TIFF 2014 Lounges: NKPR IT Lounge
Natasha Koifman of NKPR is one of Toronto’s chief tastemakers and knows how to throw a great TIFF celebration. She’s the mastermind of NKPR, and plays host to a wide range of Film Festival events. This year NKPR hosted a superb celebrity photo and gifting lounge that was surpassed by none. Guests were invited to an exclusive photo shoot with up-and-coming celebrity photographer Caitlin Cronenberg in conjunction with W Magazine. We were on hand to get all the juicy details, and Ms. Koifman was kind enough to answer a few interview questions.
What do you feel are the effects that TIFF has had on Toronto’s international reputation?
In Canada we’re used to everyone else being in the spotlight. TIFF is really our time to shine! The film festival is so unique to our city, and it allows us to step out of our shell a little and show the world what Toronto is really made of. For those two short weeks we become the cultural epicenter of this part of the world – it’s really inspiring to watch.
Glamorous jewelry by Christian Rex
What would you say is the most important aspect of TIFF/what makes it so special?
There really is no other time in Toronto like TIFF. Our city comes alive in such a unique way – the energy is palpable and the buzz is contagious! I think it has to do with the powerful combination of the well-respected cinema industry that blankets the city, mixed with the star power that comes with that industry. Those two things working in tandem to really boost our “cool factor” as a city.
What are your TIFF survival tips?
TIFF is a busy time for me, which usually means I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to. It’s really important for me to stay hydrated to keep my energy up. I try to stay away from the sodas or coffee, so I always have a bottle of bottlegreen on hand, or some DAVIDsTEA for that caffeine kick! Little time at home also means I have limited outfit changing opportunities. I always keep my Rudsak leather jacket at the office to add some edge when I need it, helping to take my look from day to night. I also keep healthy snacks on hand – Eat Nakd bars are great for that- fruits and nuts smashed together in yummy bar!
Where is your favourite place to dine out for dinner during TIFF?
Right now I’m really loving Montecito – it’s a new restaurant owned by director Ivan Reitman and world renowned chef Jonathan Waxman. The space is so beautiful and it’s right across the street from the IT Lounge Portrait Studio, which makes for an easily accessible meal out for me and my team. Collette, the newest culinary addition to the Thompson Toronto Hotel is also a go-to. You feel transported into a French town when you step in – so delicious! For good Italian meal I love Ciao Wine Bar in Bloor-Yorkville…love their pizza and pastas!
What are your favourite hot spots during the festival?
I spend most of my time at the IT Lounge – so that’s my hottest spot! But when I get a chance to step out, the Thompson Toronto Hotel has a beautiful rooftop – there’s nothing like it in the city! The view of the Toronto skyline is stunning. I also love the Soho house – it’s such a cozy, relaxed environment, even during festival. I really feel at ease there.
What has been your most memorable TIFF experience?
There’s so many to choose from! Launching APJ in 2009 was incredibly memorable and meaningful – during that event at the Windsor Arms Hotel, Colin Farrell, Olivia Wilde and Kim Cattrall all dipped their feet in red paint to walk the live–art red carpet, created by the talented Peter Tunney. This was before the earthquake, when most people couldn’t even identify Haiti on a map. It was a really special evening.
Please tell us about your partnership with W Magazine, Photostar, and how Caitlin came to head the Portrait Studio.
Three years ago, we decided it was time to evolve our Lounge into something that would be fresh, exciting and meaningful for visiting talent, so we transformed the IT Lounge into a portrait studio with Patrick Demarchelier. Our partnership with Caitlin Cronenberg and W Magazine began in 2013 – she’s such an incredible talent, and so partnering with an internationally renowned publication like W was such a natural fit to shine a spotlight on festival and on the IT Lounge. The stars that come through our lounge will be shot in the studio, and we will make a donation to Artists for Peace and Justice and Best Buddies on their behalf.
Portrait Studio: The Era of Cool. See the full gallery of celebrity drop-ins at NKPR’s own Flickr gallery.
How has the Portrait Studio been received by your guests? Whose was your favourite photo?
Everyone really loves the experience – it’s an incredible opportunity to give back during the festival. I have so many favourite photos, it’s hard to choose – but one that really stuck with me was George Strombouloupolos shot by Patrick Demarchelier – it really captured his essence in one photograph.
Can you tell us about your vision for the Era of Cool.
This year we’re excited to be paying homage to personalities who are instinctively tapped into trends well before they emerge – people who are glorious rebels who the average person doesn’t normally have access to, but who perpetually fascinate us. Celebs coming into town who epitomize modern-day cool include Robert Pattinson, Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckinsale, Jake Gyllenhaal. Caitlin will be playing with themes related to old-school cool. Think James Dean, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor who transformed our silver screens with their uninhibited demeanor and their smouldering sex appeal.
NKPR is involved with a lot of charitable work during the festival. Please share your history with Best Buddies and Artists for Peace and Justice.
The charity piece is another really unique aspect to the IT Lounge – we were the first lounge in North America to integrate cause. We’ve always felt that as amazing as an experience that we want to give to the stars at TIFF, we also want to give back. So, for everyone who comes through we donate money to both Best Buddies and Artists for Peace and Justice. Philanthropy is such an important aspect to this industry – people giving back to people. This year we’re also hosting both charities’ annual film festival fundraiser galas. I’m actually on the board of APJ, and co-chaired this year’s event with my lovely friend, the amazing Sylvia Mantella. I’m proud to state we raised over $1.5 million at that event!
Angelina, getting glam’d up by Goody
How would you describe the effect that social/gifting lounges have on local and Canadian businesses?
So many of the stars that pass through come from the US, so the IT lounge is great for showcasing our amazing Canadian brands! This year we have Rudsak as a major part of the lounge, and amazing leather-loving Montreal based designer that lives and breathes the era of cool. We also have DAVIDsTEA, another beloved Montreal based brand that we as Canadians are so proud to call our own. Another one we’re really exited about this year is Saje, a Vancouver based essential oils brand. They’re amazing and have something for everything! Oils to give you energy, oils to relax you, oils to take away a headache. I never leave my house without them now!
We launched a talent division earlier this year, so in addition to brands, the IT Lounge is a great time for us to showcase some really strong Canadian acts. Through one of our amazing sponsor’s, TD Music, we brought in some cool new bands like Eleven Past One! The girls really go crazy for them so we’re excited to have them come through.
Thanks so much to NKPR for showing us an amazing TIFF time!
See our full gallery from the NKPR IT Lounge 2014