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Day 3: Ben Affleck poses on the red carpet at the gala for the movie “Argo”. (cp)
Day 3: Ben Affleck poses on the red carpet at the gala for the movie “Argo”. (cp)

TIFF 2012

127 Hours at TIFF: An incredible true story of survival Add to ...

11 p.m.: Various parties. There is Asian-spiced fish. There are signature tequila cocktails. Tim Robbins lopes by. I black out again.

SEPTEMBER 9

9 a.m. to 4:25 p.m.: Interviews: Greg Kinnear is nice. Lily Collins is wearing eight-inch stilettos even though she has a foot injury. Dennis Quaid smokes an electronic cigarette. Robert Redford doesn’t look young anymore, but he still has 40 pounds of hair. Ewan McGregor makes coffee from the single-serve machines that are now ubiquitous in posh hotel rooms. Hugh Laurie will always remember the orchids on the island where they filmed Mr. Pip. Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski needed 500 index cards to keep track of all the scenes in Cloud Atlas. Hugo Weaving has a beard.

5 p.m.: I stumble out of the elevator at the Shangri-La Hotel into the lobby. Waiters in exotic garb serve soigné customers, including Deepa Mehta, Salman Rushdie and friends, who are wearing brilliantly colored saris for the premiere of Midnight’s Children, her film of his book. I marvel at the flawless flocking instincts of the hip: How do these people know to be here, when this hotel barely existed a week ago? Construction workers are still finishing the façade, for heaven’s sake. Outside, the British actor Jim Sturgess sits alone having a smoke.

SEPTEMBER 10

10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.: Interviews. John Hawkes’s first acting role was Pigpen in a grade-school production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Helen Hunt is writing a screenplay. Winona Ryder utters a single sentence that lasts for 15 minutes. Michael Shannon pinches the skin of his forearms as he talks. Chris Evans, who lives in Boston, calls L.A. “the heartbeat of b.s., because of all the b.s. it pumps into the world.”

3 p.m.: Ray Liotta interview. By this point I am so dehydrated that I have resorted to drinking from random water bottles left behind in interview rooms (seriously). But even in my weakened condition, I recognize that I have a rare moment of spontaneous, honest conversation with Liotta. We barely mention his movie, The Iceman. Instead, he talks about being adopted, and how he sought out his birth mother when he was 43; how, though he empathized with her completely, meeting her made him “so glad” he was adopted; and how, when he told that to a friend who’d just adopted a child, the friend burst into tears. It was not a conversation I’d ever imagined having with Liotta – or with anyone this week.

4:30 p.m.: I moderate the press conference for The Iceman. A journo asks a rude question about what happened to Winona Ryder’s career. She answers with aplomb. He raises his hand to ask another question, and keeps it raised. Finally I have to call on him. He asks Ryder another rude question. “Let me take this one,” Liotta growls menacingly. The crowd applauds.

9 p.m. to 1 a.m.: More parties. I eat a mini grilled-cheese sandwich. I eat a mini fish fritter. I am served a mini squash-and-phyllo square that has a mini fork stuck in it. My friend Teri takes a picture of the mini fork, then tweets it, #nowonderImhungry. Later, at a different party, a fresh-faced server hands me a piece of line-caught tuna and asks, “Do you support sustainable seafood?” Delirious, I reply, “I so do!” Later still, The Iceman cast walks the red carpet outside another club. Except for Liotta. He came in the back way, and is already on a sofa with a drink, surrounded by women with long hair and short skirts.

SEPTEMBER 11

10:30 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.: Interviews. When Thomas Vinterberg, director of The Hunt, was growing up in 1970s Copenhagen, he lived in a commune with 13 other children and adults, all of whom frequently hung out naked. Marisa Tomei can’t stop raking her hands through her hair. Joshua Jackson has an impressive grasp of the situation in Syria. Alexander Siddig’s eyes are an ethereal hazel. Catherine Keener is now blond. Christopher Walken sits in a chair, and for the next 15 minutes, holds his body in the shape of that chair. His arms lie on its arms. His legs sit in front of its legs. He regards me calmly. I miss Ray Liotta.

7 p.m.: Just when I think I may have to saw off my head to free myself, the boulder simply … rolls away, back to New York and L.A. from whence it came. At midnight, Paul Dano, Jason Bateman, Abbie Cornish and others stroll through the In Style party looking glam, and TIFF will go on for five more days. But everyone can feel it: The promotional storm has dispersed. We are released.

SEPTEMBER 12

Daylight: I walk into the canyon, call out, “Hello?” and hear only my echo. I smile, and go to a movie.

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