The Toronto International Film Festival has once again swept its way through our far city, leaving a trail of movie tickets, discarded business cards and party dress sequins behind.
While the focus may be on film premieres, celebrities and paparazzi poppin’ red carpet action, there is more than meets even the most super fans intense gaze. Below the surface there is a crew of power women who keep these aforementioned celebs and the media frenzy around them up to their eyeballs in delicious drinks, gastronomic goodies and sumptuous swag bags overflowing with gifts to cover 12 Christmass’s. These women have the ability to look stunning while holding a clipboard on a red carpet. They can run in heels or rock a dress and sneakers. They remember everyone’s names and make everything look pretty damn effortless despite all the hard work it takes. And without them, TIFF would just not be the same. And I thought they deserved a little recognition.
Here are just a few gals killing it at the TIFF game that I wanted to applaud as the camera flashes die down on 2019.
Meg Sethi, Alchemysts Inc – Mongrel House
Mongrel Media, the edgy and artsy film distributor that has gifted Canadian audiences with films like Call me by your name and Water Deepa Mehta throw one of the coolest parties of the film festival season. Taking place at the picturesque Campbell House museum in the heart of downtown Toronto, the party has a ethereal garden party meets upscale haunted house vibe that is truly just as awesome as it sounds, and completely in line with the Mongrel house aesthetic. Delicious food, classic beverages of every variety, some fun activations and live band karaoke all come together to make this an event to remember. But to me, the best part of Mongrel house is you never know who you might run into under those twinkle lights. Thanks to Meg Sethi, the power publicist behind the event, the guest list was curated perfectly to ensure a balance of familiar faces of every variety, be they friendly, industry or celebrity. It’s the party to be at for the first weekend of TIFF and as always, it was fabulous.
Jessica Glover, Glo Communications – Bask-It-Style Gifting Lounge
One of the best parts of the Film Festival is, of course, the gifting lounges. If an actor has an IMDB credit and a savvy agent or publicist, they can easily collect enough swag to last until the next festival and cover all their holiday gifting at the same time. Generally, lowly media folks like myself don’t get that kind of star treatment, until one publicist decided to change that. Jessica Glover is the founder of Glo Communications and its Bask-It-Style TIFF gifting lounge, catering to media folks who are doing just as much running around the festival as the talent, but usually behind the cameras instead of in front of them. Featuring brands like DK Books, Michael Hill, Amber and Ash and more, this lounge is a great way for media to form new brand relationships and get inspired ahead of the fall and holiday season, while they’re running around working on TIFF content now.
Naomi Snieckus, Firecracker Department – FD TIFF Party
One of my favorite people that I met through ADDICTED was Naomi Snieckus, actor, comedian and founder of the Firecracker Department Podcast. She was so easy to talk to, and struck the perfect tone between hilarious and earnest. Her passion for what she’d created was apparent, so it was no surprise to me to get an invitation the first ever Firecracker Department TIFF party, with multiple reasons to celebration. The Dept was expanding, now counting multiple levels of support between creative women in film, television and the adjacent arts. It’s also now a bi-coastal and bi-country initiative, with efforts and team members now split between Toronto and Los Angeles. Our hostess Naomi, clad in her multi look and wear stunning red TIFF dress, designed and styled by Matin Mithras, announced the launch of the Blaze Award as well as its well deserving recipient, Jann Arden. The party took place on a Sunday morning, the room filled with females and their fabulous allies, and good vibes flowed as easily as the mimosas.
Gail McInnes, Magnet Creative – The Salon at Stylist Box
*photos by Ryan Emberley photography
If you’ve ever wondered where stars score their stunning red carpet outfits for TIFF, look no further than the Stylist Box. Think of them as a repository of red carpet worthy duds just waiting to be donned by up and coming talent as well as world famous celebs. Every year Gail and her business partner and visual creative extraordinaire Christian Dare curate the designer selection as well as the stunning space, making the experience as stylish as the outfits the talent leave with.
This year’s cozy salon style lounge included womens’ wear designers Hilary MacMillan and Lesley Hampton, accessory line Koda Nivoli, and haircare line Niucoco. With a focus on Canadian designers, and highlight female and indigenous makers, Stylist Box works to ensure diverse representation in fashion from runway to red carpet, and that’s a philosophy I can get behind.
Mona Halem – Lady Luck Entertainment: Regulars Bar
Located in the heart of the King West club district, Regulars Bar takes advantage of its position just down the street from TIFF Bell Lightbox, to host all manner of glitterati as they mosey out of the heart of the festival. Hosting celebrities is nothing new to this bar, which has seen NBA players, hip hop and pop stars from near and far pass through its doors, in large part due to Mona Halem, one of the bar’s owners. As the driving force behind Lady Luck Entertainment, Mona has been curating lifestyle events for every baller and beat maker of note from the NBA to OVO. Over the past couple of weeks Snoop Dogg, Tainy, Sean Paul, and Kevin Garnett all hung out at Regulars, rubbing elbows with its local, well, regulars. With killer cocktails, a stacked bar and decadent late night dining, Regulars is the cool bar around the corner you’ve been looking for, making it a perfect stop any time in the course of a TIFF night out.
Honorable Mention: Penguin Random House Reading nook at the Maverick Style Lounge
As a writer and an avid reader, one thing that I loved seeing at the different gifting lounges I visited was books! Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada, books were everywhere during the festival. I especially loved seeing the many amazing books by female authors at the Maverick Style Lounge, located in the festival hub on King street. There I scored books from by Michelle Obama, Mona Awad and one of my personal favorites, Patti Smith. This partnership is a great reminder to the world of the close relationship between film and literature, and any reminder for people to read is one worth making.
If it wasn’t for the power women both behind and in front of the scenes, a giant festival like TIFF could never happen. These women and everyone else in this intersection of industries working tirelessly to make this behemoth of a festival run, are truly the ones that need to be celebrated. This cheers is for the party planners, the publicists, the stylists, the events producers and all those other rockstars without whom TIFF could not be.