We’re lucky to have even have had the chance to partake in any star-spotting this year given the circumstances we’ve been in! And even though what we got was a reduced version of TIFF ’21 this year, we’re still thrilled that talent still came through, while production on various Series and Films also continued around town this year. And as always we’re happy to go as close as the talent want to get, ensuring safety first. One day we’ll look back and call this our “Masked Era”.
While this is only a fraction of the quantity of star sightings we’ve had in the past, we did our best to do what we do safely. Some exciting names still passed through Toronto in 2021 and we were there!
I’d have to say it was epic that Toronto’s Simu Liu exploded onto the international stage as a mega star for his work in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Not only was it amazing catching-up in person – he actually remembered my name – we also got a quick interview with him! Other names like Rebecca Ferguson, whom we’ve admire for quite a while, came through for TIFF ’21 and we’re glad we finally got to meet her properly! And when do we not get excited to see Jessica Chastain in-town? One of our highlights was getting a Selfie with Mila Kunis, whom we love, together with beanie bright and early in the AM? While concerts were scaled back quite a bit this year, we’re happy to have met some emerging names on the international scene who actually happen to be Canadian, like Mustafa the Poet and BBNo$! And how cool was it that hot off his venture into space, earning him the distinction of oldest person ever to go to space, William Shatner came to Toronto for Fan Expo Limited Edition?
Let’s take a walk down memory lane!
See some of our favourite star sightings of 2021, in no particular order!
While we will wait a bit for these case counts to go down, we look forward to Toronto being the star-studded City it once was once again!
Sir Kenneth Branagh directs BELFAST, which premiered at TIFF ’21 to raves, winning the coveted People’s Choice Award. Here’s a first look at the Trailer for this November release.
Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh, BELFAST is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s. Starring Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, and Jude Hill.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures Canada release BELFAST November 12, 2021.
Writer-Director Kenneth Branagh makes his most personal Film yet with the semi-autobiographical Belfast.
This deeply-affecting coming-of-age Film is set during the troubles in 1969 Belfast. It follows young Buddy (Jude Hill) as he witnesses familial hardships, cultural changes, and Northern Ireland’s Civil War. His father, Pa (Jamie Dornan), fears for his family’s life and starts making plans to move them out of Belfast. However, Buddy and his Ma (Caitríona Balfe) desire to stay in their hometown with Buddy’s grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench).
From the beginning, Branagh shows us the uncertainty of living in late-1960s Belfast. A street filled with laughter, children and neighbourly conversation is swiftly thrown into chaos. Branagh’s camera circles Buddy, mirroring his confusion at witnessing the mob set fire and wreak havoc on his home’s street. By telling this story from a child’s point of view, the heavy themes have an innocence to them. For example, the horrific sectarian violence is shown with the gravity it deserves. However, levity comes when Buddy speaks about the two religions and makes a funny comment about why he wants to be Catholic rather than Protestant.
Branagh and Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos make each black and white frame of Belfast breathtaking. The choice of music perfectly captures the resilience of the Northern Irish people in the face of hardship and uncertainty. Branagh’s decision to focus on one family, with each distinct member, creates an intimate and rounded view into the struggles of those who decided to leave and those who chose to stay.
The family is cast perfectly with a breakout performance from their young leader Hill. He shows Buddy’s confusion, frustration and fear at the war. Additionally, he shines as a young boy yearning for his first crush. It’s wonderful watching Hill and Hinds, who gives a delightful performance as Pop, concoct plans to get him closer to his crush. Dornan gives a charismatic performance as Pa, a man desperate to give his family safety. Balfe encapsulates Ma’s restraint to leave the only home she’s ever known while displaying worry as the war continues. And Dench gives a touching performance has the hardy matriarch, Granny.
Today is the final day most major trade publications have their pop-ups, so it’s one last hurrah for star sightings before things quiet down significantly for the remainder of TIFF ’21. Which is wonderful for us as we can take a breath finally, and focus on seeing Films.
Causing the most commotion around town were BELFAST Director/Writer Sir Kenneth Branagh and its star Jamie Dornan, who did the rounds today. They premiered the Film at Roy Thomson Hall, receiving a standing ovation. The story is said to be deeply-personal to Branagh who grew-up in the titular city during the ’60s, and Dornan is receiving accolades for his work here. So thrilled to catch Dornan and Branagh out and about at different points in the day! Dornan was so kind to stop for a snap with beanie and I, whom I brought out with me on my travels. Her first TIFF and also tomorrow is her first birthday! What better way to celebrate than by her meeting Dornan?
