Film Scouts Diaries

1995 Toronto Film Festival Diaries
Henri Behar At The Toronto Film Festival: Day 7

by Henri Béhar

Wednesday, September 13

"It was partly a press conference, a comedy caper, an love-in and a fire drill--but it was all Lily Tomlin", writes Bruce Kirkland in the Toronto Sun.

Twinkling eyed, mussedup-haired but always droll whatever she wears, Lily Tomlin was at the Toronto International Film Festival to present "The Celluloid Closet", an important, remarkably made, both serious and funny feature-length documentary by Oscar winning co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Based on the late Vito Russo's landmark book, "The Celluloid closet" looks at 100 years of stereotyping gay men and women in Hollywood films (Lily Tomlin narrates the piece).

As Tomlin explained her early reluctance in getting involved with the project -- she was close to Vito Russo but didn't know Epstein and Friedman, therefore, "didn't know if I could trust them"--a fire alarm (which turned out to be a false one) started screeching and turned the Sutton Hotel Press Conference room into a stage for messy, and absurd, choreography. "This is obviously a sabotage by the religious right," Tomlin cracked as the alarm went on and off, then on and off, and on and off.

Meanwhile, a couple of "salons" away, the creme de la creme of the Canadian film industry--from David Cronenberg to Atom Egoyan and Patricia Rozeman-- held a press conference to protest the budget cuts concocted by the Michael Harris government. So what else is new, might you say? The feeling--perhaps, for the first time-- that the entire industry is mobilizing and, setting all differences aside and putting their money (or lack thereof) where their mouths are, might actually present the premier of Ontario with a united front.

Party time? The first place to be --and the hottest invite of the season-- was the petite bash (for 300) that Robert Lantos, chairman of the board and CEO of Alliance Communications, held at his own house after the gala presentation of Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite". Full of antiques, the house is a multileveled spread sprawling down to a huge swimming pool by the guest cottage. "A nifty pied-‡-terre," said a French visitor. The food was simple but exquisite, and the service impeccable--there probably wasn't one waiter slash caterer left in town for anybody else's party. Believe it or not, in spite of the crowd, not one glass (let alone an antique vase) was broken. There's something to be said for Canada.

Of course, the second and last place to be, to see and be seen at, was the Aztec, a bar-discothËque in the Gay district, for the "Celluloid Closet" party. It was fun, relaxed, lively --and lasted until 2 A.M., after which the bravest went to Bistrot 990, the only place in town that achieved the feat of having its liquor license extended till 4 for the duration of the Festival. But if you want to party till 6, any walking stiff in the street will tell you where the after-hours bars are. It's the worst kept secret.

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