Shinan Govani: An insider's guide to the people and places of TIFF 2014

And we're off! As the circus of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) gets going this week, the city luring stars from across the alphabet – not to mention all manner of handlers, wranglers and cinephiles– let's hop-scotch around. People, places, things – here are some of tidbits that oughta help you get through TIFF:

Boldface on Bloor Street:
Variety magazine is once again hosting a pop-up studio and lounge inside the flagship Holt Renfrew, where a slew of stars will indubitably do a day stop. This is the low-key gem that, in past years, has attracted the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Alexander Skarsgard, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard.

It only took him 32 years:
For the first time since way back in 1982, Martin Scorsese is confirmed for TIFF – the auteur is in Toronto for his intriguing new documentary, The 50 Year Argument. (His last last time here was so long ago that he then participated in an on-stage grilling c/o Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, both now dearly departed.

Check the restroom:
Don't expect to catch Adam Driver in a theatre this week. The red-hot actor, in town for the premiere of This Is Where I Leave You (co-starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and more), can't stand to watch himself on-screen. Has said that he'll “hide in the bathroom until it's over.” (So, now you know where to find him!)

Party by the Bay:
The cast of the film St Vincent – that's Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, etc - will be feted by Hudson's Bay at Patria on King West. It's one of two big A-list parties being hosted by the stripes-heavy retailer.

Richard and Salma and Dustin, oh my:
Among the smattering of A-list events happening at The Trump this week (and at the new restaurant America in particular), are shindigs tah-dah'ing Richard Gere, Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. Dustin Hoffman's Boychoir will get things going at a reception for the film Friday.

Too Gould to be true:
To the Glenn Gould Studio, on Front Street: Kristen Wiig, Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell... and others. They're among those taking the hot seat at a series of talks organized by industry site during the Toronto circus.

The best mentors a talk show can buy:
Jon Stewart had written jokes (and some books), but never a screenplay, so he sought out advice from Daily Show guests such as Ron Howard and JJ Abrams, for his debut film, Rosewater, premiering in Toronto this week. Our takeaway lesson here: be a sponge.

Hot reservation:
Ivan Reitman's new restaurant Montecito – which has already drawn faces like Adam Sandler and Dan Aykroyd in the past week – will welcome Denzel Washington, and others, in the next few days.

A weighty matter:
30: the magic number of pounds that Jake Gyllenhaal lost, transforming himself for the role of a creepy papparazo in the much-buzzed TIFF film Nightcrawler. He did it by running 15 miles a day, and often just eating tiny pieces of “kale, cracker or meat,” as he's been saying.

Here in spirit:
Lindsay Lohan may not be at TIFF, but she does linger in the background, almost like a ghost: the starlet gets a cautionary call-out in the Juliette Binoche-Kristen Stewart film, Clouds of Sils Maria. The Oliver Assayas-directed film, which takes on the new age of celebrity, has been described as an All About Eve redux.

A Stone’s throw away:
Fingers crossed that Emma Stone will be along when her beau, Andrew Garfield, here to debut his stellar new movie about real estate and class divides, 99 Homes. I'm hearing it's quite likely.

Thompson takeover:
Bungalow 8 is back: the storied New York hot spot roves again to Toronto for a two-night take-over at The Thompson Hotel. This was the discreet scene that lured the likes of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender last year.

More where this came from! Stay tuned to my daily columns about the Toronto International Film Festival, only at!

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