Film fans will be in heaven when the Toronto International Film Festival begins Thursday. Whether you’re hoping to catch Brad Pitt’s newest flick or some subtitled fare, there’s something for everyone.
But let’s get real: while some movie-goers are here to see the most inspiring foreign film of the decade, many are more excited to meet the stars TIFF attracts.
As a shameless TIFF addict of four years, Tori Nixon has had her share of brushes with the famous. Here are some of her best tips to help you make the most of your celeb stalking–er, star-gazing–experience.
1. Roy Thomson Hall attracts the biggest stars
A good place to start your celeb search is Roy Thomson Hall, where TIFF’s galas are held. If you’re not on the guest list, join other eager fans in the nearby David Pecault Square and you’ll see somebody ultra-famous every night.
My second time at TIFF, I cluelessly wandered over to a red carpet premiere and found myself face-to-face with George Clooney.
Be warned: because of the huge crowds, you aren’t likely to actually meet the stars here unless you take the fanboy route and camp out for hours. But if you’re shy and okay with admiring from afar, this is your spot.
2. Smaller theatres – like Ryerson’s – are your friend
TIFF’s screenings are spread out downtown, from the Elgin to the Princess of Wales to right here on campus. Last year I went to a screening of Ceremony, starring Uma Thurman at U of T’s Isabel Bader Theatre. To my surprise, Canadian film royals Ivan and Jason Reitman also showed up, as did Henry Winkler, who played The Fonz on Happy Days.
Check out Ryerson Theatre for younger and edgier films, like last year’s 127 Hours. It also seems to be the theatre where, in my experience, people are most likely to actually meet celebs. Being able to stroll there from class (or bed) is a bonus.
3. Bring something to get signed
This is an important one. While it may seem like a great idea to ask Ryan Gosling to sign your boobs in the heat of moment, but three days later you’ll have nothing to show for it.
Avoid bringing glossy photos of celebrities. Those scream, “I’m going to hawk this on eBay tomorrow.”
I was once mobbed by several middle-aged male autograph hounds trying to collect some of those from Chronicles of Narnia heartthrob Ben Barnes.
Try to bring something more personal, like an autograph book or a DVD, and don’t forget your camera!
4. Don’t be creepy
Remember: you want to be a fan, not a stalker.
Toronto has a reputation for having respectful fans, and perhaps that’s why the A-list gladly shows up at TIFF year after year. Go grab your autographs and photos at premieres and parties, but give the stars their space.
It’s cool to hang out in Yorkville for a few hours on the off-chance you see somebody. I’ve done that. Last year I saw Jay Baruchel stepping out of his car and Blake Lively coming down Bloor Street.
However, it’s not cool to sit outside the Four Seasons Hotel with a paparazzi camera all week. That’s just sad.
5. Open up and make festival friends
One of the great things about TIFF is how alive Toronto becomes. Whether you’re seeing a film or even just waiting around to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, TIFF can be the perfect opportunity to meet people.
Even if you don’t stay in touch with your line-up buddies after the night’s over, you’re bound to hear stories of festivals past and useful movie reviews.
Be friendly to the stars and they’ll come back; be friendly to the person behind you in line and you’ll have a pal for next year’s festival or, if you’re lucky, your own big screen-worthy romance.