Demolition Derby! The people of TIFF's opening night gala

They call it opening night, but the scene outside begins when Toronto's getting its morning TImbits. Meet the people who camp all day for a chance to be part of a TIFF gala premiere.

They call it opening night, but the scene outside begins when Toronto's getting its morning TImbits

(David Donnelly)

By dusk, they arrived. Montreal director Jean-Marc Vallée and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts had reached Roy Thomson Hall for their gala premiere. Demolition, Vallée's new drama about one man's unusual relationship with grief, officially launched the 40th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival Thursday. It was the opening night gala, but the scene surrounding the venue, encompassing the city's David Pecaut Square and spilling into King Street, is really an event that begins when the city is still picking up their morning Timbits. By 7:30pm, all eyes are on the stars, but there's an entire ecosystem that depends on that moment.

There are those who report on the red carpet, like our friends at CBC News.(This would be their vantage point from Thursday night.)

And those who photograph it. 

(David Donnelly)

There are those who are the gatekeepers to a few precious metres of low-pile rug.

(David Donnelly)

And then there are the people who spend eight hours on the sidewalk, just for the privilege of screaming from its sidelines.

(David Donnelly)
(David Donnelly)

Fans like…

Mary Gibson

Gibson has packed a few photos — stills from October Sky. She'll try to get Gyllenhaal and Cooper's autographs. Staked out since 1pm, her track record would suggest the wait is worth it. She nabbed a signature from Gyllenhaal's sister Maggie a few TIFFs ago, she says. But she's not really an autograph hound. Her objective? "Pictures and talk" — a moment with the celebrities who will, if she's lucky, spend a few moments charming fans like her.

How do you get their attention? "Screaming," she deadpans. Apparently one of her red-carpet buddies is particularly talented in the volume department, so she's hopeful they'll stand out. In the meantime, she'll chat film with the new friends she's made since coming in for the day from Oshawa. She pulls out a notebook, where she's scribbled a must-see list that's four pages long: Trumbo, The Danish Girl, My Internship in Canada…"there's just tons."

Margaret Taylor

There are those who wait for the stars, and those who wait for the movie. Margaret Taylor is among the earlybirds in the rush line. "It's easier to come down here early and try to rush it," she says, compared to hustling for advance tickets. Taylor arrived at 3:30, hours before the queue officially formed. A friend, she says, will deliver her supper and join the line later — a tidy trade-off for spending the day in the sun, meeting other hopefuls.

Veronika Frolova

Movie or screamatorium? Take your pick. Each option comes with its own kind entertainment. "We're just doing this because the rush line is too long, and that would take longer," says Frolova, a recent U of T graduate who's been waiting near the red carpet with a friend all afternoon. She's not the world's biggest Gyllenhaal fan, but if she can grab a video of the Demolition star, the spectacle will be worth it. "We'll definitely put it on Instagram so people can see that we've been here," she says. "It's exciting, right? I don't think we'll get a chance to see him again anytime soon."

Check out photos from the Demolition red carpet, the opening gala of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Follow @CBCArts on Instagram for more photos of the people and places of TIFF.


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