So happy also to get an invite from Variety Magazine and Canada Goose to check-out their lounge, which hosted several A-Listers the past few days at the Festival including Rebecca Ferguson, Jessica Chastain, Benedict Cumberbatch and more. Today we saw Dornan and Branagh in the lounge, picking-out some new outerwear. Branagh is a huge fan of Canada Goose and we heard that he still has a parka he’s been wearing for over ten years!
Can I saw how cool it was meeting Kenny G? The legendary Saxophonist helping propel Smooth Jazz to a wider audience, was in town for Director Penny Lane’s Documentary, LISTENING TO KENNY G. The Film premiered today at Scotiabank Theatre.
And last but not least, we were so happy to see stunning Jessica Chastain as she head-off to the Premiere of highly-buzzed THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, which has her portraying Evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. She was so smitten by beanie!
Totally dozing-off but will be up and at it early with a few screenings tomorrow including THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE and BELFAST! Can’t wait to share my thoughts!
Lionsgate x Mr. Will want to give Readers a chance to win a free PVOD rental of BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR! Critics are calling this a future Cult Classic!
Take a trip and break out of your shell with Barb and Star. From the gals who brought you Bridesmaids (co-stars and co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) comes BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR. Lifelong friends Barb and Star embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time…ever. Romance, friendship and a villain’s evil plot…hold onto your culottes, BARB & STAR debuts in your home on February 12th!
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Phyllis Smith, Ian Gomez, Michael Hitchcock, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kwame Patterson, Rose Abdoo
To enter to win, click “like”on this Post at MR. WILL ON FACEBOOK. Re-Tweet the below for another chance. You must be following!
Enter for a chance to #win a PVOD rental of BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR!
Elevation Pictures x Mr. Will want to give Readers a chance to win a Digital Download of WILD MOUNTAIN THYME starring Emily Blunt!
John Patrick Shanley, who created the classic Moonstruck, brings his sweeping romantic vision to Ireland with Wild Mountain Thyme. The headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her neighbor Anthony Reilly’s love. The problem is Anthony (Jamie Dornan) seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father Tony Reilly‘s (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted into pursing his dreams in this comedic, moving and wildly romantic tale.
See the Trailer:
To enter to win, click “like” on this Post at MR. WILL ON FACEBOOK. Re-Tweet this Contest Tweet below for an extra chance!
Daphne (Shailene Woodley) attempts to get her life back in order following a breakup, however, that proves difficult after meeting bad boy Frank (Sebastian Stan) and rational Jack (Jamie Dornan).
Director Drake Doremus is back with a highly-collaborative Feature about losing yourself and being responsible to find who you are again. Endings, Beginnings has a Script, but not in the traditional sense. Doremus had plot points and scenarios he wanted his characters to experience, however, his actors improvised all the dialogue. As his camera work lingers on his cast, there is an immense authenticity to each scene due to this improvisational method. Woodley completely immerses herself in adrift Daphne, Stan is a firecracker as the flawed yet enchanting Frank, and Dornan is charming as noble professor Jack.
Endings, Beginnings screens at TIFF on Sun, Sep 8 at Ryerson Theatre at 9 PM, Mon, Sep 9 at Scotiabank Theatre at 3 PM, and Sat, Sep 14 at Elgin Theatre at 9 PM.
Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are long time paramedics and best friends in New Orleans. They have been through a lot together and look out for one another. But things are starting to get strange in the city once the pair discover that a number of their calls involve a new street drug called SYNCHRONIC.
There is a lot to unpack after watching SYNCHRONIC, but the beauty of it all lies in its unpredictability and how Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead mash together genres and styles on a dime. They all work together masterfully in unison, creating a thrilling experience that becomes exceptionally more breathless as it moves from scene to scene. The stylistic choices here are fantastic and unique, and the way some of these scenes have been composed and shot is rather remarkable. It may be a dark and gritty film, but it sure looks beautiful. Dornan is great, but Mackie is even better, giving one of the most layered and nuanced performances of his career. I just wish the Film did not spend so much time setting up the world and the stakes. It takes away from the wild chaos that ensnares the second-half!
SYNCHRONIC screens during TIFF at the following times:
Saturday September 7, 3:00pm @ Ryerson Theatre [World Premiere]
Monday September 9, 5:00pm @ Scotiabank Theatre
Friday September 13, 6:00pm @ Ryerson Theatre
Also a joy chatting again with CP24‘s Kelly Linehan this morning! Thanks for tuning-in!
Informative and fun segment Will!! We’re on Festival Street tonight and off to a film tomorrow. Hope to see you around town Handsome! You’re always in the heart of all the media excitement. pic.twitter.com/SIZEnlLlxL