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Photo by Ryan Coleman from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Maybe you’ve heard? TIFF starts today! Spotlights! Cameras everywhere! A-listers in action! Parties every night! With free champagne! And gift bags! Also, apparently there are some movies playing somewhere!
And yet, contrary to the appearance of every front page of every Arts or Life or Style section in the city, the entire city is not hyperventilating in unison. Not every body has leapt from its Lazyboy to go break out the binoculars and breathlessly await the arrival of the Cloon. Some of you, in fact, are feeling remarkably meh about the whole thing, and would really just like to walk to the Yorkville Chapters without having to navigate dozens of screaming Anne Hathaway fans, sixteen television crews, and a caravan of limos.
And we understand, totally. But TIFF is bigger than the big movies, stars, and parties: outside the velvet ropes, scores of hipper, less hyped diversions await. Read on to find out about a few, and join us over the next ten days for more off-the-red-carpet coverage.

The Other Parties

Tonight’s big buzz event is being held by director Guy Ritchie at the Distillery’s swanker-than-it-sounds Boiler House. But wait, isn’t RocknRolla dead? Sorry, we couldn’t resist. And sure enough, lite-brite young things will be lining up in circles around Hart House for the second annual Festival Ball, thrown by VICE Magazine and CKOne. Last year’s Berkeley Church bash, starring the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, set the gold standard for local debauchery; can Juan Maclean, DJ Nasty Nav, and this year’s “super-special surprise guests” compete? Since said guests aren’t actually a surprise (unless you’re calling a rock home this month), trust us—or, ahem, untrust us—when we say they’ll be throwing down, and hard. Hart House opens its doors at 8 p.m. (Be fashionable, not late, as the guestlist is miles past capacity.) At 1 a.m., or whenever the free booze runs dry, roll over to The Social, where you can party til 4 a.m. minimum (thank you, special event liquor licensing) with Vaneska, Barbi, ViVi Diamond, and Meech.
Tomorrow is the night of a thousand red carpets, from the annual Holt Renfrew gala to Burn After Reading‘s party after screening. Avoid the gawking crowds and go underground at The Drake, where the More Proof crew hosts DJ Eli Escobar. Play tabloid star by dancing on stage, posing for party blog photos, or making out in the red velvet banquette at the back. Doors 9 p.m. $5 before midnight, $10 after.
On Sunday afternoon, eat local at the Canadian Film Centre’s annual barbecue, hosted by the venerable Norman Jewison; later, stroll by the CTV building at Queen and John to catch a glimpse of homegrown boys Dean and Dan Caten, a.k.a. DSquared, at the Fashion Television party-slash-broadcast.

The Minor Celebrity Encounters

If you’re more into Mark Ruffalo than Brad Pitt, you won’t be caught dead on King West this weekend. Instead, pitch your pup tent in the land of Oss—as in Ossington Avenue between Queen and Dundas Streets West. Home to dimly lit resto-bars, overpriced vintage, and vegan cafes, it’s a haven made in heaven for celebrities who hate the word celebrity. Drew Barrymore took Sweaty Betty’s (13 Ossington) literally last year, getting hot and heavy with boyfriend Justin Long in one of the pseudo-dive’s dusty corners. Other A-list siren calls include The Ossington, with its discreetly screened window and elegantly mellow vibe; brand-new boutique Jonathan + Olivia (49 Ossington), stocking all the Swedish denim and Parisian cashmere an it girl (or boy) could desire; and boho-chic little eateries Delux (92 Ossington) and Foxley (207 Ossington), facing off for the title of best bistro on the block.
Four blocks west on Queen, The Beaconsfield is another best bet. There, you can linger over long cigarettes on the patio while “casually” observing the ins and outs across the street at The Drake Hotel, always a magnet for artier stars.