The stars descended on Soho House in downtown Toronto on Saturday for Variety and Chanel’s Female Filmmakers’ Dinner during the Toronto International Film Festival.
Guests in attendance included Tilda Swinton, star of Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter”; Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of “The Woman King”; Darren Aronofsky, director of “The Whale”; and Anna Kendrick, who’s in Toronto shopping her new AGC Studios project “The Dating Game” to market buyers.
Stars mingled on a packed rooftop before convening in the club’s private dining room, which gathered around 100 of the festival’s bright lights in filmmaking. They dined on a bespoke Soho House menu of beef tartare with black truffle, black cod and bok choy, and wagyu rib cap with porcini purée.
The dinner was hosted by Variety CEO and group publisher Michelle Sobrino-Stearns and co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh.
Attendees included Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann; Margaret Qualley and Jack Antanoff; Tyler Perry; Ty Simpkins; Andrew Scott; Sally El Hosaini; James Krishna Floyd; Vicky Krieps; Lashana Lynch; and Sheila Atim.
El Hosaini was fresh from world premiering her Netflix movie “The Swimmers,” which opened the festival on Thursday night, becoming one of the stronger openers in several years. The “My Brother the Devil” helmer is in Toronto for the first time with a movie, thanks to CEO Cameron Bailey’s support of the gripping refugee drama.
“I felt Toronto was such a lovely home for it, because it’s such a diverse and international city. It feels like this movie needs that kind of audience, and that’s who I made the film for,” said El Hosaini.
“After the screenings we’ve had, people have approached me in the street having seen the film and have spoken to me about it. [TIFF] seems like it’s really integrated with the city, and it’s not something that’s just for the industry or an elite cinema-going group of people. It feels like a populist festival.”
Prince-Bythewood describes her festival experience so far as “a little surreal,” given she had less than a week between finishing the Sony movie and premiering in Toronto.
“Last night was really beautiful, with that type of crowd — it was an incredible night,” said the director of the buzzy “Woman King” premiere on Friday night.
“There’s no pretension whatsoever,” said Prince-Bythewood of the local audience. “They love movies and they love all movies. They’re accepting of all different types of stories. It’s my third time here and I’ve had an incredible time every single time.”
The director previously attended TIFF with “Beyond the Lights” and “The Secret Life of Bees.”
Ty Simpkins, who plays a missionary in Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” called Toronto “the perfect audience” to receive the film, which drew raves out of Venice last week. “It’s been so long since we filmed this. I’m really excited to see how people will react.”
Elsewhere, screenwriter Emma Donoghue, who was in Toronto with the 2015 People’s Choice Award-winning movie “Room,” is back with Netflix’s “The Wonder,” starring Florence Pugh. (The “Don’t Worry Darling” actor won’t be in Toronto, Donoghue says, as she’s in Europe filming “Dune 2.”)
The writer told Variety: “Filmmakers say this is a unique festival in that you actually watch films. It’s not just for schmoozing and doing business deals. Post-pandemic, we’re all just exhilarated to be in rooms together, eating together and talking together. I feel on a high to be back at a proper TIFF again.”