Just Mercy? More like have mercy!
Toronto was jam packed (just like my schedule!) last night. Three heavy hitting films premiered: Just Mercy , starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx; The Friend, starring Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel; and Blackbird, starring Susan Sarandon, Rainn Wilson and Sam Neill. On top of this, Canadian sweetheart and heartthrob Shawn Mendes was also in town performing a sold out show where – surprise! – Camila Cabello made a cameo.
Traffic was at a standstill and fans filled the streets of the city, reminiscent of that time the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship a few months back. Toronto is so hot right now and TIFF as we know it hath arrived. I got in to all the parties celebrating the aforementioned films and their stars… and then some.
And stars they are, as Susan proved by showing up at the Nordstrom Supper Suite at MARBL Restaurant in a pair of shades and a straight up power suit as she met up with fellow cast members. Once inside, she took off her sunglasses and cozied up in the centre of an intimate booth for a quick bite before heading off to her world premiere.
When I asked her who she was wearing, she told me it was an old suit of hers and legit had a friend check actually check the label of her jacket for me, shimmying her body so he could read the label. “Cavalli,” she told me as I smiled, appreciating the little stars-they’re-just-like-us moment. Usually it’s me at a store trying to figure out my size. Same same, but different.
Fans waited outside to catch a glimpse of the iconic star before she headed off for her premiere (shades back on, of course) and I’ll tell you this: Woman knows how to make an exit, just as she made an entrance.
I dipped out just after her and headed a hop, skip and jump away over to KOST, the picturesque restaurant that sits atop the Bisha Hotel and offers show stopping views, of the city. Speaking of views, I have a Drake-related tidbit a bit later on, which makes me think of music and brings me right back to where I left off, at KOST for the world premiere afterparty for The Friend, hosted by Diageo World Class, where – my God – the music was epic.
I’m pretty sure I spent most the party putting down my flute so I could shazam each and every tune. As soon as StokeStheMC – the Toronto based DJ at the party – played some Led Zeppelin, followed by Guns N’ Roses, and Van Morrison, I was on to him. These events typically don’t lend themselves to rock tunes, and the entire vibe of the room changed for the better with him spinning.
When I asked if he was given any guidance on what type of music to play, he told me how he curated the playlist after doing a ton of research. He watched past interviews with Jason and Dakota to find out their favourite songs. He also took the premise of the movie into consideration.
“I learned that ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison is one of Jason’s favourite songs,” he told me.
When I ran into Jason out on the patio later that evening and asked if he noticed the DJ was playing tunes for the cast he said, deadpan, “He played Van Morrison for me.”
Dakota was wearing the same gown she wore to the premiere and set up shop at a reserved table with her name on it, in front of a feast of food – which I didn’t see her touch – while she basked in the afterglow of her film. Her bodyguard was on high alert. Sadly, there was no Chris Martin in sight (trust me, I looked).
Before running out to the next fete, I ran into Greta Constantine’s Kirk Fitzpatrick and the gents behind DSQUARED. Sadly no one was dancing, but that changed once I arrived at the other end of the city an hour later at the Fermenting Cellar, which played backdrop to the premiere after party for Just Mercy. The vibe here was much more lively and heavy hitters Jamie and Michael were shaking hands, taking selfies and dancing about.
The DJ put on Drake’s “In My Feelings” just after I ran into his long-time collaborator, Director X. Brie was also in attendance, though I never saw her, since she left quite early, and I was told she didn’t even pose for a photo.
Speaking of which, the Audi-hosted event went on and on and on. Whatever Jamie is having, sign me up. The last thing I thought I’d see this TIFF was the notoriously private actor so in his element and actually basking in the feelgood energy that a Friday night on festival weekend in Toronto has to offer. I noted he came sans date, so sadly nothing to report here on whether he and Katie Holmes are actually done, or if he’s seeing singer Sela Vave.
When I peaced out, he and Michael were enjoying the tunes and event, and I headed to Soho House to see what was going, but as they say: What happens at Soho House stays at Soho House.
Saturday is the most buzzworthy and notable night of the entire fest, and I’ll be on call reporting up to the minute tidbits of information from inside the most exclusive parties. This includes the premiere afterparty for Hustlers and the hottest ticket in town, the Hollywood Foreign Press party at Four Seasons Hotel. Follow along with the hashtag #jensTIFFbits and on Hello! Canada’s Twitter.