A Weekend in TIFFville
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A Weekend in TIFFville

Photos by Hannah Sider.
“This is the best frosh party I’ve ever been to!”
The twenty-something friend-of-a-friend was one of the surprising majority of “normal”-looking guests at what was not, in fact, a frosh party. He was wearing jeans and a v-neck, which is to say that we don’t actually remember what he was wearing, besides a highly bemused expression.

And who could blame him? In the courtyard of Hart House, clusters of disarrayed cool kids stood not too close to guys who looked like suits, even in ripped-on-purpose jeans. Servers, careful not to trip over piles of empty Red Bull cans, passed trays of tuna tartare and other tiny yummy things. Photographers looked for Polaroid moments and reassured pretty girls they wouldn’t end up “don’ts.”
Because, after all, it was a Vice Magazine party. But the Vice you know and love, hate, or love to hate? Not exactly. Last year’s Festival Ball was the hottest mess of a party we’ve ever stumbled out of, starring Karen O, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and everyone you’ve ever recognized from Facebook. This year, the party was bigger, quieter, almost clean, and very obviously sponsored by CKOne. It smelled more like Hollister than alcohol.
It was left to headliners Crystal Castles to keep teen spirit alive, and no surprise, it took all of five bleeping minutes for those video-gaming, head-banging electro-punk-ass scene stars to make the crowd forget their differences and their dry cups of booze and dance. Then, speaking of Crimewaves, it’s CK One-too-many as rowdier guests set alight their unwanted bottles of sponsor scent in the parking lot—a veritable bonfire of vanities. Who said Vice was dead?
And as for the real frosh party, it turned out to be the ETalk kickoff: the new kid on what was once the CHUM block (now CTV) opened TIFF’s red carpet festivities with a P. Diddy-hosted, Sam Ronson-spun fete on Friday night. Apparently it was televised live, but who was at home to watch? Three unfinished floors of the recently reno’d labyrinth were crammed with industry types and celebrity stalkers alike, standing elbow to implant.
Of course, the only place to breathe was the smoking patio. We joined a gaggle of girls stealing cigarettes from slender, mustached man in a brown three-piece-suit. The gentleman, so obviously not from here, turned out to be a Parisian by way of Montreal. Did you know Montreal has the oldest film festival in Canada? Yeah, well, we have Lindsay Lohan. Looking over the smoking crowd to the third floor window, we spied her unmistakable mane, catching flashes of light as she smoked (yes, indoors—eat your heart out, Sean Penn!) and texted away. Suddenly, everyone around us (and, okay, us too) started doing the same. And when DJ Sam leaned over and left one on LiLo’s lips? It was like an episode of Gossip Girl, but without the good clothes.
Those, thankfully, were to be found in the basement of Holt Renfrew. The luxury bastion’s annual soiree was in honour of John Varvatos for Converse, but we doubt you could have snuck in wearing Chucks; even the defiantly un-fancy Miss Thunderheist (playing sidekick to k-Os) put on stilettos with her Cheap Mondays and American Apparel tank. Sophia Bush—an actress so un-actressy that she had to introduce herself in full before we blurted, “oh, you’re kind of famous!”—shimmered in lilac Leger; the mop-headed MGMT boys carried around plush dogs as accessories (don’t give Paris any ideas, please); and Jeremy Piven was… short.
Late, late, later Friday night, at the Drake, Holts holdouts (a few fashion folk, assorted industry types and their hangers-on, and a painfully eccentric theatre director wearing bunny ears, “the better to hear you with,” he deadpanned) lounged to beats by DJ-slash-Crystal-Castles-manager Mikey Apples. At ten minutes to four a.m. last call, he put on “Crimewave,” and tired stilettos found their groove again.
Saturday night, and the air reheated at CTV headquarters, home to the post-screening party for Blindness. It was chaos, we hear, and we can hear because we weren’t there: apparently, the third-floor soiree was so loud, attendees joked the film could be renamed Deafness.
By Sunday, partygoers were so tired that at W Studio’s afterparty for Zach and Miri Make a Porno (Kevin Smith’s new, likely literal, suckfest), studio giant Harvey Weinstein strayed from the VIP fishbowl and walked among them practically unnoticed. Other big-name attendees included Elizabeth Banks, Edward Norton, a perpetually pissed-off Adrian Brody, and that Adam guy from the Beastie Boys, wearing a backpack and skate shoes (yes, we get it, you don’t care; maybe we don’t either). Still, as far as we’re concerned, the hottest action on the red carpet was when a bag of coke was dropped on it by an unidentified guest.
As W wound down, cabs headed to (of all places!) Easy and the Fifth for a party in honour of partying. Shinan Govani was poking around the VIP section, but the only boldface names we saw were Moet and Chandon. As a dapper young photographer said, halfway through scrolling through shots of Valentino for Vanity Fair, “when champagne is free, anything is good.” The unofficial motto of TIFF? For better or for worse, we think so.