TIFF 2017 blog: Puppies, interviews, movies and The GATE’s Interview Lounge

Save Our Scruff | Eclipse

Have you snuggled a puppy recently? The first five days of TIFF were hectic, fun, and challenging–which is exactly what you expect from TIFF–but on the bright side we also got to snuggle puppies thanks to the fine folks at Save Our Scruff, who brought their adorable dogs to #GATELounge17.

The GATE’s Interview Lounge at TIFF 2017, presented by Hamilton Watch, was pretty much where I lived for the weekend, but thanks to a lot of hard work from a number of people, it was a big hit. We had 45 people in for interviews in the lounge, and dozens more came just to visit with the puppies, grab a drink of Sparkling Ice or Woodhouse Beer, and snack on the brownies from Impact Kitchen.

So where did all the time go? I feel like it went up in a puff of smoke, but I am really proud of how well it went.

Last Wednesday TIFF started a day early for me with the Bask-It Style lounge preview and setting up The GATE’s interview lounge before I had to take a break to see a screening of IT. (Yes, IT was big enough for me that I took time away from pre-TIFF to screen it, and the film was nearly as great as I could have hoped. The characters were rich and vivid, the story nearly a perfect rendition from the book, and Pennywise is so much fun, frankly.)

There was some great stuff at Bask-It Style, and a bit of cool technology I enjoyed too, but the three big highlights were definitely Annie Thompson with her incredible A-List Super Tote, DAVIDsTEA with their very tasty mix of teas plus their new Tea Press, and author Adrienne Kress, who introduced me to her book The Explorers: The Door in the Alley.

On Thursday I also visited Tastemakers: Suite on the SIXth, which took over rock-it’s space for the first few days of TIFF. I’ve been going to the Tastemakers lounge since they started, and I love their partners. In particular, Perth Soap Co. left a lasting impression on me with their lusciously scented products and perfect packaging. I also loved getting a fun new pair of warm socks from McGregor, who had a Canada 150 theme in mind. InBalance Smoothie Cubes, which make for an easy, nearly-instant smoothie right from the freezer, were fascinating. And I wish that I had the time to get a fine line micro-tattoo from Ink & Water, but perhaps another time.

But back to the GATE Interview Lounge! Last Thursday we had a media preview in the space with journalists from Elle Canada, The Kit, Flare, and Fashion. They spent some time cuddling puppies, diving into VR meditation with House of VR, and sharing those incredible brownies.

Between Thursday and Friday I interviewed talent and filmmakers from Never Steady, Never Still, The Lodgers, Brad’s Status, Latched, The Ritual (!), and On Chesil Beach. Journalist and GATE contributor Bonnie Laufer Krebs also interviewed in the lounge for Cardinals, and a number of other films on the weekend.

Then, between Friday and Saturday, we hosted a lot of celebrities, friends, and talent including Maurie Sherman from KISS FM; Linda Phan, JD Scott, and Annalee Belle from Property Brothers at Home: Drew’s Honeymoon House, Alice Moran from CBC’s Sunnyside, Suresh John from Mr. D.; and photographer Caitlin Cronenberg, who came by with her son not once, but twice to get more time with the sweet dogs.

I think it’s really safe to say that the lounge helped remind a lot of people why dogs are such great companions, but also why groups like Save Our Scruff do so much good.

There are too many interview to list, but we interviewed Ksenia Solo and Gijs Naber for Tulipani: Love, Honour and a Bicycle, Anne Winters for Mom and Dad, and Judy Greer came by to talk about Public Schooled, just as a few highlights. It was a fantastically busy day, and what I loved was all of the stories. We talked about films and filmmaking, real life success and heartache, and pain and struggle. It made for some of the most interesting conversations.

I also gifted a Hamilton Ventura watch to the lucky winner of our Hamilton Watch contest, who then sat in on two interviews and acted as our official timekeeper, and I also made sure that she left with an extra special GATE gift bag.

This is all just the tip of the TIFF iceberg. It’s been busier than any year I can remember, and it’s not even done yet. We also did interviews for Mary Goes Round, Living Proof, Cocaine Prison, Beast, Breadwinner, and I stepped away for junket interviews for Stronger, including with the fantastic Miranda Richardson.

What comes next? I’m going to be posting what interviews I can all week long, there are dozens and dozens of photos to share, and next I get to go out and actually see some more movies at TIFF. The festival really is starting to wind down, but there’s more to come, especially as we catch up on what we’ve done already.

I also have to say thanks to Ticketmaster for the lovely TIFF kit, including the S’Well bottle, and popcorn from Toronto Popcorn Company. This year tickets for TIFF were on sale through Ticketmaster, and they helped make the online experience a lot easier and quicker.

Photos by: W. Andrew Powell, Matthew Romaschin, and Rick McGinnis.

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.