Toronto: Fest Offers Childcare, Private Feeding Stations

Kids & Co.
Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto Film Festival is even offering in-hotel babysitting for parents attending the event.

The Toronto Film Festival has made it less of a battle for industry parents to have their toddlers tag along as they head up the red carpet into film premieres or do deals.

Accredited TIFF industry execs, press and guests with families for the first time will be able to access subsidized daycare at facilities around Bell Lightbox, and private breastfeeding and changing stations in industry venues. The idea is freeing up industry mothers to work and parent at the Toronto festival and market, says Anita DeVille, a service coordinator at Imagine That Child Care, which will offer in-home and in-hotel babysitting for busy Hollywood execs and talent in Toronto.

"We've worked with actors, actresses, producers and we know their industry. We're open 24/7. We understand their long hours," DeVille told The Hollywood Reporter. Day care during TIFF will be available for a sponsor-supplemented price of $30 per day Sept. 5-12, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Festival guests can choose one of several Kids & Company day care centers in downtown Toronto, while one center near Bell Lightbox will remain open on TIFF's two weekends, when the festival is in full swing.

Toronto film producer Lauren Grant and her peers at the Parenting at Film Festivals Group advised TIFF after their own breakthrough experience with Cannes' Le Ballon Rouge initiative earlier this year, where onsite childcare and a space for nursing and changing babies was offered.

Grant recalled attending an earlier Cannes festival with her eight-month-old daughter to finance two movie projects, and having to feed outside the Palais on a busy Croisette. "I remember breastfeeding on the side of the road where soldiers with machine guns were patrolling. There was something demoralizing about that," she said.

TIFF director of industry Geoff Macnaughton added the festival day care initiative is about dropping barriers to industry mothers with young families as they advance their careers in the Time's Up era — a goal Toronto supports after signing the 50/50 by 2020 gender equality pledge.

That journey includes Macnaughton and his wife, who is also in the film industry and routinely attends film markets at Cannes, Berlin and elsewhere with her husband. Now they're raising an eight-month-old baby.

"We haven't had to take him to a festival market, however our conversations have started on how will we manage," Macnaughton said. TIFF is also offering lobby passes for a nanny, partner or other caregivers for festival guests introducing a film premiere or doing a post-screening Q&A.

And Linda Starr, vp sales and marketing at Kids & Company, insists fathers are as much in need of day care centers as mothers. "We had a gentleman who's bringing his grandfather to TIFF to look after his young child, and he wants to give grandfather a break," Starr said. "So he asked if they could drop off the child for a half-day, or a couple hours. They can, for as short a time frame as they wish."