By Janet Susan R. Nepales
Los Angeles — Statuesque and lovely 5’11” tall Nicole Kidman bent to accommodate my petite 5’0” height when we took a photo together. Then she whispered to me, “Janet, your family is so nice!” How many Hollywood superstars do and say that? That’s why we love this down-to-earth lady who is not just talented but also very humble and accommodating.
We met at the joint annual party of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and The Hollywood Reporter (THR) at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which is considered as the hottest party in town during the said festival.
The Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto was brimming from wall to wall with Hollywood A-listers who flew in to celebrate film, the start of the awards season, colleagues and their latest films.
Jennifer Lopez, who was the star of the box-office hit “Hustlers” walked in with her entourage of black-suited men in sunglasses. J. Lo walked late into the party but that’s how a diva walks into a party — fashionably late. She had photos with some fans and the paparazzi was all over her as well.
Before J. Lo, co-star Constance Wu and “The Farewell” director Lulu Wang walked in without any fanfare and were very low profile. The only one who almost matched J. Lo’s dramatic entrance was comedian Eddie Murphy who arrived with his own entourage dressed in black leather jackets. Eddie was friendly and smiled for photos. He was also promoting his comeback movie, “Dolemite is My Name” which debuts at TIFF.
Eddie Redmayne took off his jacket and settled wearing his white long-sleeved shirt throughout the night since it was already getting warmer in the packed ballroom what with all the guests and celebrities increasing in number as the night passed.
Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan, who are both in “Just Mercy,” and Ansel Elgort, who is starring in “The Goldfinch” movie with Nicole Kidman, were hanging out together near the Dior photo booth where strings of red hearts dangled from the top of the booth. At first the gang had serious poses in the booth, then they started clowning around. We also caught Ansel, wearing an all-white ensemble, jump on a pillow and started dancing.
Adam Driver, who is featured in “Marriage Story” with Scarlett Johansson was catching up with Allison Janney, who is starring in the film “Bad Education.”
Matthew Rhys, who portrays a journalist in the Tom Hanks-starring movie about the popular Mister Rogers bio film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” walked in with his beautiful wife and former “The Americans” co-star Keri Russell. Edward Norton, the actor-writer-director of “Motherless Brooklyn,” was huddled in a corner talking to press and friends.
Gary Oldman, of “The Laundromat” arrived with his wife art curator, Gisele Schmidt. Dakota Johnson was hanging out with dad Don Johnson and former stepdad, Antonio Banderas (who had the movie “Pain and Glory” at TIFF). The “Fifty Shades of Grey” star also bumped into former “Grey” co-star Jamie Dornan.
Renee Zellweger, star of the Judy Garland biopic “Judy”, held court in one corner of the room in a smart symmetrically-designed jumpsuit. Definitely in the running for “Best Actress” for her performance in this movie, Renee simply blushed and said “Thank you” softly when we complimented her.
Still at the star-studded event at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto attended by Hollywood stars flying in to showcase their respective movies, mingle and network with their colleagues and other filmmakers were: Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ray Liotta, Caitriona Balfe, Chris Evans, Chris Cooper, Alex Rodriguez, Isabelle Huppert, Kerry Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Julia Stiles, Willem Dafoe, Wesley Snipes, among many others.
Guests mixed and mingled in the Aria ballroom while enjoying lemon chicken piccata, chutney mint samosas and seared tuna on crispy rice. Hollywood’s biggest names were immersed in an elegant, contemporary environment with intimate gathering areas. Warm metals and earth-toned furnishings were punctuated by a cascading, bronze architectural installation. It lent as a focal point to the dramatically scaled room. As the evening was underway, guests continued to laugh and dance while enjoying champagne and an assortment of decadent desserts including lemon tartlets, madeleines, chocolate truffles and more.
Filipinos who attended the much-looked-forward-to event included Samantha East (Host, Virgin Radio Toronto) with Chris Luis (president, 42 North Integrated Marketing) and her mom Diwata Viado-East, Justine Gamez Huckabay (President/Founder of InterCommunicate), and Michael Acedillo (Client Monitor, Bellwood Health Services).
Earlier in the day, the HFPA announced the winners of our 2020 Residency Program in partnership with Film Independent. HFPA Chairman of the Board, Meher Tatna, presented the award. For the second year in a row, the HFPA and Film Independent will host a three-week program geared at emerging and mid-career filmmakers selected from the Orizzonti section of the Venice International Film Festival and the TIFF Filmmaker Lab.
This year’s winners were Charles Williams (All These Creatures) from Australia, Chema Garcia (Misterio) from Spain, and Karen Chapman (Measure) from Canada. The winners will travel to Los Angeles in January 2020 to participate in the Film Independent Residency, featuring an intensive schedule of sessions focusing on both the business and creative aspects of film, with multiple networking opportunities, cultural engagement activities, workshops, field trips, master classes, one-on-one mentoring, and an opportunity to attend the official HFPA Golden Globe® Awards Viewing Party. In addition, the program includes public screenings of select Fellows’ films at Film Independent’s screening room to share the Fellows’ work with industry professionals and the broader film community.
The event was produced by Brilliant Consulting and was presented by Dior and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.