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Actress Maggie Smith and director Dustin Hoffman talk to media on the red carpet at the Elgin Theatre for the film Quartet during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

At 3 p.m. Monday in the lower lobby of the Intercontinental on Front (TIFF headquarters for most journalists), with 10 minutes to kill between interviews, I decided to use the time getting organized. I spread my notes and tapes on a handy piano and started labelling. Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone sit on the piano bench. Suddenly this lovely, Cole Porter-ish music filled the air. I looked up to smile at the pianist. Dustin Hoffman smiled back. One lone handler stood nearby. He played his song. I leaned on the piano and listened, like we were in a cocktail lounge. Two minutes later, he stopped, I applauded, he stood up and gave me a little bow. Then he and his handler walked off. Spell broken, I looked wildly around. No one else had noticed. That moment was his and mine alone.

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