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TIFF 2012 Backstage Pass: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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This is the fourth blog in a series documenting what it's like working behind-the-scenes at TIFF.

3:30 a.m. -- Finally left the office after sending out some last minute invites and preparing Saturday's packed schedule. Exit the Lightbox to torrential rain and no cabs.

8:25 a.m. -- Torrential downpour continued as I made my way to the newly renovated Bloor Hot Docs Cinema for an earlier morning screening. But a little (a lot of) rain and an early start time didn't faze our dedicated audiences.

11:10 a.m. -- After a lively Q&A with Reincarnated director Andy Capper, we hopped in a cab and headed to the Filmmakers Brunch. Walked in to see TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey standing on top of the bar giving an eloquent speech dedicated to our amazing filmmakers. Cameron's tip: Forget about the business, have fun, see films and soak it all in.

11:35 a.m. -- Quick chat with the wonderful Mira Nair, director of the Gala film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Working in Uganda, I saw firsthand the amazing work her Maisha Film Lab is doing training and supporting East African filmmakers.

2:05 p.m. -- Standing outside the Winter Garden Theatre, audience members all smiles and thanks after another fantastic Q&A with Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig.

2:15 p.m. -- Quick detour to take my six-year-old niece to her first red carpet: Hotel Transylvania! She's more interested in the giant costumed characters than Selena Gomez though. Introducing a new generation to the wonders of cinema is one of the great joys of working with TIFF and our inspired TIFF Kids programme headed by maven programmer Elizabeth Muskala.

4:35 p.m. -- Waiting for Snoop's arrival for another packed screening of Reincarnated. The man rolls in style. Audience on the edge of their seats.

5:15 p.m. -- Ran over to Milestones to help host a cocktail for Rasha Salti, programmer for Africa and the Middle East. So many amazing filmmakers in the room: Yoursy Nasrallah, Ziad Doueiri, Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas. Truly inspiring.

9:08 p.m. -- Me: "Hello, Julie speaking." Voice on the other end: "Hi, this is Angela Davis." My stomach leaps into my throat. Activist, scholar, author, pioneer and subject of our Gala documentary Free Angela & All The Political Prisoners, Angela Davis will be joining us for dinner.

9:25 p.m. -- Arrived at the Thompson Hotel to host a dinner for Cameron Bailey and some special guests. Ben Lewin (director of this year's most surprisingly feel good film The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt) and his family arrive right on time. It's a family affair and the result is a true labour of love. Still to arrive: Dan Algrant, director of Greetings From Tim Buckley, director Sally Potter and actor Alessandro Nivola from Ginger and Rosa and Shola Lynch, filmmaker behind Free Angela.

10:57 p.m. -- Festival Highlight: Annette Benning joins our dinner party for a drink and asks Angela Davis for a hug. Remarkable, inspiring, re-affirming. I love my job.

12:53 p.m. -- Still buzzing from an unforgettable dinner, headed to the TIFF Canadian Party to celebrate our immense homegrown talent.

1:34 a.m. -- Discussing diversity and Jamaican culture with Canada's own Clement Virgo and Jamaican filmmaker Storm Saulter over a couple of beers. Represent, Toronto.

2:58 a.m. -- Time to head home, though the party's still bumpin'. In the line-up for tomorrow: early morning screening with the charming German actor Alexander Fehling, watching Penn Badgley become Jeff Buckley in Greetings From Tim Buckley, capped off by an intimate, VIP dinner with Jackie Chan.