Photos & Article: Scott Albert
I woke up with an avalanche of news stories breathlessly announcing the films premiering at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Which led to a little confusion over my morning Moka pot of coffee, because I was looking forward to being your humble Empire correspondent at the afternoon’s media announcement. Did I miss it? Did I get the date wrong? What day was it?
Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, your brave and dutiful correspondent ventured to the Fairmont Hotel at the appointed time and was whisked through the media gate into the throng of people, slowly realizing that I could really use a haircut. The event had a dedicated cocktail schedule, almost an hour in the middle of the day, but strangely they didn’t have any cocktails on offer. Yet here I was, juggling a red wine (Ontario, but allowances must be made) and the media folder (in English and French) with the dawning understanding that the crowd was masking three separate food stations. My plan to arrive fashionably late (a strategic hold-over from attending TIFF events where I was decidedly not on the list) now seemed foolish in the face of the spread on offer. An entire table covered with blocks of cheese, segregated into smoked and non-smoked. Two chefs frantically assembling roast pork, open-face sandwich-anapes. And an a-la-minute smores stand. Having the same number of hands as you, dear reader, the press package was quickly shed in the face of this mid-day challenge.
I grabbed some cheese and introduced myself, shaggy haired and all, to the happy, well coifed attendees. I had a hard time finding other media, it seemed that most at the gathering were summoned from far flung corners of the TIFF empire and were having a great time. “Will you be going to the festival,” a new friend asked? I put some cheese on a slice of bread, tried to make my hair look more like normal-human-being-type hair and answered, “My life is very unpredictable.” I waited for more small talk. There was none.
And suddenly, as if signaled from on high, two things happened at once. The camera ops climbed to their battle stations on the raised platform and the bars stopped serving.
The announcement had begun.
The crowd was certainly enthusiastic. Whooping and cheering came from various corners of the room for each name, concentrated and isolated. Knowing whispers from those closer by, “Oh, I love her,” people were constantly assured. I ate three of the pork canapes, and thought of the morning’s articles, the big folder I had been handed and the deep tautological questions about the fundamental nature of an announcement. And the smores, which I had yet to try.
When the stream of film names had trickled to a halt, there was a rush to the back of the room for a 2018 class picture of the filmmakers. Smores time for your plebian correspondent. The smores chef had that thousand-yard stare of Vietnam war photos. But the spiced hot cocoa and one more glass of wine passed the time while I watched the crowd of film makers gather before the many, many cameras.
As the crowd thinned and the bars closed a second and final time, your satisfied correspondent rescued his press package from its hidden spot, fully intending to include in my promised profile of the event the many spectacular and important films that TIFF will be bringing you this fall. I ventured out into the sunlight, just slightly day drunk.
For full press release on 2018 Canadian features, please click HERE