When people ask me, in the days to come, what my “highlight of TIFF” was, I will answer with absolute certainty. Friday was a day of highlights, but the top one was surely the screening of the piping hot, fresh-out-of-the-TIFF-ovens restoration of Crime Wave, which I got to attend with director John Paizs.

the first five minutes of the best Canadian movie ever

But let’s begin at the beginning. I start Friday with a few errands – delivering some weekend TIFF tickets to friends, and so on. I follow it up with a film, though not the one I’d hoped to see. I race to the Scotiabank to see Phoenix, which everyone had been raving about all week, but the final P&I screening is already too jammed by the time I arrive (admittedly kinda late – only a minute or two before the film is scheduled to start). So, I do the only logical thing I could under the circumstances. I look at the schedule and walked into the next available screening, an Argentinian comedy called Two Shots Fired, which started out promising and then meandered into a directionless series of vignettes with no real story to bind it all together. Good concept, shaky execution.

In the afternoon, I have only one priority: to leave myself enough time to shower, change and feel confidently fabulous enough to attend the pre-screening reception for Crime Wave, which is being held on the small but charming rooftop patio of the brand new Beverly Hotel (it’s not where the old Beverly (the bar, I mean) used to be, it’s actually on Queen between John and Peter).

one of many brilliant lines in Crime Wave, and one I think of often

one of many brilliant lines in Crime Wave, and one I think of often

In my first actual moment of outfit-panic during TIFF, I decide I can’t wear the devastatingly hot purple dress I had planned on because it clashes with the red lipstick I have fallen in love with. First world girl problems, or whatever. Don’t judge me, I’ve been looking forward to this night for months. I opt for a mini-skirt & crepe top, with patterned fishnets and T-strap wedges. All black. The red lipstick is a fine match. Phew. The bitch-goddess success hasn’t claimed me yet, though the outfit is 100% on point.

I get to the reception early and chat with Adam “The Editor” Brooks about Crime Wave for a while. We completely agree on one thing: John Paizs has to write and direct another film and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get him there. By the time John arrives, I’m literally buzzing with excitement.

two talented Winnipeggers share a moment

two talented Winnipeggers share a moment

A backstory-aside: when I found out Crime Wave would be restored and screened at TIFF, I emailed John to ask whether there would be any pre- or post-screening receptions, and whether I could a) tag along to them, and b) sit with him for the screening. He seemed to feel that I wouldn’t have to beat any competition off with a stick, but I’m pretty sure he was dead wrong. I managed to swoop in first, that’s all. It’s obviously no secret that I’m a fan of John’s work, but I actually feel pretty honoured to call him a friend as well. By which I mean “I’m glad he lets me bully my way into sitting next to him at his screening, because I sure loved it.”

The reception is lovely, I have a glass of wine and a tiny amount of (actually pretty delicious) food because I’m too nervousxcited about the screening to eat properly (besides, I don’t want to mess up the red lipstick). At a certain point, John tells me he has to go to the Lightbox for a tech check and I opt to head down with him, for the full VIP experience. The check goes fine, and I continue to float about seven inches above the ground for the entire time that we’re inside TBL Cinema 4 (a small but really lovely space, one of my festival faves, actually). I get to briefly meet Jonathan Ball, the writer whose book on Crime Wave was part of the impetus for this whole event (I have a copy, I got it right before TIFF and haven’t had time to read it yet, but of course it’s at the top of my post-festival list).

The restoration, of course, looks and sounds incredible, and it’s such a joy to be reminded of some of my favourite jokes (and a few I’d forgotten about). And what a pleasure, to hear John laugh along with the crowd. Only regret of TIFF: not being able to buy that charming genius a post-screening drink, because I have to jet off to the Midnight Madness screening.

Swoooon! John with Crime Wave book author Jonathan Ball during the Q&A

Swoooon! John with Crime Wave book author Jonathan Ball during the Q&A

Though, I do not at all regret attending the Midnight Madness screening, as it is the funniest film of the year, What We Do in the Shadows, and I get to sit next to The Moms (mine and Colin’s) who came out for it. Who would have guessed that one of the most heartwarming and hilarious films of the festival would be a Spinal-Tap-esque mockumentary comedy about vampires? And yet, Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement’s film is just about the best thing I’ve seen all year. The jokes all land exactly where they’re supposed to, but there’s an unexpected line of real emotion running through the whole thing that really touched me. Brilliant stuff.

Jonathan Brugh (left) with co-directors Taika Waititi (centre) and Jemaine Clement (right)

Jonathan Brugh (left) with co-directors Taika Waititi (centre) and Jemaine Clement (right)

The film is both hilarious and heartwarming, and just as I think my day was coming to an end as we all shuffle out of the Ryerson, Colin gets a text from a friend asking us to join him and the team from the French gala The Connection, at a private speakeasy recommended to him earlier in the week. Since it’s right around last call, we text a quick “yes”, ask them to order us a couple of old fashioneds, and hop into a cab.

Jean Dujardin, star of The Connection. Sexiest man at TIFF? Or sexiest man on earth?

Jean Dujardin, star of The Connection. Dreamiest actor at TIFF? Or dreamiest actor in the world?

It’s so nice to have a low-pressure drink with a good friend and some assorted French charmers (but no, Jean Dujardin wasn’t there). The staff close the place shortly after the other patrons leave, and then let us drink (and smoke!) in the bar until past 4am. The French are especially thankful for the opportunity to smoke indoors. I am thankful for the potato chips (I skipped dinner due to Crime Wave butterflies) and the personal bourbon tasting menu I’m treated to by the delightful bartendrix.

Another late night, but a wonderful one. Can anything at TIFF 2014 top that Crime Wave screening, though? Probs not.

p.s. Crime Wave bonus: this is my new ringtone.