Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive) at SPC dinner with Sony Classics' Tom Bernard and Michael Barker (right) and producer Jeremy Thomas.
Hundreds of movie screen at the annual Toronto International Film Festival, new films launching for the first time and others arriving from other festivals. All are hoping to gain traction with critics and audiences alike from a festival that is considered an importanta showcase for fall films. With so many films and filmmakers in the Canadian city, distributors and marketers aim to garner attention in the opening days of the fest while attention on the event is at its peak.
Specifically, the first Saturday night at TIFF can be an endurance test. Along with the plethora of screenings, there are typically at least a dozen parties, dinners, and intoxicating brouhahas to choose from, both uber exclusive or merely exclusive. It is also the night that two popular dinners hosted by Sony Pictures Classics and IFC Films/Sundance Selects take place on opposite ends of town. SPC has hosted its annual dinner uptown for years at Creme Brasserie, a tony restaurant tucked away behind the Four Seasons in TIFF's former stomping grounds in the city's midtown area.
This year the company has nine films at TIFF, including Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie, Charlie Paul's For No Good Reason, Ralph Fiennes' The Invisible Woman, Frank Pavich's Jodorowsky's Dune, John Krokidas' Kill Your Darlings, Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox, Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive, Ashghar Farhadi's The Past, and Teller's Tim's Vermeer.
Filmmakers and cast joined the dinner for pre-drinks and a sit down, while fans eager for photos and an autograph strained to look inside. Ralph Fiennes, who will be feted at the upcoming New York Film Festival with a Gala Tribute, joined the soiree along with actor Daniel Radcliffe (Kill Your Darlings) and Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (The Past), hosted by SPC's co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard.
IFC Films/Sundance Selects president Jonathan Sehring with director Hirokazu Koreeda (Like Father, Like Son) and Tom Yoda, CEO of Gaga Communications.
IFC Films/Sundance Selects is screening seven features in the festival this year, including Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche—which will have its U.S. debut at NYFF along with Claire Denis' Bastards and Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son—as well as Francois Ozon's Young & Beautiful, Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel's Finding Vivian Maier and Arie Posin's The Face of Love.
The dinners went late, but after all the food and wine there was more. Fox Searchlight hosted a party for its films 12 Years A Slave, Belle, Dom Hemingway and Enough Said just a few doors down from IFC Films. And directly across the street, Focus Features threw their bash for Dallas Buyers Club. I took in some of the events in tandem with Film Society Executive Director Rose Kuo, who also made a stop at the Unifrance party (a full ten percent of TIFF's films come from France this year).
With wine, food, filmmakers, talent, schmooze and a late night walk home. It was a Saturday night in Toronto…
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi with producer Alexandre Mallet Guy at SPC dinner.
Asghar Farhadi won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2011 for A Separation. He's back with The Past (Le passé), about an Iranian man returning to Paris to finalize his divorce from his French wife after years in Tehran. He is surprised to learn that she has taken up with a new man, and a web of deceit regarding her new lover's comatose wife is gradually revealed.
Blue Is the Warmest Color actress Adèle Exarchopoulos (center) with IFC Films execs Shani Ankori (right) and Lauren Schwartz.
FilmLinc Daily spoke with Blue Is the Warmest Color actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux here in Toronto (interview will be published soon). Though the two were co-awarded the Palme d'Or in Cannes for their work on the film back in May, they still appeared surprised by the instant attention and notoriety they've received on both sides of the Atlantic. They asked if people in America were aware of the Palme d'Or. Abdellatif Kechiche's film about a young lesbian couple's evolving relationship has won over audiences in Toronto.
Sony Classics' Tom Bernard with director Charlie Paul (For No Good Reason) and artist Ralph Steadman.
In SPC's documentary For No Good Reason, Johnny Depp pays a call on his friend and hero Ralph Steadman and we take off on a high-spirited, raging, and kaleidoscopic journey discovering the life and works of one of the most distinctive radical artists of the last 50 years. The film's director Charlie Paul (with hat) and the film's subject Ralph Steadman hang with Sony Classics co-president Tom Bernard for the cocktail hour at Toronto's Creme Brasserie before the sitdown dinner.
Tim's Vermeer subject Tim Jenison and producer Farley Ziegler.
Teller (one-half of comic duo Penn & Teller) directed Tim's Vermeer, which is having its World Premiere here in Toronto and will have its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival. The story revolves around inventor Tim Jenison (pictured), who seeks to "understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer." Sony Classics typically only releases a couple docs per year and one insider described this one as absolutely "fascinating."