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A Volunteer's Look Inside the 2005 TIFF (Part 3)

Days 3 & 4: 5 more galas at Roy Thompson Hall.

A collective audible gasp of "ohs" as miss Theron takes the stage last night for the North American premiere of North Country. Only in Hollywood could a person like this exist. I'm trying to listen to the director's speech. I'm hoping to give you readers something, anything other than how absolutely radiant this woman is in person. I can't though. That is the star power of Charlize. Beauty that dominates a room, even one as large as Roy Thompson Hall.

After a relatively smooth run of stage setup and seating Sunday for The Three Burials of Meliquiades Estradas, Pride & Prejudice, and Revolver; and again Monday for North Country, we are on the cusp of the worst turnover for the next film, Proof. Apparently the three hundred large reserved group at the previous flick were also excited at the prospect of seeing Charlize, or were perhaps moved by the heroic story of one woman's struggle to fight sexual harassment in the mines and support her family, they decided to throw popcorn, water, and kit kat bars everywhere. We are wading ankle deep in the salty kernels. The cleaning crew nowhere to be found, and panic is setting in.

We need garbage bags, garbage bags arrive, and it's time to go above the call of duty. We are seat guards and sign posters, not janitors. Yet here we are in our Sunday best, with armfuls of gift bags, water bottle and candy bar wrappers, stuffing them frantically into the large black garbage bags, tearing and straining with the weight. In the middle of this, they've started to let in people. They weren't supposed to start letting in people. The organizers on the floor each carry their own unique looks of near implosion. We're pasting signs to the backs of chairs seconds before people sit in them. At least a dozen bags of garbage are being hauled off the floor. And it's going to get worse.

We're out of specialty reserved signs for four seats I have to guard for the head of the sponsor corporation and his three guests. Surrounding them are three hundred other guests of the company. All of the group floods in at once, and all of them want these plum four seats. "Sorry sir these are for ****** (also the name of the company)" "Yes, we're with ******." "No, sir, these are for ****** himself." "We're with ******." "No, sir, these seats are for, you know, *******, the man."

This exchange happens approximately 189 times.

Eventually, everyone's in. I need a beer more than I need to see this movie, and the feeling is shared by some of my fellow volunteers. Three pints of creemore later, and we're finally talking about subjects other than movies, a sign Festival Fever may be lightening. But tonight I've got the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line to look forward too. I'm struck with a jolt of excitement this morning again.


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