TIFF SPECIAL: How to throw an A-list party

Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR, and mastermind of some of TIFF’s hottest events. Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Planning an official TIFF red carpet party isn’t as simple as sending a mass Facebook invite—chances are if you’ve got one of those in your event inbox, it’s not the real deal. Natasha Koifman, PR maven, is the real deal.

Getting an invite to one of her TIFF events is like winning the 6/49—‚just imagine! Natasha’s agency, NKPR, is behind this year’s It Lounge, a celeb-only playground open every day during the festival, and glamorous events such as TORO magazine’s RED party and Saturday night’s swanky Artist for Peace and Justice  fundraiser.

In her Adelaide Street office (dubbed “the trenches” during TIFF),  Natasha gave last-minute directions to lighting technicians and a room full of caffeinated staff working away on Macbooks, while looking the picture of chic in knee-high Christian Louboutin boots.

Natasha sat down with The Style Notebook to talk about the behind-the-scenes of throwing a top-notch A-list soiree.

How did the TORO After Dark space come together?

“We’ve been working with TORO magazine for just over a year. Chris Brady, one of the co-founders of TORO magazine, ended up purchasing the entire New York Times Canadian photo archive with over 24,000 images, incredible images from over the past century—like Niagara Falls when it was frozen over in the 1920s, Jacqueline Onassis visiting Trudeau in the 1960s, etc.

We thought that we should really bring these images to the world, and what better time to do this than during TIFF? I thought, Why don’t we create a destination? So we created a place where celebrities can come and hang after dark—when all of their stuff is done. A lot of other film festivals don’t have this component. I remember the festival 15 years ago when we used to do that at Rosewater Supper Club, but that wasn’t really an organized thing. So now, we’re downtown by day on Adelaide at the IT Lounge and uptown by night at the PEARS on the Avenue building.”

So you’re more into creating a celebrity “space” versus just another celebrity party?

“Yes. I mean the party scene can be especially disjointed during the festival. It’s more about creating a space and a lounge and a destination as opposed to a party. I think there’s enough of those going on during the festival. We do have some of our own, certainly, but I wanted to have a destination where everyone could just hang and chill. I wanted to create a place where I would want to go to, you know, at 12 o’clock at night.”

Where you know you wouldn’t be alone—kind of like a home base or a hub.

“Yes, precisely. That’s exactly it. On Friday night I’m going to host my own sort of thing there. That’s what I want to do. I love this time of year and I just want to have some fun during the craziness!”

Which stars do you expect to pass by during the festival?

“The talent coming in for the festival is already amazing. I know we’ll get the supporters of AFPJ like James Franco, Paul Haggis, Josh Brolin. I’d love to get Natalie Portman in here cause I think she’s amazing. The fact that we’re on street level this year and we’re right behind the Bell Lightbox location and the press office at the Hyatt –we are definitely more accessible. You never know who will come by.”

Caitlin Cronenberg, the curator of the RED exhibition, in the space before the opening.

Do you hope to make TIFF more inclusive or exclusive?

“I think TIFF has been extremely exclusive. I think what we’re trying to do with TORO After Dark and some of our other events is to make the festival a little more inclusive. Hence, what we’re doing with our microsite and the IT Lounge, involving consumers somehow. I think we’re trying to create a bit of accessibility.”

What’s your film festival style this year? What will you be wearing?

“It’s black. I mean, I only wear black so that’s definitely what you’ll see me in. I’m doing a lot of tunics this season because they’re easy. I can do them with leggings and skinny jeans. I’m also going to wear this black off the shoulder RW&Co. sweater that I just fell in love with during a photo shoot I did for them last week. And last but not least, a few pairs of gorgeous over-the-knee stiletto boots. Oh, and mini skirts. I’ve gone so mini this season because they go so well with the high boots. I guess everything revolves around these boots.”

What’s it like in the trenches?

“It’s fun—it’s a real bonding experience. We say that to some of the new people who haven’t gone through the film festival yet. You’ll feel like you’re a part of a family. You never feel like you’re in the trenches alone. I love it. It’s odd—once the festival is over, you actually miss it. We have our finger on the pulse of everything that’s going on during the festival – can you think of anything better?”

How many people are in the NKPR team?

“We’ve got 25 of us all year and then 50 of us during the film festival [laughing]. We double our numbers. I think I work with the most amazing team ever. We work hard and we also have a lot of fun. At the end of the day at least you can be proud  of what it is that we do at NKPR and what we put out there in the world.”

More pics from inside the TORO After Dark space.

Check out our review of the RED party at TORO After Dark! Want more TIFF 2010? Read Leanne Delap’s first TIFF column, and check out our picks for the fest’s hottest parties. Torontoist’s complete coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is all right here.

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