Images Festival Presents: Toronto: Cinema City
Toronto's movie-going history stretches far back to 1896, with the first projection of the Lumière Cinematographe at the Exhibition and a few days later at 96 Yonge Street. With the arrival of new technologies and changes in movie-going tastes over the years, several hundred theatres consisting of converted store-fronts, smaller neighbourhood houses and outright movie palaces, have graced Toronto's streets.
Well over a century after the first flicker of the Lumière Brothers' game-changing invention, most of Toronto's cinemas are gone. Some, like the Fox and Projection Booth in the east end, as well as the Revue, the Kingsway and the Royal in the west, still operate as cinemas. Others, like the majestic Eglinton, a true art-deco palace, have been converted into event spaces.
But what makes a cinema? How important are plush velvet seats or a marquee blazing its neon glory? Alternative film-going spaces have long been a staple in Toronto exhibition, from the efforts of various film societies, A Space, the various incarnations of Reg Hartt's Cineforum, CineCycle, and most recently, the Trash Palace.
Over the last century, Toronto has boasted over 300 cinemas, populating countless streets and neighbourhoods. Toronto: Cinema City will visualize this density on a large map of the city, giving visitors a taste of movie-going locales throughout the decades.
The sites, from art deco palaces to modern-day megaplexes, are only half the story, as none of them would have existed without the spirit of human endeavour. The exhibit will also pay tribute to the showmen, exhibitors, stage-hands, musicians, projectionists and patrons who injected a breath of life into the flickering images.
Archival photos, histories, print ephemera, artifacts from forgotten theatres and video of Toronto during the silent era will form the exhibit.
Special thanks to Paul S. Moore, Associate Professor of Sociology, Ryerson University.