As the second biggest film festival in the world (last year 372 films from 72 countries were screened), the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been known to launch many a movie onto the global stage. This year is no exception with a stellar line-up of films tipped for the top. The actor to watch this year is the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. He opened the festival in Bill Condons much talked about film The Fifth Estate (based on the events of Julian Assange) and will be also be starring in two other hotly anticipated movies: August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in James Francos Child of God, OutKasts André Benjamin becomes Jimi Hendrix in All is By My Side and Scarlett Johansson plays an alien seductress in Under the Skin. The centre for the festival moved in 2010 to the sleek TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 3X5; +1 416-968-3456; tiff.net/about/tiffbelllightbox), which stands five-storeys high on the corner of King and John Street and has five public cinemas, two galleries, a bistro, a restaurant and a lounge.
Its not the only home for the programming; throughout the ten days showings will be dotted around town at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 3M6; +1 416-368-5600; cineplex.com/Theatres/TheatreDetails/Scotiabank-Theatre-Toronto.aspx), the Princess of Wales (300 King Street, Toronto, ON, M5V 1J2; +1 416-872-1212; toronto-theatre.com/theaters/princess-of-wales-theatre/theater.php), the Elgin (189 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M5B 1M4; +1 416-314-2901; heritagetrust.on.ca/ewg), AMC Yonge and Dundas (10 Dundas Street East, corner of Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, ON, M5B 2G9; +1 416 977-9262; amcyongedundas.com) and the Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street, Toronto, ON, M5J 2H5; +1 416-593-4828; roythomson.com) to name but a few.
If you havent got your fill of films during the day Midnight Madness (locations across town; tiffmidnightmadness.blogspot.co.uk) screens a different horror movie every night at 12am; check out The Station on Friday 13th September, which discovers biological monstrosities in the German Alps, it looks terrifying.
With the A-list come the parties, and also an extension of the liquor license, with over 65 places opening up until 4am for the duration of the festival. The 10, 000 square foot Soho House Toronto (192 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, ON,
M5H 0A4; +1 416-599-7646; sohohousetoronto.com) will be hosting a slew of festivities sponsored by Grey Goose, who have created a new cocktail; the Torontini. Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliff are all rumoured to have parties here. Filthy Gorgeous (a documentary about the founder of Penthouse magazine) will be holding its cast after-party at Cube (314 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 2A2; +1 416 263-0330; cubetoronto.com).
Although, the place to be and be seen this year is the warehouse-style Cocktail Parlor at multi-level bar Storys (11 Duncan Street, Toronto, ON, M5H 3G6;+1 416-367-5151; storysbuilding.com), while the opening weekend was packed with if-your-names-not-down-youre-not-coming-in style parties, itll be open to the public later on in the festival so you can check out Elan Marks well-shaken cocktails. The team at ICON Legacy Hospitality, who are behind Storys, are also the brainchild of several other TIFF hotspots, Patria (480 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 1L7
+1 416-367-0505; patriatoronto.com) that has beer designed by Ferran Adrià of El Bulli, and chic two-story saloon Weslodge (480 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 1L7; +1 416-367-0505; weslodge.com).
Each has been known to host their fair share of exclusive film premieres. The sleek new Four Seasons (60 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4W 0A4; +1 416-964-0411; fourseasons.com) in Yorkville will be seeing its first film festival after it opened in October last year and Daniel Bouluds dbar is the perfect place to sip Mixologist Albert Kirbys cocktails while people watching from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The self-appointed hot bed of culture, the trendy Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1J3; +1 416-531-5042; thedrakehotel.ca), will be hosting parties til 4am, live music and plenty of dancing.
The minute you step through the door at family run Italian restaurant Sotto Sotto (116 Avenue Road, Toronto, ON, M5R 2H4; +1 416-962-0011; sottosotto.ca), youll see the hundreds of photographs of the rich and famous who have dined here at one time or other, Nicolas Cage, Al Pacino and Natalie Portman to name a few. At the heart of the action is the Lightboxs latest addition, restaurant, Luma (350 King Street West, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto, ON, M5V 3X; +1 647-288-4715; oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx), while its sister restaurant Jump (18 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON, M5L 1L5; +1 416-363-3400; oliverbonacini.com/jump.aspx) is offering a £22 Dine and Design ticket package, where you can get a voucher towards dinner and entry to the Christian Louboutin exhibition (on until September 15th) at the Design Exchange Museum (234 Bay Street, Toronto, ON, M5H 2T4; +1 416-363-6121; dx.org) in Canadas old Stock Exchange building. Sushi-fans can ogle movie stars over their menus at either of the Blowfish restaurants (King and Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON, M5V 1M7 or Bay and Adelaide Street, Toronto, ON, M5H 2R2; both +1 416-860-0606; blowfishrestaurant.com); Sofia Coppola had her launch party for Lost in Translation there. Noodle bar Momofuku (190 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5H 0A3; +1 647-253-8000; momofuku.com) at the Shangri-La Hotel is likely to see the odd celeb refuelling during their busy schedule and for those heading to the Distillery District, Mexican joint El Catrin (18 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON, M5A 3C4; +1 416-203-2121; elcatrin.ca) is a safe bet. Sigourney Weaver has strolled through the doors at the Rosewater Supper Club (19 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON, M5C 2R1; +1 416-214-5888; rosewaterroom.com), while Torontos latest bar and restaurant Chase (10 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON, M5H 1Y4; +1 647-348-7000; thechasetoronto.com) will be high on the hangout hot list this year.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from now until Sunday 15th September. For the full schedule and film listings visit http://tiff.net