Gil Bellows ( actor Passchendaele ) stands in front of the Big Brothers & Big Sisters display at the Windsor Arms - IT Lounge.
Forget the stars (though I will tell you that Paul Gross and his Passchendaele company were partying at the Drake post-opening gala last night if that's what you're after). The beginning of TIFF is all about the swag suites
Gift lounges used to be intimate and exclusive spaces where the upper echelons of celebrity were force fed designer freebies. Now, even yours truly is allowed entry and hobbles back to the office with a hundred pounds of swag (if you see a sweaty young man dragging totes and duffels down Bloor Street today, say hi. There's a good chance you'll leave with a flat iron or bag o' blush to help lighten my load).
The comp game is all about product placement with a healthy dose of giving back to help everyone involved feel a little less gluttonous about the gifting.
At the IT Lounge in the Windsor Arms Hotel, Big Brothers and Big Sisters benefits from stars who donate their swag back to the charity (Brad and Angelina re-gifted last year of course). Those goodies could include clothing by Fila, Ripzone, Powder Room and Esprit, beauty products by Goody and Right Hand Gall jewellery like the war medal-shaped "You are my hero" necklace.
The celebs who do keep their goods don't throw it all into some bottomless closet where their Hollywood help goes swag diving for holiday bonuses though. Last year, director Paul Haggis visited the IT Lounge and fell in love with Heart Chocolate's health smart chocolate bars. A few months later he was calling the lounge's organizer NKPR to find out where he could buy the guilt-less treats. A few months after that, he became one of the company's backers.
Down the street at the Intercontinental, the Tastemakers Lounge is dishing out Joe Fresh, Strellson and PUMA duds while upstairs at the DPA style lounge where Charlize Theron and Paris Hilton have shopped before, Winnipeg's Manitoba Mukluks is hoping their handmade booties cash in on star UGG fatigue.
Hollywood Life magazine has set up shop at the Empire Restaurant. Claire Danes and Zac Efron are scheduled to stop by this evening and Anne Hathaway is spending the day there on Saturday chatting up her Rachel Getting Married flick.
Star sightings: I was in NYC last night but some well-placed scene spies back in Toronto spotted Ludacris brushing off photographers outside the RockNRolla party in the Distillery District. Inside, Guy Ritchie, Thandie Newton and Gerald Butler broke out of the VIP room to mingle with the partying masses.