TIFF 2017: Grace Jones Takes Toronto
My life changed during the Toronto International Film Festival this September. The legendary Jamaican model/actor/singer Grace Jones came to Toronto promoting her documentary: Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. She's my hero, my goddess and my guiding light. The influence her larger than life persona had on me (a weird, science nerd, tomboy living in the really white suburbs of Richmond Hill in the 80s) was tremendous.
Filmmaker Sophie Fiennes (yes, she's sister to Ralph and Joseph) followed Grace closely for ten years gathering footage to make this movie. In this intimate portrait, we get access to the hidden sides of the enigmatic Jones and her ever-changing accents. The film follows several threads in Grace's life. She visits family in Jamaica and records an album with her collaborators. We see touching moments with her son and conversations with Jean-Paul Goude. Of course, there is candid, behind the scenes footage of performances. Interweaved throughout this honest, funny and eye-opening documentary is jaw-dropping concert footage that will have you asking, "How old is she again?" For the record, she's 69.
Greta Constantine, Krystal Koo, and Michael Cooper hosted the afterparty to celebrate the world premiere of Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami on the rooftop of the city's newest hotspot, The Broadview Hotel. Grace and Sophie showed up to the party with bodyguards and a small entourage. I was breathing the same air and star struck. Grace is old school. There were no selfies and no unofficial photos. Her bodyguards gently but ruthlessly enforced this rule. Some brave people managed to say hi and if they were lucky, got a short conversation. DJ Jojo Flores brought the right songs for this party and convinced Grace to get up and join the mad dancing.
In the wee hours of the night, I gathered enough courage to get a moment with my icon before she was enclosed in bodyguards and whisked away. Grace held my hand, looked into my eyes and smiled. There was no conversation between us which was to my benefit; I was speechless. The party was surreal. Would my 11 year old self that was obsessed with May Day ever believe one day I would meet her? Probably not and I still can't believe that I watched Grace Jones, my idol, dancing until 3:30 am in Toronto.
Images: The Bennett Studio