TIFF seduces with stars and nightlife


Juliette Lewis signs autographs on the red carpet prior to the premiere of “August: Osage County” at Roy Thomson Hall during TIFF 2013. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — “The Grand Seduction” has been set in Quebec and Newfoundland, and actor Brendan Gleeson says Ontario could have its own take on the movie, such is the uniqueness of Canada’s provinces. Gleeson, an Irish actor known for roles in “In Bruges” and “Braveheart,” took to the stage following the second TIFF screening of “The Grand Seduction” on Tuesday morning and noted the regional differences he’s discovered about Canada.

“I really feel you could have a version of this film set in Ontario. There is a way of life in Newfoundland that is truly different than other places,” Gleeson said after the showing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre.

Director Don McKellar’s “The Grand Seduction” was filmed in the Bonavista Peninsula, named the No. 2 Place to Visit in Canada for 2013 by Vacay.ca. Gleeson said he had heard great things about Newfoundland before he arrived but the experience was “1,700 times better than I imagined.” The story concerns a rural outport community called Tickle Head that has endured an economic depression since the federal government instituted a ban on cod fishing in 1992. [See a Vacay.ca-produced video of the Rugged Beauty Boat Tour, which focuses on people who inspired the movie.]

In the film, Gleeson plays the self-appointed mayor of Tickle Head who aims to lure a factory to the harbour community. Having a resident doctor is one of the prerequisites for landing the plant, so Gleeson and his fellow baymen plot to convince a cocaine-addicted plastic surgeon played by Taylor Kitsch (“John Carter”) to take the job.

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While the script has some flaws, the movie is terrifically funny, filled with one liners expertly delivered by the likes of Gleeson and Gordon Pinsent. It’s also a showcase of the beauty, lifestyle, and unmatched charm of the Bonavista Peninsula, located 280 kilometres (174 miles) northwest of St. John’s. The village of New Bonaventure is the main setting for the film. The bar that was created for the movie remains standing by the shore and last week, in honour of the movie, it opened to the public as a real watering hole.

“I wished we could have shown this film to the people of Bonavista first,” McKellar told the audience at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It is such a special place.”

He also noted the distinctiveness of the region compared to other parts of the nation. “The Grand Seduction,” based on a 2003 Quebec film directed by Jean-Francois Pouliot, is expected to be released in theatres later this year.

“The Fifth Estate” and Other TIFF Highlights

Despite notable no-shows (Meryl Streep), celebrities have been out in force in Toronto since TIFF’s 38th annual edition started on Thursday. George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Brad Pitt are among the stars visiting the city for the film festival that has become known as a harbinger of the Academy Awards. The opening gala featured “The Fifth Estate,” the film starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It has received mixed reviews, but I found it enthralling and richly intelligent. Director Bill Condon has taken a complicated story and made it accessible for the masses while also putting a great deal of responsibility on the viewer. Do you like Julian Assange? Are tyrants and overreaching governments doomed because of his actions? Or did he selfishly put samaritans at risk? Who controls information and the Internet? Who should control it? Who is watching you? How free are we?

Big questions, the answers to which will go a long way to defining the future of our society. TIFF honoured “The Fifth Estate” with the coveted opening-night gala spot because of the important nature of its content. It is riveting entertainment that merits the attention TIFF organizers have bestowed upon it.

While reviewers haven’t been unanimously euphoric over “The Fifth Estate,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” or “August: Osage County,” they have heaped praise on “12 Years a Slave” — a film produced by Pitt and directed by Steve McQueen. Pitt plays a Canadian abolitionist in Louisiana who helps lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor find freedom.

Hot Spots for TIFF Parties

The Liberty Entertainment Group has been hosting numerous parties at its posh venues in the city. Among the red-carpet affairs have been the gala parties at C Lounge for “Hateship, Loveship” and the Goodnight/Gaansevort soiree, and the “Only Lovers Left Alive” bash that featured a performance by the Sadies at the Courthouse.


More About TIFF 2013

Dates: September 5-15, 2013
Tickets: Tickets are released daily for single showings. Regular shows cost $23.50 while red-carpet galas cost $45. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 1-888-599-8433 (toll free). Rush Line tickets are also available. If you hold “rush” tickets, you stand in line for an hour or more hoping to get into the film of your choice. If there are seats left after all ticket and pass holders enter, then those in the Rush Line are also let into the theatre.
Theatres: The films take place at several theatres around the city’s downtown, with the Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West, see map below) serving as the headquarters.


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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016.

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