The Toronto International Film Festival brings glitz and glam to the City of Toronto. But while the 11-day festival doesn’t officially kick off until Sept. 5, some folks are already anticipating the 2019 season with grand festivities of their own.
Natasha Koifman, the president of NKPR, is one such notable figure. For the past 11 years, she’s been hosting an annual TIFF countdown party that brings together industry leaders, creatives, and tastemakers. The twist? Instead of hosting the party at a traditional event space, Koifman has always chosen to host her party right out of her Summerhill home.
“Traditionally, I host the annual film festival countdown at home because it’s a way to connect with everybody in the industry before the craziness of the festival,” Koifman told Toronto Storeys. “So it feels more intimate even though we’re about to have 300 people in my home.”
Three-hundred people might seem like a lot, but Koifman always knows every single person on her guest list. And while clean-up might be a pain, the PR pro can’t deny she loves hosting in her own backyard.
Koifman's backyard before it was transformed for the TIFF party. (All photos courtesy of NKPR.)
“I’m an introvert, so for me, this is the ultimate way to entertain,” she said. “Because I’ve been in the industry for so long... it feels like camp. You know, that feeling of the last day of camp before you go back to school? That’s sort of what this is like, because once the festival starts, it’s just so busy.”
Past guests of the festival countdown party have included stars like Hayden Christensen, local celebs like Jessica and Ben Mulroney, and Canadian entrepreneurs like Diane Bald and Michael Budman, the co-founders of Roots.
With an impressive guest list such as this, one might wonder how Koifman manages to entertain. “We always try to do something a little bit different,” the media maven revealed.
This year, that meant adding a bridge over the in-ground pool in her backyard, which creates a different use of space, Koifman noted. Without the bridge, for instance, everyone would have to walk around the pool to get to different activations in the yard.
Koifman's backyard transformed for her annual TIFF countdown party.
For her latest TIFF countdown party, which took place last week, Koifman partnered with TREC Brands Inc. TREC is a socially-conscious cannabis brand house that launched two premium cannabis brands, Wink and Blissed, earlier this year.
“Because cannabis is now legal, we have the option to entertain differently,” Koifman explained. “I’m an investor in TREC, Wink, and Blissed so I thought it was a great way to sort of integrate [cannabis] into the vibe and give people a choice of how they want to be entertained.”
An activation set up to promote cannabis brand Wink.
Koifman set up activations in her yard that allowed guests to either enjoy a drink courtesy of Hounds Vodka, or experience cannabis in a new way. CBD-infused food stations were set up in the kitchen by Gusto Green, for instance. These activations gave guests “the option of how they want to feel” at a party, and also allowed opportunity for education, rather than straight consumption.
And, of course, Koifman’s famous candy bar was also a huge highlight at the party.
Hosting a big party at home can be a lot of work, but Koifman prefers it this way. “Obviously having something at home feels more intimate and it’s a little more relaxed,” she said. “And I think people, when they come to your home, they feel differently too.”
The media exec has lived in her Summerhill home for the past decade, and entertaining was certainly on her mind when she chose to renovate the back of her house.
“I entertain more in the summer than in the winter. So you can sort of tell that the house inside is quite intimate and the outside is more of an opportunity to entertain and host,” she explained.
Koifman's living room.
Koifman and her partner Anthony Mantella in their backyard.
Koifman’s love of entertaining in the home is certainly evident. That’s why it’s no surprise she continues to throw the biggest, most-anticipated TIFF parties year after year, and knows a thing or two about entertaining celebs. Her most important tip? Be wary of their needs.
“Privacy is obviously something that we really consider,” she said. “Not every celebrity wants to be photographed, so we’re really mindful of that. We’ll only take photos to a certain period of time and then that’s it so that they can just enjoy themselves.”
“You’re paying attention to different types of details than you would if a celebrity wasn’t there.” Noted.