Looking back at TIFF 2010: Nick Di Donato on how to throw a film festival party

Looking back at TIFF 2010: Nick Di Donato on how to throw a film festival party

Rick Campanelli hangs out at ET Canada's parking garage party

Nick Di Donato, president and CEO of Liberty Entertainment Group, is sitting in his newest Yorkville restaurant, Ciao, where just days ago Bill Gates broke bread with John Legend. Four storeys above is the parking lot that was transformed for four days into Entertainment Tonight Canada’s Festival Central, where a fab four-party weekend took place, all under Di Donato’s direction. The man behind the Rosewater Supper Club, Tattoo Rock Parlour, Spice Route and C Lounge—just to scratch the surface of his empire—and veteran of 15 TIFFs reflects on film festival parties past and present.

On throwing a party in a parking garage
Our objective was to make it feel like you’re somewhere you’ve never been before. The challenge? We have to set the place up in less than 24 hours. It’s about a half-million-dollar production for four days.

On buzz that TIFF’s party heart is migrating to King West
The film festival has always been a citywide event. It wasn’t only in Yorkville. I did the opening party at Rosewater for 13 years, and that was way down south away from Yorkville.

On throwing Brad Pitt’s Seven Years in Tibet party in 1997
Typically the stars are required to make their appearance, and they leave after a couple of minutes. Brad came and stayed for a couple of hours. We had Brad Pitt, Chevy Chase; there was Spike Lee; Wesley Snipes was there. Any given day, if you had Mike Myers sitting anywhere in the city, he would be surrounded by everybody. So I’m sitting at the bar talking to Mike Myers, and he says, “This is a relief. No one is chasing me down. They’re all after Brad Pitt tonight. Typically I can’t even get a drink because everybody’s surrounding me.”

On the One (X One) that got away
We were looking at the Matt Damon party for OneXOne at the Rosewater, and it never materialized.

On condo developments snagging prestigious parties
It takes away from some of the restaurants that could have had those parties. It was one of the reasons we decided to change how we do things by having Entertainment Tonight. People are looking for a different place; they don’t want to be in the same restaurants all the time.