City Scenes: Toronto Cinema Spaces pt. 2

Last month I made a return trip to Toronto. It was my first time getting to experience the city in Spring/Summer mode (all my previous visits have been in late October/early November). I also brought with me past impressions and unfinished business from recent trips, especially the cinema locations I wasn’t able to visit last Fall. The Cinesphere remains closed for renovations, so I wasn’t able to cross it off my list. I stumbled upon Cine Cycle on my first night in the city, and there was some sort of event going on but I didn’t know how to attend so that ambition remains unfulfilled.

I was comforted to still find flyers for Reg Hartt’s Cineforum papering some of downtown’s major thoroughfares. The Nosferatu/Kid A mashup and Metropolis screenings are still in the venue’s circulation, along with Hartt’s LSD spotlight (one of the Cineforum offerings I most want to see, along with the Jane Jacobs presentation).

In what is becoming a Torontonian tradition for me, I headed to the Cineplex at Dundas Square for an anniversary screening of a classic film. This time around it was the 30th anniversary of True Romance. As with last October’s special screening of The Thing, I had assumed that these were part of the Fathom events that you can find at multiplexes in the states, but these appear to be independently organized Canada-only productions.

It just so happened that one of the events happening over the weekend during my stay in the city was Doors Open Toronto, a two-day open house of sorts where 150 locations were freely open to the public. I was familiar with the format from attending a similar Doors Open Pittsburgh event several years ago (and ironically, during this same weekend in Toronto I was missing out on the summer’s first OpenStreetsPGH event in my neighborhood back home). I decided to set aside my Sunday to take advantage of the event, but with so many sites spread across the city I knew I would have to be selective in my touring ambitions. So I decided to focus on the theaters and movie houses that were included on the roster, starting with TIFF Bell Lightbox.

This is the headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival, a complex that occupies an entire block which I’ve passed many times during my trips to the city but have never made it for a screening (this was the first time I noticed the Reitman Square signage, and apparently the land the Lightbox occupies was donated by Ivan Reitman and family). There was a film festival going on that weekend so the Doors Open access primarily consisted of touring the lobby.

Up above you can spy the master control room that runs the screenings in each theater.

The lobby also features some choice memorabilia, like this suit from Cronenberg’s Crash.

I next took the TTC to the Bathurst station to find the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, which had not previously been on my movie theater radar. This is a century-old cinema in the Annex district that hosts specialized programming and film festival events.

By pure chance, I arrived at Hot Docs just in time for one of the closing events of the Doors Open weekend in which a panel of Toronto-based architects and academics gave a series of pecha kucha presentations on the theme of sound, space, and urban environments.

With the speakers assembled in front of the screen I settled in on the mezzanine level above and scribbled notes. The presentations touched upon issues of acoustic space and the sensory aspects of urban design, so I found a lot of resonance with my background and research interests in media ecology and urban communication (it also seemed like a fitting touch of Mcluhanesque/Innisian Canadian communication theory).

The Revue Cinema was not on the Doors Open itinerary, but it was at the top of my list must-see movie houses in Toronto. On my last visit it was too far out of the way to fit it in so this time around I figured out how to make the trek to Dundas West.

It was my first time being in this part of the city and I was glad to finally stroll along Roncevalles Avenue. None of the showtimes for that day’s screenings of their Czech film fest lined up with my schedule so the Revue will remain on my to-do list.

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