Spring! Festive! Festivals!

Spring appears to have sprung (for the time being, anyway) and what better thing to do to celebrate than to immediately lock oneself in a dark room and watch a movie?  I just took in the inaugural screening at the Hot Docs Theatre in the newly refurbished Bloor Cinema.  They have done a lovely job.  Plush, comfortable seats with high backs, great sound system, a new curved screen (installed curiously high up, but that would be my only criticism).  The washrooms are nice, the small bags of popcorn they sell really are small and reasonably priced so you don’t end up plowing through a pillowcase of puffery that could reasonably feed a soccer team.  They do not sell bottled water but will happily hand over a cup of ice free of charge for you to fill at the drinking fountain.  They have done a stellar job, and as I am passionate about documentaries I forsee many the hour being whiled away in this comfortable lair.  I saw the film “Being Elmo” which covers the career of the man behind (underneath? inside?) the Elmo puppet of “Sesame Street” fame.  It was charming and touching and I left before the Q&A with the director as I had precisely nothing to either Q or A.

Film festivals are rampant in Toronto now.  Someone told me recently that there are about 90 being screened annually.  Hot Docs are my personal favorite, although I have been growing concerned that the it is almost too big now and is approaching critical mass.  I missed last year for the first time in ages, so I will see what the the 2012 line up has to offer.  I personally lost interest in TIFF long ago.  The lottery system doesn’t really work for me and the fact that the city is choked and locked down for the duration just annoys me.  I am, however,  delighted by the building of the TIFF theatre and have been trying to take advantage of it as often as possible before the eponymous festival begins.

One relative newcomer that I am determined to check out this year is the Silent Film Festival which runs from March 29 – April 3.  It starts with “Our Dancing Daughter” starring Joan Crawford at the dawn of her career, before she became famous for Mildred Pierce and a loathing of wire coat hangers.  The Festival was started by Shirley Hughes, who is amongst other things the partner of my Truly Excellent Ex, Marc.  Shirley is a force – she has her conviction meter registering about a 9 and her bullshit meter pinned to zero.  They have some great films scheduled and I hope everyone has a chance to check them out.

TIFF theatre, Hot Docs Theatre, Silent Film Fest.  I shall keep my fish belly pallor well in to the summer by the looks of things.


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