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TIFF Is Here: Are You Ready?

By: Anne T. Donahue

As of this second, TIFF 2019 is underway. And with it comes the promise of celebrities, movies, and people walking very slowly down King St., looking at their phones (even more so than usual). So to this I say: are you ready? Are you mentally and emotionally prepared? Do you have what it takes to conquer the festival and soak up as much cultural clout as you possibly can?

You will when you’re done reading this guide. Because I care about you, and I want you to hold your own when you inevitably bump into and befriend Brad Pitt.

ALWAYS: Hold onto your phone
Thanks to multiple viewings of Veep, I have learned that important people hold their phones. They clutch them. They look down at them. They frown in their general direction, as if receiving news so important, the rest of us couldn’t possibly understand. And now you must do the same. Nobody knows you. Nobody knows what mysteries your phone could hold. Nobody knows what correspondence you could be on the receiving end of, perhaps from a movie star or more realistically, the sender of a mailing list you never signed up for.

But it doesn’t matter. You hold onto that phone, and you clutch it accordingly. You pepper every strange silence by opening your email and whispering, “What?!” to yourself, as if you’ve been bombarded with a task. Then, when it seems like Jennifer Lopez will never notice you in line for the bathroom, you interrupt any nearby conversation and say, “Speaking of which” while waving your phone in the air. Now you seem busy and important. More so than J Lo, who’s still confused as to why you’re in her hotel room.

ALWAYS: Wear your accreditation
“Hey, are you a celebrity?” This is what you will be asked repeatedly when being a person, 42 blocks away from any TIFF event, still wearing your lanyard. To which you will respond with a polite smile and nod, not confirming nor denying the claims brought against you. Because a celebrity would never say “Yes, I am Tom Hanks.” And they would absolutely carry around their complimentary tote bag around while nursing a Starbucks. It doesn’t matter that you asked the question of yourself, to yourself, while looking deep into an elevator mirror. Today you are a celebrity. Your accreditation means you can walk with purpose.

ALWAYS: Go to a TIFF party
Always. Under every circumstance. Will they be the ones a famous person is at? Likely not, because those are hard to get into and then when you doget into them, said celebrity is likely hanging out with their friends because why would they walk around just introducing themselves to strangers? (I don’t know. But I thought that was what happened until like, three years ago, and I was proven very, very wrong.) But other parties, graced by the TIFF title, won’t be a bad time. I mean, they’re parties. How bad can they be? What else are you doing? At some point, you will see tiny foods and you will get to eat them. Maybe you can even enjoy a beverage. I don’t know and I can’t say for sure.

Because I don’t really like those kind of parties. Last night, I showed up at something dressed like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mailwith a canvas tote and everybody else was wearing heels and very nice ensembles. So I mean, they’re really just not my jam, and I’d rather go to a restaurant with my best friends. But you’re not me. And you’re at TIFF. And you’ll likely have figured out the dress code, and that you can sustain yourself entirely on complimentary food and drink and have me to thank for reminding you of this.

ALWAYS: Make eye contact with a famous and roll your eyes like you’re in on the same joke
This works only if you do not know each other, and you are standing alone, suggesting that whoever said celebrity is talking to might be the worst. This will confuse them and give you a power that will last only for as long as you’re both in attendance. “What do they know?” said celebrity will think, worried that they’re throwing their career away by speaking to someone who should be enemy. Then you will be mysterious, planting the seed of, “Wait? Who was that? What was that about?” for minutes to come.

Just don’t do it if you see them talking to me. I mean, I am the worst, but no famous person needs to know that. (Yet.)

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