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2005 09 08
Reading Toronto’s Film Festival by Piers Handling
imageThe first film I can ever remember seeing was projected on to an outdoor screen in a dusty village in Pakistan. It was a Charlie Chaplin film where he ate his boot and was pursued by a bear in a frosty Yukon setting. Ever since then the movies have always been associated in my mind with the theatres in which I saw them. I have forgotten most of their names, but my brother and I laughed loudly and conspiratorially at the Jerry Lewis and Norman Wisdom films we saw as children in Ottawa at the old Capitol Theatre. I can also vividly remember the two of us seeing "The Longest Day" in a plush west end London cinema with my mother in the early sixties. At a boarding school in Germany that we both attended, Saturdays meant a film in the evening in the school's main auditorium where we escaped our homesickness through the escapist fantasies of a James Bond.

The Toronto Film Festival is also full of these specific, indelible memories. How can I forget the 1990 festival when I sat with a bunch of hardy cinephiles and literally camped out at the Bloor Cinema for ten days. We saw five films or so a day, often ate lunch in our seats, wallowing in the amazing Jean-Luc Godard retrospective.

But, my festival memories are inevitably tied to those cinemas that have disappeared over the years - the Towne, the Uptowns, the Backstages. One of my most unforgettable festival memories is tied to the Showcase, a lovely theatre tucked into Yonge Street, once called the New Yorker and used by the festival from its earliest days. I saw many films in this theatre - Jonathan Rosenbaum's unforgettable "Buried Treasures" series in 198?, my first John Jost film, John Sayles's "Return of the Secaucus Seven" . But, forever in my mind the Showcase is associated with 1989 and the retrospective I curated of the Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski.
[email this story] Posted by Piers Handling / Toronto Int'l Film Festival on 09/08 at 11:23 AM

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