TIFF’S BE­HIND- THE- SCENES LEAD­ING LADY

Pro­gram­mer Ma­gali Si­mard on how she sur­vives a whirl­wind 11-day work marathon (wardrobe tips in­cluded).

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A big, beau­ti­ful mad­house of film cel­e­bra­tion” is how Ma­gali Si­mard, TIFF’s man­ager of film pro­grams, likes to pitch her fes­ti­val to neo­phytes. “A very or­ga­nized mad­house,” she adds, quash­ing the nascent spec­u­la­tion that TIFF could be any­thing other than a re­mark­ably-well-oiled ma­chine.

As Si­mard, a pro­gram­mer for TIFF since 2010, gears up for 11 energy-drink-fu­elled days of in­tro­duc­ing film­mak­ers on­stage, greet­ing in­dus­try del­e­gates and at­tend­ing A-list re­cep­tions, you might be taken aback by this dyed-inthe-wool cinephile’s chief con­cern: nail­ing the right out­fits, day in, day out. “I’m ex­tremely pre­pared for the films I’m pre­sent­ing and the meet­ings on my agenda, but I have to be savvy about how I dress,” she ex­plains over the phone with a kind of in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm. “For me, it’s about re­spect­ing the amaz­ing films that we get to pre­miere here. I want to make sure I look the part.”

Si­mard is quick to point out that TIFF is, above all, an arts fes­ti­val, so hav­ing fun with fash­ion is a must. “I’ll go full-on black dress and heels one day and then do flo­ral pat­terns, flu­o­res­cent colours or leop­ard prints the next.”

And don’t for­get about the par­ties (Si­mard doesn’t), be­cause with great re­spon­si­bil­ity (i.e., whit­tling hun­dreds of TIFF sub­mis­sions down to 20-odd Cana­dian fea­tures) comes even greater party po­ten­tial. “Some are ex­tremely glam­orous and red-car­pet-driven, while oth­ers are more artsy, held in grungy places,” she notes. “We go from star-stud­ded galas to tiny Hun­gar­ian films no one’s ever heard of. You want to rep­re­sent that in all facets of the fes­ti­val—par­ties in­cluded!” h

“A big, beau­ti­ful mad­house of film cel­e­bra­tion. A very or­ga­nized mad­house.”

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