For 10 days in September, Toronto becomes ‘Hollywood North’. Celebrities flock to the city premiering their latest films in hopes of creating some Oscar buzz. For a veteran of the scene, the Toronto International Film Festival is more like a marathon of screenings and epic long lines. With over 40 celebrities in attendance, star gazing added an element to the festival that literally transformed public spaces into local stages with loyal fans waiting in the wings.
Roy Thompson Hall is where the gala screenings take place. For those who saw films during the festival, this central location is where one passes through to pick up their tickets. For the special few, it’s where you can catch a glimpse of your favourite celebrity as they glide down the red carpet to greet media before shuffling into the theatre.
I was surprised to see fans camping out in front of the barriers so early in the morning.
They were all vying for that sweet spot and proximity to the TIFF canopy. But what really shocked me was the lack of security controlling the crowds. It was an absolute farce as myself and daring tourists took to the red carpet for some pictures of our own.
For a brief moment, we were the movie stars and not the fans. To think that Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock have walked down the this very catwalk; with paparazzi flashing cameras. This is the spot that the fans just meters away were waiting for and we owned it.
TIFF adds its own subtle yet unmistakable flavour to the city, and this flavour is slightly different for every Torontonian and tourist. I asked fellow OpenCity staffers to share their own TIFF experiences.
“I stood in one line, but the weird temporary community of us perching on garden ledges and benches made it an interesting experience: the way that barriers became seating and a comfortable gathering space gave the city a human scale.” —Danny Brown
“I heard a TIFF-related story from a relative who’s visiting Toronto for the first time. She’s in her seventies and lives in a small town in the countryside outside London. She told me that upon her arrival at Pearson International Airport, the arrival lounges were full of volunteers; TIFF greeters who made her first impression of the city much more pleasant.” —Lauren Miles
Photos by Richelle Sibolboro
Richelle Sibolboro is Managing Editor of OpenCity Projects