Legendary celebrity photographer George Pimentel has been shooting the Festival for 25 years. He’s well recognized by the stars who grace the red carpet – a familiar face behind the lens at every swishy celebrity affair, from the Oscars to the MET Gala, to Cannes and the Golden Globes. But TIFF, he says, is still the festival of all festivals.

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The thrill of snapping that perfect shot – one that captures a moment rare and fleeting is what drives Pimentel in his pursuit of the perfect photo.

It also happens to be in his blood. As a third generation photographer raised
in the business, Pimentel is compelled by this dance between photographer and muse–between fans and the stars they admire. “I won’t be the first to say that TIFF is the biggest lm festival in the world,” says Pimentel. With more than 450 screenings in Toronto versus a single premiere per night at Cannes, it’s hard to keep up with what Toronto has been able to create for film fans and celebs alike. “There’s good star power at Cannes, but everybody comes from all walks of life for TIFF.”

Never into paparazzi, Pimentel was a fan first, worshipping screen stars he wanted to capture in all their glamour and glory. “Back in 1993, celebrities just walked in. There wasn’t a pose for pictures period. I read that Robert De Niro was going to be in town for TIFF–I was so excited because De Niro is my favourite actor. It was natural–he signed an autograph and I yelled out, “Bobby!” He looked up and I snapped a frame. I was so star struck.”

“In the history of my career, Lady Gaga was the best red carpet I’ve ever shot,” says Pimentel. “She took the direction – her people told security to stay out of her way and let her do her thing with the photographer. This was a dream”.

“She loves being directed – I posed her on the empty patio with the fans in the back over her shoulder. She was working with me on the red carpet. She took the veil off very slow and the fans went crazy. It was really special.”

“I was influenced by all those classic celebrity photos from the Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe days,” he says. “I loved the 50s – that was my style, so I photographed the stars one by one and I became obsessed with it.”