Thursday, March 4, 2010

Camera Is Noted As One Of Toronto's Venues For Indepent Film In The City

Author Raju Mudhar writes about the Independent Film Scene in Toronto for The Toronto Star.

Independents Day for Toronto cinemas Despite signs to the contrary, the city's alternative cinema scene is stronger than ever

"After months on the ropes – and what looked like a knockout blow in December when the Carlton Cinemas closed down – Toronto's arthouse and independent movie scene is poised for a major comeback.

A cursory look at the downtown film scene shows that Toronto has more screens than ever geared toward specialty fare, and it's only going to get better over the next year.

Last week, Edmonton-based Magic Lantern cinemas announced that it would be reopening the Carlton in June. In the interim, the major chains have also stepped in to fill the gaps, with multiplexes like the Scotiabank and the AMC Yonge&Dundas dedicating a few screens to independent films, alongside the likes of Avatar and Valentine's Day.

This is in addition to venerable independent venues such as the Bloor and Royal cinemas, which routinely host festivals and premieres, and the smaller arthouse screens, such as Cinecycle and the new Acacia Centre.

The indie scene here is nothing if not diverse.

But by far the biggest advancement for independent cinema will be the opening later this year of the Bell Lightbox, the new home of the Toronto International Film Festival, with five screens and a promise to host non-mainstream programming year-round.

"Definitely, the number of screens, with the addition of AMC and the Bell Lightbox, will mean we haven't seen this many functioning screens in downtown Toronto up until now, so that's definitely a major improvement," says Hussain Amarshi, president of Mongrel Media, a local distributor of films such as Broken Embraces, An Education and The Last Station.

Mongrel co-owns Camera Bar on Queen St. W., which has a small space for private and public screenings.

He's happy to hear that the Carlton is coming back, which in the business used to be a move-over house, where films can play for extended runs after they premiere elsewhere, and before they appear on DVD.

It remains to be seen how the new owners will operate it, but they have made statements that it will continue to serve the same audience. "
-Raju Mudhar

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