionally. Apparently he just doesn’t like doing television.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“It’s almost never personal,” which my producer, Bonnie Laufer-Krebs, gave me immediately after she watched the Leigh footage. A close second would be “Never apologize for the things you love,” which the late John Harkness was fond of saying – usually after telling me he’d just ordered another boxed set of Japanese gangster movies from Amazon’s U.K. site.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
This sounds incredibly lame, but I just try to be honest in everything I do. That means giving my genuine opinion when I’m asked, for good or ill. A critic who’s worried about offending people by going against the grain or making a controversial argument is already worrying about the wrong things.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Sometimes, you have to take no for an answer. And if you describe every new project as the greatest and most important thing in the history of ever, that just means you’re utterly mercenary and we can’t trust you to be straight with us.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
It comes back to honesty. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and over the years I’ve worked with plenty of good people – Maria Manero and Anna Perelman at Allied Advertising, who set up a terrific TIFF lunch date with Danny Boyle last year on very short notice; Victoria Gormley at Warner Bros., who comes up with opportunities I’d never expect to get from a major studio; Angie Burns, formerly of Maple Pictures; Suzanne Cheriton, Dana Fields, Debra Goldblatt.
I hate?
Pandering. (See above re: “greatest and most important thing in the history of ever.”)
I love?
I love that I get to be a champion for movies that people might otherwise miss, and I love that I work for a newspaper that encourages me to do so at my discretion. I love that I get to talk to filmmakers whose movies I’d be lining up to see anyway: Boyle, Wright, Gilliam, Steven Soderbergh, Kelly Reichardt, Olivier Assayas, Jia Zhang-ke, David Cronenberg, Bruce McDonald, Denis Villeneuve, Denis Cote, I could go on, and that I don’t have to fight for space when those interviews run.
Wait, did you mean actual, tangible stuff? Then the monkey bread at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky in Kensington Market. And now I’m hungry.
I recently finished Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, about the history of Chinese food in America. I’m currently reading John Bradshaw’s Dog Sense, which looks at new perspectives on canine behaviour.
On deck: Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, which he told me about in an interview a couple of years ago and I’ve been waiting to read ever since, and The Erotic Engine by Patchen Barss, which argues that every major technological advance has been in some way motivated by a pornographic purpose. Groovy.
Best place on earth?
I’ve been to Cannes just once, in 2008. If there is a better place for a cinephile, I haven’t found it. I also have a twisted love for Times Square in New York City. Stand in one spot for half an hour, preferably with a latte and a couple of black-and-white cookies, and the whole of humanity will flow past you.
Dinner guest?
Either Terry Gilliam or Billy Connolly. They’re the only two people I’ve met whose charisma cannot be measured by conventional means and they’re both tremendous storytellers.
Jon Stewart is my spirit animal.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I’m a big fan of comedy podcasts, so when Earwolf and Nerdist release versions of their apps for the Android platform, I’ll be all over them.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean, absolutely. I’m mildly allergic to chlorine.
Voicemail or email?
Email. Compact, concise, not prone to garbling when you walk under a bridge… it’s just easier for everyone.

Yum, yum: The Faye Dunaway

Officially launched last week, the Drake Hotel’s dining room has been transformed into Chinatown circa 1940s’ Los Angeles, just in time for TIFF. Draped from top to bottom in red and gold, with dragon fruit cocktails on the Sky Yard, cabaret performances in the Lounge, cigarette girls out front and a playful Chinese menu to match, the 11-day celebration is not to be missed. Throughout TIFF (now until the 18th), the Drake will be serving until 4 a.m. 

This version of the Drake’s Dining Roadshow will last until Saturday, November 19, so if you’re not able to get there this week, you have lots of time to sample the delicious menu. 

No good menu would be complete without tasty cocktails to go with it, and the Drake has created an amazing cocktail menu inspired by TIFF and Chinatown. We’ve snagged one of the recipes to share with you – the Faye Dunaway, named after the actress best known for her role in Chinatown.

Faye Dunaway
1 1/2 oz Skyy Vodka
1 1/4 oz fresh mango juice
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 agave syrup
2 jalapeno wheels
2 dashes Reagans’ Orange Bitters
Muddle ingredients, shake and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a jalapeno slice.

