TIFF Showcases Incredible Talent

TIFF has ended, and it’s been one wild ride. Toronto is already a vibrant city, and one of the top film festivals in the world just makes it even better. This year’s TIFF saw the likes of U2, Nicolas Cage, George Clooney and more exploring Ontario’s capital.

But what a time it’s been. U2 was in town promoting the premiere of David Guggenheim’s doc From the Sky Down, while Cage was there to promote Joel Schumacher’s new thriller Trespass (also starring Nicole Kidman) and to tell strange stories.

But the award-winners of TIFF weren’t the high-profile films. For all the glam and hype, it was Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now? from Nadine Labaki, who took the Cadillac People’s Choice Award. And as for Canadian films, Nathan Morlando’s Edwin Boyd snagged the Skyy Vodka prize for Best Canadian feature.

One of the greatest things about the Toronto International Film Festival is that it isn’t just for established stars to come to see the premieres of their films. It’s an amazing showcase for upcoming Canadian actors like Ali Liebert (Afghan Luke) and Dustin Milligan (Shark Night 3D and Sisters & Brothers). We sat down with some of these actors to ask them about their TIFF experience.

“TIFF has been incredible!” Ali Liebert said. “It has been quite a different experience for me. I had a couple films here in 2009—The Year of the Carnivore and A Gun to the Head—and this year it was Afghan Luke and Sisters & Brothers.”

For many celebs, this year’s TIFF was a success. “It was nice, you know,” Dustin Milligan said. “Last year was rushed for me, and I got to take a little more time kind of doing my thing. I was only there for four or five days, but I love it. I love how this city comes alive and just welcomes everybody and everything film, for that period. I think it’s really a special time and I’m certainly proud to have such a great festival in Canada.”

TIFF is a time where Toronto is lit up with industry parties. “It’s exciting and exhausting,” said Gabrielle Rose (Sisters & Brothers and The Sweet Hereafter), “because you’re racing from here to there, from parties to films, meeting all these exciting and creative people.”

The parties come tailor-made for great stories, like the shindig on opening night where, surreally, both Bono and a Bono-impersonator showed up. But everyone has their own tale.

“On the night of our premiere,” Dustin Milligan said, “we had our party in this two story building with these open windows upstairs, and as I was saying goodbye to everybody and hugging everybody downstairs, somebody knocked a glass of red wine out of the window and it landed right on top of me on my borrowed suit. I took a red wine shower in a suit. What can you do?”

But for Canadian actor Ben Ratner (Sisters & Brothers), this year’s TIFF wasn’t just about the glamour. “I’ve been teaching a workshop while I’m here,” he said. “I was brought up here to teach a three day workshop. My days have been full teaching a class. During nights, I’m going to another premiere, a couple of parties. Everyone who’s coming to TIFF comes for different reasons. Some come to network, some come to have fun and blow off steam, a couple people come to go to movies.”

And the city? “I love it,” Ratner said. “It’s the closest thing we have in Canada to New York. If people say Montreal is the closest thing we have to Europe, then Toronto is the closest to New York. I live in Vancouver, so it’s good to get a jolt of a big urban city where people aren’t distracted by the mountains and the oceans. They’re dealing with the culture and the art and dealing with each other more… There’s a real Toronto/Vancouver rivalry, but I think that’s more for fun… If you want to visit an urban city, this is the place to go.”

Ratner appears with Dustin Milligan in Sisters & Brothers, a drama directed by Carl Bessai, the third in a trilogy, starring Cory Monteith, Dustin Milligan, Ben Ratner, Gabrielle Rose, Gabrielle Miller, and Camille Sullivan.

“We had a great premiere,” Ratner said. “Really enjoyed it, very boisterous crowd. The film sold out instantly.”

Gabrielle Rose, who plays a troubled mother in the film, said, “I love TIFF. I love the Toronto Film Festival. It’s a great showcase for Canadian talent… It’s a very prestigious film festival, and a great honour to be invited. It’s an internationally renowned film festival, and one of the top festivals of the world.”

Until next year, TIFF.


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