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TIFF Night 1: Where the celebs partied to kick off the film fest

If you were in the right place at the right time, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson and James Franco were just a few of the celebrities to spot as the TIFF 2016 party circuit begins. Nolan Bryant reports

Last night may have marked the official beginning of TIFF 2016, but the evening before, was the unofficial start with two happenings of note with charitable twists. Michael Fassbender was in town to kick off the packed 10 days of festival events at the TIFF Soiree, a pre-opening-night fundraiser that saw the actor sit down for a two-hour conversation moderated by TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox. "It grounds me from the feet up" Fassbender said, referring to his unusual method for getting into character, literally putting himself into their shoes. Proceeds from the talk and cocktail support TIFF-run initiatives that aim to connect under-served Toronto youth with the film community. Lisa de Wilde, who chairs TIFF's board of directors, Piers Handling, TIFF's director and CEO, Michèle Maheux, TIFF's executive director and COO, Toronto Film Commissioner Zaib Shaikh, director Deepa Mehta, Director X (the man behind the music videos for Drake's Hotline Bling and Rihanna's Work) and festival co-founder Henk Van der Kolk were among them out.

Actor Michael Fassbender and TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey speak onstage at the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Actor Michael Fassbender and TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey speak onstage at the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

GP Images/WireImage

TIFF board member and vice chair Lisa de Wilde, actor Michael Fassbender and Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF Piers Handling attend the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

TIFF board member and vice chair Lisa de Wilde, actor Michael Fassbender and Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF Piers Handling attend the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

GP Images/WireImage

Actor Michael Fassbender and TIFF's executive director & COO Michele Maheux attend the TIFF Soiree after party during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Actor Michael Fassbender and TIFF’s executive director & COO Michele Maheux attend the TIFF Soiree after party during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

GP Images/WireImage

Director Director X attends the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Director Director X attends the TIFF Soiree during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Zaib Shaikh and Deepa Mehta attend the TIFF Soiree after party during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Zaib Shaikh and Deepa Mehta attend the TIFF Soiree after party during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 7, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

GP Images/WireImage

Across the street in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, the AMBI gala was in full swing, this year in support of UforChange and the Children's Aid Society. Honorary event co-chair James Franco was on hand (albeit a bit late) and Pamela Anderson was there and pretty in pink. Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec and his new bride, Kym Johnson, headed straight for the dance floor once Earth, Wind and Fire took to the stage. Actor William Baldwin was on live-auction duty, while Martin Short played host. Out too: Paul Sorvino, Danny Glover, Donovan Bailey and Coco Rocha, Toronto fashion plate and event chair Sylvia Mantella and AMBI Pictures' Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi.

Pamela Anderson arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Pamela Anderson arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

Sylvia Mantella arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Sylvia Mantella arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

Martin Short arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Martin Short arrives at the 2nd Annual AMBI Gala at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Toronto.

Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

On official opening night, Denzel Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Chris Pratt, Luke Grimes and Ethan Hawke were among the leading men stepping out in Toronto for the premiere of director Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven. Premiering too nearby was British director Ben Wheatley and his co-writer/producer/wife Amy Jump's latest, Free Fire, the cast and producers of which descended upon Early Mercy, a bar at the intersection of King and Brant streets to celebrate its launch. Though maybe a trifle over attired for a bar on King West, the film's star, Academy Award-winner Brie Larson, fresh from the scarlet carpet, was on hand in full-length Alexander McQueen. For fellow star Armie Hammer, the film wasn't the only thing he was premiering last night: Close by was expectant wife, actor Elizabeth Chambers, and her five-or-so-months baby bump. Out too for the Free Fire do: actors Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor, Michael Smiley, Enzo Cilenti and Babou Ceesay.

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Actors Brie Larson and Armie Hammer attend the

Actors Brie Larson and Armie Hammer attend the “Free Fire” premiere screening party hosted by Bulleit at Early Mercy on September 8, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Brilliant Consulting

Actor Armie Hammer attends the

Actor Armie Hammer attends the “Free Fire” premiere screening party hosted by Bulleit at Early Mercy on September 8, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Brilliant Consulting

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