We may not have time to recreate this recipe at home, but you best believe we’ll be popping in to the Drake for a late-night Faye Dunaway after the red carpet.

 Enjoy responsibly, and let us know what you thought of this little piece ‘o heaven in a glass: @rockitpromo.

City Living: Our favourite TIFF memories

Like tons of people in the city, once the air starts getting a little cooler at the end of the summer, we can’t help but feel a little je ne sais quoi. We’re counting down the days for one of our favourite times of the year, TIFF, officially beginning September 8.

We’re totally able to rock 12-hour (+) workdays with very little sleep, and sometimes without being able to share epic moments with our BFFs. The one thing that gets us through these 10 awesomely chaotic days are great moments that make our day (or in many cases) our night, and today we share a select few with you from TIFF’s past.

Think you’ve heard it all before when it comes to film festival? Bet you’ve never heard many of our faves, often from behind the scenes or at late-night gigs. From our memory vaults to you, we’ll be sure to share more after this TIFF is over. Enjoy.

  • Gord Downie closing out Festival Music House last year, playing a solo set to a few hundred lucky people.
  • Oprah literally shutting down all of Yorkville when she attended the ONEXONE party in 2009.
Image source.
  • Julian Schnabel conducting interviews in his silk pyjamas while in town promoting The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Julian wearing his infamous purple sleepwear at the AGO (image via LaineyGossip).
  • Sarah Ferguson’s (a.k.a. the original Fergie, the Duchess of York) six Blackberries – each one is for a different business/charity/personal function and they were carried around in a custom-made Louis Vuitton case that accommodated all six.

  • Being at the same party (for Burn After Reading) as Brad Pitt, Mark Ruffalo, the Coen Brothers, Jeremy Piven and Frances McDormand and realizing there was no VIP section. Because of course, the whole party was VIP (so how did we get in?).
Part of the Burn After Reading cast we spotted at the after-party.

TIFF participants: What are your favourite memories? Tweet us @rockitpromo.

Fashion-able: Transitional Dressing

Admit it ladies: Even though you love summer fashion, you’re already thinking about rocking that new pair of boots you bought, aren’t you?
It’s cool. We know it’s not very Canadian to dream about cold weather in the summer, but killer fall fashion would have any stylish girl contemplating the cold. There’s definitely been talk of leather boots, thick sweaters and fitted bomber jackets On the Fourth Floor as of late.
With fall comes TIFF and Fashion Week, two events full of long days that may start with warm summer mornings, but end with chilly fall evenings. It pays to be prepared with a favourite fall accessory, folded neatly and tucked into a cute bag.
Here are our favourite staples for the hazy period between summer and fall.
An oldie but a goodie, a chic blazer is a go-to accessory for a chilly fall evening. Blazers jazz up an outfit and keep you cozy too. Plus, they’re great for taking a daytime look to a nighttime one – just add killer heels and a great necklace, and you’re good to go.

We’re also loving thigh-high socks a la Cher Horowitz from Clueless. There are so many events during TIFF that require dresses or skirts, and bare legs might be fine at 5 p.m. but not at 11 p.m. Socks are amazing because they fit into any clutch and can cover up bare legs at the end of an evening.
Cher Horowitz rocking some serious thigh-highs.
Of course, you can’t mention perfect fall accessories without including the timeless silk scarf. Especially in a bold colour or pattern, a perfect scarf adds punch to an outfit (particularly with a messy bun and pink lips) while keeping your neck toasty.

 This Matthew Williamson scarf is a perfect between-seasons piece.

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Spring summer 2011 featured loads of lightweight cropped trousers with tapered detailing. The great thing about this style of pant is that they can be worn with a pair of wedges in the summer, and carry you right through fall if paired with ankle booties and a cozy sweater. 
These 3.1 Phillip Lim draped pocket tapered trousers ($375) are a perfect example. Great for a summer night, greater for a fall day. 
 At, get ’em while they’re hot.

Do you have a fave fall accessory? Let us know with a comment or send us a tweet @rockitpromo.