Boy George, Sir Richard Branson Among Those Hosting Parties During TIFF

By Susan O'Neill September 2, 2008, 4:10 PM EDT

Plans to entertain the more than 500 special guests and celebrities scheduled to hit town for the 33rd annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)—which starts Thursday and runs until September 13—are sure to create a buzzing party scene in Toronto, with everyone from Boy George to Paris Hilton getting in on the action this year. “We do a lot of focused entertaining for the directors and talent that come to the festival. Virtually every programmer will be entertaining,” says TIFF director and C.E.O. Piers Handling, who personally plans to host two large dinners for 60 to 70 filmmakers.

“The rest of the party scene is basically our sponsors who are leveraging their sponsorship—Holt’s, the big CTV bash on Friday—there is a whole series of events like that. Then the distribution industry, Canadian and U.S., will get into the scene in a major way and do parties post- film,” he said.

The TIFF party scene kicks off Thursday with a cocktail reception at the Rosewater Supper Club prior to the presentation of the Canadian film Passchendaele at Roy Thomson Hall. The screening will be followed by the official TIFF opening night gala at the Liberty Grand. (Barbara Hershenhorn of Party Barbara Co. is planning the event for more than 3,000 guests.) Alliance Atlantis also will host a Passchendaele party at the Drake Hotel following Thursday's screening, and Ultra Supper Club presents a performance by Boy George.

On Friday, Holt Renfew hosts its annual bash at the Bloor Street store. The event is being co-hosted by GQ and designer John Varvatos.  MGMT is the special musical guest. Down on Queen Street, CTV director of special events and merchandising Francine Socket is planning the eTalk Festival Party, a massive get-together for 2,500 people, featuring an indoor-outdoor party and performances by P. Diddy and DJ Samantha Ronson. Over at Muzik, Sir Richard Branson hosts a public party (tickets are $75) to raise awareness and funds for his Virgin Unite charity. And hockey legends including Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin will lace up their skates at the Air Canada Centre for the Festival Cup, a charity game to benefit the Right to Play organization.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and Tilda Swinton are all scheduled to be on hand for the screening of the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading on Friday. And, according to The Globe and Mail, “an invitation to [that film's] exclusive after-party is considered TIFF's ultimate score.”

The A-list crowd will also have several events to choose from on Saturday evening, when Hello! Canada hosts a party at Birks on Bloor Street, celebrating Hollywood's legendary couples. Canada's Walk of Fame—not related to TIFF—holds its 10th anniversary gala at the Sheraton Centre, and CTV is partnering with Alliance Atlantis for the Blindness after-party.

The Canadian Film Centre hosts its annual TIFF barbecue on Sunday afternoon, and Canadian designers Dean and Dan Caten of DSquared2 will showcase their fall/winter collection during an evening runway show in the parking lot at the CTV building on Queen Street West. The show will be taped for broadcast as part of Fashion Television's tribute special Dean & Dan: Born in Canada, Made in Italy.

Matt Damon and Wyclef Jean pair up to host the OneXOne gala at Maple Leaf Gardens on Monday—the venue reportedly hasn't been used for a public event in more than eight years. And InStyle takes over the Windsor Arms Hotel for a private party Tuesday night.

Entertainment Tonight Canada is set to host multiple events at a studio lounge being set up in Casa Loma, and several local PR companies are also presenting lounges for visiting celebrities, including ASC PR which hosts the Luxury Lounge at Lobby. Debra Goldblatt of Rock-it Promotions presents the Tastemakers' Lounge at the Intercontinental Hotel in Yorkville; NKPR hosts the IT Lounge at the Windsor Arms Hotel; Hollywood Life Magazine presents the Hollywood Life House on Cumberland Avenue; and the INK-Smashbox Swag Lounge will be set in a mobile trailer outside Ultra Supper Club on Saturday. The Toronto Star reports that Nathalie Dubois, who runs gift lounges at the Cannes, Venice, and Dubai film festivals, is coming to town for the first time this year to present the 2008 Toronto DPA Gifting Lounge at the InterContinental Hotel on Front Street.

Several nightclubs are also hosting after-parties throughout the 10-day festival, including the eTalk After-Party at This is London on Friday and the Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist party at Tattoo Rock Parlour on Saturday. Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan will be at Ultra on September 12, and Paris Hilton will host a party at This is London on September 13, the final night of the festival. TIFF officially wraps with an outdoor cocktail reception in a tent at Metro Square, followed by the gala screening of Stone of Destiny at Roy Thomson Hall. 

A series of free public events will also be held at Yonge-Dundas Square throughout the festival.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly named Flare magazine as a sponsor of the Hello! Canada party.

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