Image courtesy NKPR

TIFF 2019: PR Maven Natasha Koifman’s Diary From the Festival’s Opening Weekend

“There is something about the atmosphere during TIFF in Toronto, it turns into Hollywood North and the city becomes electric”.

Natasha Koifman is a woman who thrives on a busy schedule. When she’s not planning and executing game-changing campaigns with clients such as Swarovski, Aveeno and Mountain Equipment Co-op, she’s a key player during the Toronto International Film Festival and has been for over two decades. As founder of the Toronto, New York and Los Angeles-based agency NKPR, Koifman hosts highly-anticipated events such as the NKPR Annual Film Festival Countdown, IT House x Producers Ball (where the celebrity portrait studio in partnership with Rolling Stone is housed), Producers Ball Gala and the annual Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Festival Gala. “There is something about the atmosphere during TIFF in Toronto, it turns into Hollywood North and the city becomes electric,” she says.

We caught up with Koifman to get a behind-the-scenes look at her hectic schedule during the jam-packed opening weekend of TIFF.

Thursday, September 5

5am: I always make sure I wake up early every morning – especially on the opening day of our IT House x Producers Ball lounge where we have over 150 media/talent coming through the space. I like to ground myself with a cup of coffee, cuddle up with my dog Ko-D (#koddog) and take a few moments of solitude to get ready for the day. Jukka Suutari arrives around 5.30am to help me prep my look for the day – he always knows how to get my hair and makeup just right for a day full of interviews and photos. Some of my favourite products include my favourite Lise Watier Twist & Sharp Eye Stylo – with no sharpener needed it’s easy to take with me everywhere for quick touch-ups!

7.30am: Arrive at the NKPR IT House x Producers Ball lounge this year held at The Purman on Adelaide Street West, just steps away from the Bell Lightbox and all of the TIFF action.

8am – 2pm: Drew Scott (who with his brother, Jonathan Scott, co-created the IT House x Producers Ball with me) and I kick-off media day with a packed scheduled of broadcast interviews speaking to everything TIFF – from our IT House to celeb-spotting to the hottest spots to visit in Toronto during the festival. Beyond that, each day we hosted panels with industry leaders, film experts and global changemakers where the public could come experience the space and learn something new! To launch our new ShopNK – a socially conscious, curated e-commerce fashion, beauty and entertainment site – we also created a pop-up shop where guests (like Priyanka Chopra!) could shop for a cause.

4pm: Many people don’t know this about me, but I’m an introvert so I head home to make sure I get some time to myself before I get ready for an evening full of events!

8pm: My husband Anthony Mantella and I head to Toronto Life x FASHION’s Best Dressed event. My outfit for the evening was a Chloé tuxedo, YSL shoes and an incredible Tarot Magic pendant from Swarovski.

Friday, September 6

7am: Only a day away from the APJ Festival Gala, I’m in the kitchen with renowned Chef David Adjey at the Windsor Arms Hotel to decide on final touches for the Haitian-inspired menu.

1pm: There’s a lot to prepare for this star-studded event. Members of the NKPR team – the hardest working and smartest pros in the industry – and myself are onsite for meetings, last-minute décor reviews, live performance scheduling, speech writing and finalizing seating plans for the evening. This event is always one of my favourites during TIFF! APJ is an organization that provides life-changing educational opportunities for youth in Haiti. Over the past 11 years, the organization has raised over $32 million and built the first free high school in Port Au Prince that has provided over 3,500 students with an education that they otherwise would never have received. I have been involved in this organization since the beginning and it is something that is near and dear to my heart!

5pm: After a day of planning, I head home to get ready for our annual Producers Ball Gala at the IT House, co-hosted by Drew, Jonathan and myself. For tonight’s look I’ve chosen a sheer Prada duster lined with feathers. I’m obsessed with the feather trend right now.

8pm: We arrive at the Producers Ball red carpet where the team is waiting alongside a number of cameras and media to interview notable attendees including Amanda Brugel, Jann Arden, Arlene Dickinson, Sean Paul, Yannick and Shantelle Bisson and more. This event hosts over 300 industry leaders from talent to producers, we served custom Hounds Vodka cocktails, had an incredible neon photo wall by Swarovski and in true NKPR fashion, had savoury snacks like McDonald’s passed around the entire night. The highlight of the evening was the karaoke performances by some of the guests including Drew and Jonathan Scott and Kreesha Turner – it was something I will never forget!

12am: Anthony and I have a tradition – our annual #ProducersBall kiss.

Saturday, September 7

12pm: The day is finally here – the 11th annual APJ Festival Gala this year presented by Labatt Breweries of Canada! The NKPR team arrives for the final site visit at the Windsor Arms Hotel and to get ready for our busiest red carpet of the season! It may look glamorous (and it is) but behind-the-scenes the red carpet takes months of planning – from confirming media and cameras to making sure everyone’s arrival times are carefully planned.

2pm: I have a comprehensive roles-and-responsibilities meeting with my NKPR APJ Gala event leads and George Stroumboulopoulos – one of the event co-hosts for the evening. Everyone plays their part – even baby Lola Rose!

3pm: My friend and trusted hair and makeup guru Jodi Urichuk helps me get ready for this evening. My look for the night – Oscar de la Renta.

6pm: Anthony and I arrive at the APJ Gala red carpet where the scene is buzzing with cameras, broadcast outlets and bystanders watching the action. Some amazing guests joined us for the event and walked the red carpet including APJ Board Co-Chair Susan Sarandon, Dakota Johnson, Robbie Robertson and Janet Zuccarini, Yannick and Shantelle Bisson, Janet Zuccarini, Suzanne Boyd, Stephan James, Shamier Anderson, and Matthew Willson to name a few!

6.30pm – late: It was an incredibly successful year! We raised an impressive $1.1 million for the children of Haiti. So grateful for all that supported this event and excited for next year.

View this post on Instagram

Artists for Peace and Justice has grown to where it is today because of the kindness, generosity and support of so many over the past 11 years. At last night’s #APJTIFF19 Gala, we raised an incredible $1.1 million, because the people in the room opened their hearts to those who need it most. We went back to our roots last night, looking at the earliest moments and the unwavering dedication that went into the idea for our school, then the construction of the Academy for Peace and Justice, bringing us to where we are now, with more than 3,500 students enrolled and 4+ years of graduating classes, building bright and bold futures for students who would not have otherwise had access to education beyond age 11. To our Canadian Changemaker Award honourees @DianeBald and Michael Budman…the video created by your daughter Alex truly captured the essence of who you are as incredible forces of positive change. It was a privilege to have Shameir Anderson and Stephan James present Norman Jewison with our Lifetime Achievement Award, and gift him with a custom @roots varsity jacket. Thank you Rose and Danny Mantella for your pledge that will make a significant impact on the future of the school and the community, to Cesare Fazari for agreeing to match that pledge, and to the Faculty of Music at U of T for a grant donation of $25K to music programs for the students in Haiti. The room was alive last night with meaning and purpose…especially when Jimmy Jean-Louis introduced Academy of Peace and Justice graduate Meloundja who reminded us of the impact even the smallest action can have. See our next post for more…🖤 . . . #Philanthropy #GivingBack #Kindness #Love #Hope #Charity #FilmFest #TIFF #TIFF19 #Gala #Event #Toronto #TorontoLife #The6ix#POTD #Instagood

A post shared by Natasha Koifman (@natashankpr) on