TIFF Day 3: Pharrell in the Streets, Popcorn in the Sheets

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TIFF Day 3: Pharrell in the Streets, Popcorn in the Sheets

What to look out for on day three of the festival.

Photo by Harvey K from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Photo by Harvey K from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.


The first Saturday of TIFF is always hectic and this year is no exception, with world premieres of major titles, red carpet crushes, and big names performing in the Festival Street district. You can smell the excitement (and the #popcorn) in the air.

What Were People Talking About Yesterday?

The Toronto Star reported that the broken escalators at the Scotiabank Theatre are still getting plenty of buzz from attendees. No word yet on when the repairs will be complete (the down escalator is currently working) but it highlights the accessibility challenges a busy event must contend with.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting last night’s screenings of The Birth Of A Nation at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres received standing ovations. This must comes as a relief to the film’s studio and TIFF’s organizers, who may have anticipated some heckling or tough questions from the audience due to the director’s 1999 rape charges, for which he was acquitted. by contrast, Variety reports that the premiere of Oliver Stone’s Snowden was met with a relatively cool reception from the Roy Thomson Hall audience.

On The (Festival) Street Where You Live

Road closures on downtown arterial roads may be frustrating to drivers and #TransitTwitter but it is a rare pleasure to be able to walk down the middle of a pedestrianized King Street between Peter and University. It has been transformed into a promenade that really makes the zone feel like a huge public block party, with slightly aggressive branding stations at points all along the way (including VR demonstration pods courtesy of Bell, food trucks, food tasting stations and beauty lounges, and these attractions usually have small lineups). There is also a family zone with activities for kids until 6 p.m. through Sunday. But it should be noted that foot traffic can be really heavy in the area around Metro Centre and the Princess of Wales Theatre, as the actual roadway is often blocked off to accommodate the red carpet arrivals, squeezing crowds onto the south sidewalk in both directions. Yesterday hundreds of star-watchers were gathered hours ahead of the arrival of Leonardo DiCaprio, making his TIFF debut for the world premiere of Before The Flood, his National Geographic documentary highlighting the dangers of climate change.

Festival Street will be particularly busy at 4 p.m. today for an “exclusive, TIFF Members-only” preview of footage from the upcoming drama Hidden Figures (the film itself will be released in early January), including a Q-and-A with the stars (including Taraji P Henson and the mighty Janelle Monae) followed by a concert with Pharrell Williams previewing music from the film. All this activity closes down on Sunday night with crews working until dawn opening the street back up for Monday’s rush hour.

What’s Going On Today At TIFF?

The visionary director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Days of Heaven) has made his first documentary Voyage of Time, which premieres today at the Princess of Wales theatre (a shorter alternate cut of the film will be screening in the IMAX format at Scotiabank during TIFF). It is about a very big subject: the history of the universe, and Malick has been working on it for several years, though as one of the most reclusive filmmakers ever, he is not expected to attend.

Another highly-anticipated premiere is Moonlight, the new film by Barry Jenkins, which chronicles the journey from childhood to adulthood of a young black man in his dangerous south Florida neighbourhood who is also navigating the choppy waters of his own sexuality. The compelling trailer and the advance raves from leading Film Twitter™ luminaries marks this as an early awards-season favourite, and this is likely a film worth rushing tonight; there’s also an extended post-screening discussion indicated in the festival schedule.

Director Rebecca Zlotowski’s Planetarium co-stars Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp (the daughter of Mortdecai‘s Johnny Depp, and Vanessa Paradis) as two sisters making a living as travelling supernatural mediums who arrive in 1930s Paris and get mixed up with a strange film producer planning an ambitious new project. The trailer promises a sumptuous, glamourous visual experience, and is tonight’s late gala screening at Roy Thomson Hall.

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