TIFF organizers want the public to know it was not the festival that told volunteers to turn their faces to a wall so that they would not see Madonna pass, and that the incident is not in keeping with the TIFF spirit. One volunteer had reported Monday that eight volunteers were told to turn their backs so that Madonna could walk down a hallway unseen.
“Of course, it flies in the face of what we stand for as an organization,” Jennifer Bell, TIFF vice president of communications, said Tuesday, stressing that it was an outside security firm that had told volunteers to face the wall as Madonna left a press conference.
Madonna has since released a statement denying instructing the volunteers to face the wall. "We are still trying to figure out who and why anyone would ask the volunteers to turn away from Madonna. She has never and would never ask anyone to do that ever"
The pop star-turned-film director had been discussing her new film W.E., and had even complimented the festival's orange-shirted volunteers before the incident.
“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the festival. They keep it running on all cylinders,” Bell said. More than 2,000 volunteers do everything from opening doors, taking tickets and providing information to the public at the 10-day event, as well as staffing press conferences. It was after another press conference, while members of the media were held back in the room until actors and a director had cleared out of the area, that the volunteer confided to restless journalists that this paled in comparison to the aftermath of the Madonna press conference.
Madonna was appearing at the festival to promote her film about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and has previously drawn comparisons between herself and Wallis Simpson, another American transplanted to the U.K., suggesting she knows what it's like to be so famous one is judged only by surface appearances.