During the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s the presence of big names that really make or break a party or premiere. A gathering is fine and well when stocked with ample celebratory energy, and a red carpet more than adequate when littered with important but largely unknown individuals. It’s the A-list names, though, that make parties soar and prompt the devoted film fans smushed behind metal crowd control barriers to shriek.
Yesterday afternoon rapper Drake, a producer of director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, announced through a statement that he would not be appearing at the premiere of the film. On any other night, certainly one dotted with big stars, this sort of last minute cancellation, though unfortunate, might have been over-looked – but last night was opening night, and to kick it off with a dose of Drake would have helped it along.
A timely film, Monsters and Men centres on the issue of police brutality, examining how a police shooting affects three Brooklyn locals (it won the special jury award for outstanding first feature at Sundance). The talented cast were, though sans Drake, still in the party spirit post-Canadian premiere at the Grey Goose-hosted party inside Soho House. Gathered around the fireplace in their festival finery on the first floor of the private club were the film’s stars Chante Adams, Kelvin Harrison Jr., John David Washington, Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas Jones. Soho House consultant and royal matchmaker Markus Anderson, and Roots co-founder Michael Budman, were also among the partygoers.
Earlier in the evening, actors Chris Pine and Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson were out after the premiere of director David Mackenzie’s latest, Outlaw King, celebrating TIFF 2018's opening film at a small party at Patria on King Street. Nearby, Weslodge was the spot where director Neil Jordan was out toasting his film Greta alongside the film’s stars, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe and French actress Isabelle Huppert, who adds this latest to the more than 120 films under her belt.
Around the corner, festival sponsor RBC debuted their TIFF party space RBC House on Duncan Street, just a stone's throw from festival HQ, with a performance by pop-rock sister band Haim. It was a musical start for what will be a full week of big names celebrating big movies, among them Asghar Farhadi’s latest, Everybody Knows, starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Launching last night too, for the fourth year, was Mongrel House inside the historic pile at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue. The exclusive space is where Mongrel Media, Canada’s top independent film distributor, will laud their flicks throughout the festival. The opening night party centred around Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, the third film collaboration of celebrated photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Mongrel Media president Hussain Amarshi and Cineplex president and CEO Ellis Jacob were among those out.