Colin Geddes interview

Read a worthwhile interview with Colin Geddes–film festival programmer, Kung Fu Fridays mastermind, Hong Kong movie expert, cult cinema blogger, past zine writer and all-around good guy–here. Geddes has been responsible for programming some of the more exciting screenings in this city for many years now.

I was always obsessed with war and science fiction films and comic books. I grew up in the countryside, just outside of Kingston. A lot of that stuff was hard to obtain. This was before the Internet and video tapes. You could only see films in the theatre and late night TV. We only got two channels on a black and white television, so I read up so much on films that I couldn’t actually see until I moved to the big city.

If you want to read more, here is an older article on Geddes’ film preservation efforts.

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Toronto Underground Cinema to close in September

One of the more exciting things to happen to Toronto in the last few years has been the reopening of the Golden Classics Theatre on Spadina as the Toronto Underground Cinema. Since opening, the Toronto Underground set itself apart by screening classics and offbeat fare like Heavy MetalInfernal AffairsDeep RedThe BeyondCowboy Bebop, and Detroit 9000, scheduling monthly burlesque shows and programming truly awesome events like the original Batman screening / Adam West Q&A. When the theatre announced in July that it was closing for August for renovations, most of us thought that the theatre would only come back stronger and better. However, John Semley for the Toronto Star reports that the Underground will be reopening shortly only to close for good in mid-September. Definite bummer. 

It’s hardly an amicable breakup, but the Underground crew knew it was a gamble going in. “We were never working with a reasonable budget to do what we were trying to do,” says Woodside. “And we just decided we were going to do it anyway.”

The Underground will screen its last double-bill Sunday, Sept. 16: fittingly programmed screenings of the cult doomsday flick Night of the Comet and The Band’s 1976 farewell concert film The Last Waltz. Both films will be projected in 35mm.

Read the rest of Semley’s article here.

Toronto’s only Porn Theatre to Start Nightly Screenings of Art, Schlock, Indie and Foreign Films

The story of Toronto’s west end Metro Theatre is fascinating. Opened in the 1930s, the Metro is one of the Toronto’s oldest independent theatres. The theatre switched to adult-only fare in the 1970s (I remember reading that the owner held the Canadian distribution rights to the Emanuelle series), and has been dying slowly ever since, a not uncommon fate for adult film theatres.

Generally, the story of the Metro and its downfall is a depressing one, particularly the owner’s perpetual bad luck (he actually had dreams of screening Bollywood movies), who is by all accounts a nice guy (the ticket booth used to stock charged car batteries for people with car problems). The Metro has always had a place in my heart. Back in the ’90s, I was lucky enough to catch Shaw Bros. classic Master Killer: 36th Chamber of Shaolin at the Metro where it played as part the Kung Fu Fridays series.

However, there may still be hope for the theatre yet. The Toronto Star reports that Jonathan Hlibka and Nadia Sandhu, owner-operators of east end rep theatre the Projection Booth, have a management deal to program nightly screenings at the Metro.

Hlibka and Sandu plan to schedule a mix similar to that of the Projection Booth–recent indies, documentaries and cult faves. This is great news and Hlibka and Sandu are the right people for the project.

Pagliaro, Jennifer. “Toronto’s Last Porn Movie Theatre to get Art House Cinema Makeover.” The Toronto Star. 3 Aug 2012.

Jonathan Hlibka is smiling in the Metro Theatre‘s front lobby, pointing behind the concession stand to the Caribbean-themed mural of a giant big-beaked toucan and the words “Welcome” spelled out in yellow and orange paint.

Nearby is another out-of-place bird — so dirty it’s hard to tell if it’s bronze or gold — perched atop a stone fountain, buried under piles of junk and debris through a nearby door whose frame hangs orphan from any wall.

“It’s like Scarface,” Hlibka says of the west-end Koreatown space. “I love the space…I love how ostentatious and how gaudy it is. It’s charming.”

Al Pacino reportedly liked it, too, and was rumoured to have sat in one of the dingy theatre seats during the filming of his 1989 film Sea of Love, in which the opening credits feature the exterior “XXX” marquee.

In those days, the theatre had passed through the glorious cinema boom, having switched to adult movies — what film buffs call “skin cinema” or simply, pornography — for more than a decade.

But after sinking its current owners into debt, the province’s last porn palace may finally make a comeback with the help of Hlibka and partner, Nadia Sandhu, who hope their “labour of love” will transform the near Bloor St. W. theatre, near Christie St., into a nightly arthouse cinematic experience.

The pair, who run the distribution company Studio Film Group, will be kicking off their trial run on Aug. 17 with regular programming of “art, schlock, indie and foreign” films.

“Consider us like a pop-up shop,” Hbilka said.

For more on the Metro’s depressing but interesting history, also check out the following stories.

Akler, Howard. “A Tale of Two Theatres: While the Bloor Cinema is Reborn, nearby Metro Threatre Languishes.” National Post. 10 Mar 2012.

Kennedy, Brendan. “The Metro: Still X-rated, still for sale.” Toronto Star. 29 Dec 2011.