It already feels like a distant memory but the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up a few days ago. I was able to do see a few films, and attend a few events. No late-night parties because frankly, I’m too old for that! Here’s a recap of my TIFF 2018 highlights.

Bask-It-Style Gift Lounge

Bask-It-Style held its 10th TIFF gifting lounge in a gorgeous penthouse in the Thompson Hotel. Bask-It-Style takes celebrity gifting to a new level by hand delivering VIP gift bags to the hotels where the stars are staying during TIFF. Past participating celebrities have included: Matt Damon, Jennifer Garner, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Colin Farrell, John Legend, Sir Elton John, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Blake Lively to name a few.

Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography
Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography

TURO displayed a stunning 1981 Delorean DMC-12 to promote its Airbnb for car rental service. Stars in town for TIFF2018 received a $500 voucher for their TURO service. Guests also received a $100 credit for Creeds Dry Cleaning, one of six jewellery styles from Anne-Marie Channon.

House of Hayla’s founder, Hayla was on site to showcase their new HOH Monochromatic Heels Monochrome Collection (retail value $140) The 4-inch heels come in a variety of single-tone colours and designed with comfort in mind.

Carried in Sephora, Biossance is a natural skincare brand containing squalene oil, which is in our skin’s own natural moisture which declines over time. It is also found in a variety of plants; Biossance contains squalene oil that is 100% plant based from renewable sugarcane. I can’t wait to try the Squalane Peptide Eye Gel, Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil and Squalane Phyto-Retinol Serum. I can’t wait to try these products!

Photo Kennedy Pollard Ryan Emberley Photography

For book lovers, the reading room featured an appearance by author Hannah Mary McKinnon who was signing her new book, the Neighbours, published by MIRA. The story focuses on an intense domestic drama involving Abby and her husband, Nate. Twenty years earlier, Abby was responsible for a car crash that killed her brother. Nate also harbours a secret related to the car crash. When Abby’s former lover and his family move next door, things start to unravel.

DK Publishing was also on-site displaying their new and noteworthy fall titles, including Astrology by Carole Taylor. Ripley Publishing also showcased its fall titles as well as the latest best-selling Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Series.

TIFF Bask-It-Style DK Canada


Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an upcoming biographical comedy-drama film directed by Marielle Heller and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on Lee Israel’s memoir of the same name and starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. There is already some Oscar buzz surrounding McCarthy’s performance.

Green Book stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in this engrossing story of a working-class Italian-American bouncer who takes a job chauffeuring an African American classical pianist across the American South in the 1960s. The film won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF as a fan fave!

In Hold the Dark, retired naturalist and wolf expert Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) journeys to the edge of civilization in northern Alaska at the pleading of Medora Slone (Riley Keough), a young mother whose son was killed by a pack of wolves. When Medora’s husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgård) returns home from the Iraq War, the news of his child’s death ignites a violent chain of events.

TIFF 2018 Hold the Dark screening

Nespresso Talents

I attended a Nespresso Talents breakfast to celebrate the winners of the Nespresso Talents contest. Now in its third year, this unique competition empowers filmmakers to tell a story through the format of vertical video. This year’s theme “The Difference She Makes” had filmmakers create inspiring stories of women who make a difference. The winners were on hand to showcase their films, and chat in a panel discussion led by Sangita Patel, reporter for ET Canada, and Maxine Bailey, the Vice-President of Advancement for TIFF.

The winning short film was “Mina” by Sara Ben-Saud, and the runners-up were “SOS Poutine” by Meriem Dehbi Talbot and “If only you knew” by Moaz Tasabehji.


Nespresso Talents Breakfast Thompson Hotel Toronto

Nespresso Talents breakfast

Nespresso Talents panel

Nespresso Talents Breakfast Maria

Nespresso Talents Breakfast Maria and Loukia
With Loukia Zigoumis @MrsLouLou

TIFF Elgin Winter Garden Theatre

Until next year!


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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