#TIFF19 Diary ...and that's a wrap

#TIFF19 Diary
...and that's a wrap

If you even browse through my blog a little, you'll see that I write about a wide variety of arts and culture - not just film. And, to be honest, I don't quite understand how other people do it, i.e., specialize in film. After just one festival within commuting distance and a handful of freelance assignments, I'm pretty exhausted. But, some of those hardy film journos were off to another festival in yet another city.

I'd rather end my relatively brief, yet intense affair with movies on a lovely and positive note, full of great memories, and not the hotel and coffee shop food that gets old really, really fast, or those lousy pillows even the best of hotels insist on using.
Heading down King Street West on TIFF Day 1
Here's some of my impressions, and good-bye TIFF...till next year or so.

Day 1 (September 5)

This is the most fun day. First, brunch with other media types, including an appearance by co-heads and artistic directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente for a few words.
TIFF co-heads and artistic directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente
Canapé trends: it seems that chicken satay, after a long hiatus, is back on the menu. Organizers try to cater to the two extremes of foodie trends - both fat/meat heavy keto fare like mini sandwiches with cured meats (yes I know they're called sliders) and some kind of veggie quinoa salad. All in all, I'd say that the vegans got the short end of the stick.
Fruit market on King Street West - an interesting addition to TIFF19
At 2pm, I have an interview with Peter Gregson. The easiest one to arrange.
Toronto Hyatt - view from the scenic elevator
Day 2 (September 6)

It's Netflix day. First, a screening of Dolemite Is My Name, the Eddie Murphy come back vehicle. I'll agree that it should put him back in the spotlight - his performance is completely riveting.

After some lunch from the Netflix buffet - they've taken over the third floor of the Shangri-La - and again, I can report both extreme meat, and extreme vegan options - I have an interview with Da'Vine Joy Randolph, who co-stars.

Day 3 (September 7)
This day has been rearranged a few times. I miss an 8:30am screening because of the stupid GO train. My afternoon interview has been rearranged because my subject has visa issues.
Hotel Shangri-La Toronto - sculpture and front entrance
But, my inteview with the director of Ready For War runs just fine at the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street. Great doc that I viewed via a screener at home.

Day 4 (September 9)

8:30am An early Press & Industry screening for The Song of Names. Interestingly, people lined up at the door only want to speak to Americans.

10:40am Interview with Ina Weisse and Nina Hoss, director and star of The Audition. It's an an interesting place called Coffee, Oysters, Champagne on King Street West. For the interview, I go behind the bar, down a dimly lit hallway, and into a cavernous basement...to another bar.
Coffee, Oysters, Champagne - Toronto

In between: I visit the AT&T VIP Lounge at the Hotel Le Germaine for some delicious mac and cheese...and a vegan salad. And fruit, along with a celebrity sighting or two.
Hotel Le Germain, Toronto - lobby

Celeb sighting outside Le Germain Hotel

2:30pm The interview with director Francois Girard is late, and a mere 10 minutes, but I think I've got enough before springing for a panicked taxi ride through the rush hour traffic to my next screening.
Hotel Le Germain - lobby

Juan Minijin, Jonathan Pryce, Fernando Mereilles repping The Two Popes at the AT&T Loung TIFF 2019
3:00pm A must-see screening - the North American premiere of Atlantics by Mati Diop at Ryerson theatre.
Red carpet at the TIFF Bell Lightbox - September 2019

Day 5 (September 10)

11am - Or, it's supposed to be 11am, but more like 11:17am by the time Mati Diop makes our interview in the Netflix Shangri-La enclave. She begins by quizzing me on what I thought about the film, and seems disappointed in my lack of effusive enthusiasm. I think she just doesn't know me well enough to judge.
Hotel Shangri La Toronto - lobby
11:40am - My ten-minutes-late interview with Abba Makama, director of The Lost Okoroshi and a voice of the new Nollywood of art films.
TIFF 19 celebrity sighting - Rosario Dawson

Day 6 (September 12)
My long awaited interview with Ugandan gonzo action auteur Nabwana I.G.G. and his VJay Emmie. Their visas were delayed, then their passports sent to the wrong country, but he's here at last to see his film on a big screen for the first time. The flick, Crazy World, will play the last two nights of the festival for its Midnight Madness series.
Toronto - King Street from the media room

Day 7 (September 14)
My last screening, with a Q&A with director Chinonye Chukwu and star Alfre Woodard.
Director Chinonye Chukwu and star Alfre Woodard of 'Clemency'

Some Time Later...
Stories filed.
TIFF swag

This, too, is Toronto

TIFF Bell Lightbox

Toronto from above