Alright guys, let's all agree once and for all: the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a cool time. One minute you're going to the movies, and the next you're going to the movies …with celebrities. For 10 days in September, stars are literally just like us (in that they will be sitting in a movie theatre watching a film). You'll see them at your favourite stores, you might sit next to them at a restaurant, and at the premieres? One might even be in the row near you. This is cool and we know this. But we also need to know (and remember) that — ugh, adult alert — we need to attend TIFF like grown-ups. And this is coming from somebody who once drove to Toronto when she was 19 to walk around Yorkville just to see if Jimmy Fallon was there. (He wasn't — mostly because he wasn't promoting any movies and had no need to be in Toronto.) So let's do this together: it's time to attend TIFF like the grown-ass humans we are.
1. Rule #1: Stars are literally just like us
They use baskets! (Have you seen that Us Weekly edition?) They shop for groceries! (No really — it's in an actual issue!) They go to work — a.k.a TIFF. TIFF is just part of the grind for these guys, so while we may recognize them from repeated viewings of The Devil Wears Prada (MERYL, I LOVE YOU), they are just human beings who are doing their job. Granted, their job is awesome, but it is just that: work. Like you got up and did your job, TIFF attendees did the exact same thing. They get up in the morning, and they eat breakfast, and they dress up, and act, and then they go home. Let's keep that in mind so we can lessen the hysteria — and again, I say this as someone who was 17 and told Avril Lavigne she was "an inspiration to women everywhere" when I met her at the MMVAs in 2002. (What's worse is that we both knew I wasn't telling the truth.)
2. Rule #2: But remember — "be cool"
Remember in Almost Famous when William just loses it and starts saying goodbye to everybody backstage after he goes to the first Stillwater show? Of course you do, because that scene is a gift from above. Then Penny Lane says, "Hey, be cool" and it's the perfect phrase. So pretend Penny Lane is right next to you/me/all of us if and when we see someone we respect and admire, and we can just "be cool." We can say "Hey, I like your work," we can ask for a picture, but as soon as we get into sneaky photo territory, things are weird. And again, I say this as someone who once saw Sandra Oh at The Drake about five years ago and kept trying to make eye contact with her while she ate breakfast. (So I promise you all of you are already cooler than me.)
3. Rule #3: TIFF is about movies
I KNOW, I am the fun police, who has come to take all the fun away. But it's true. Yes, there are parties and free drinks and "swag," but ultimately, TIFF is about fil-im. Which is terrific! We get movies before all the others get movies, and frankly, that in itself is reason to freak out. Now you can see August: Asage County before the rest of the world does. You can quote from The Fifth Estate before anyone else does (or will — though I feel like that movie might not be exactly quotable). You can take advantage of new movies like the movie aficionados you are! You can one-up your fancy film friends once and for all. And if that's not what TIFF is about, I don't know what is.
3. b) That being said, give Twitter a break sometimes
You might miss what's actually going on, otherwise! (I know, I sound like a grandmother. But once I walked into somebody's arm when I was texting and my eye didn't stop watering for two hours.)
4. Rule #4: You don't HAVE to go to the parties
Can I be honest? The idea of attending some huge get-in-line event full of free drinks and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds makes me feel anxious and stressed. So imagine my luck when I realized you don't have to attend TIFF events, and you don't even have to be a part of it at all! I know with our cultural fear of missing out (#FOMO), the last thing you think you want is to stay at home and watch The West Wing while eating popcorn out of a bad, and if you really do want to party it up, walk that red carpet like the socialite you are. But if you're like me, OWN THAT POPCORN LIKE THE SELF-AWARE INTROVERT YOU ARE AS WELL. TIFF is a great event, but it's not manditory — this isn't high school. So you do you, not anybody else, and your TIFF experience will automatically be a million times better.