Hot Docs has a home of its own at last, Toronto’s first dedicated documentary cinema. Festival Executive Director Chris McDonald, above left, kicked off a media event yesterday to introduce the newly refurbished and renamed Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), which opens March 12 & 13 with free public screenings of hit doc Waste Land (7 pm).
Joining McDonald for yesterday’s site tour was architect Siamak Hariri, centre, and angel investor Neil Tabatznik (Blue Ice Group), right, whose support helped save the historic old vaudeville house. With 710 seats the Bloor is Toronto’s largest cinema and one of the only documentary-focused cinemas in the world. “These are difficult times for the arts and culture in this city but I think this is one of the good news stories of the year,” declared McDonald.
Hot Docs returns for its annual feast of the world’s best documentaries April 26 – May 6.
Photo by Joseph Mi
An emotional, opening night audience leapt to their feet last night as the lights came up on the Mirvish production of War Horse at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Featuring an all-Canadian cast and the remarkable, life-size animals of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, War Horse tells the deeply affecting story of a young English lad (played by Alex Furber, above) and his profound connection to a horse named Joey. Simply but effectively staged, the play was adapted for Britain’s National Theatre by Nick Stafford from a novel by Michael Morpurgo. Inspiring tears, laughter and joy from its audience War Horse is, in a word, stupendous.
Photos by Brinkhoff / Mögenburg
Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey James (second from left) and visual artist Ron Martin (center) are among the eight winners of the 2012 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, presented this morning at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Toronto-born, Belgium-based Royden Rabinowitch (second from right) was also honoured, along with performance artist Magaret Dragu (Vancouver/Richmond), artist/goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain (Calgary), curator Diana Nemiroff (Ottawa), visual artist Jan Peacock (Halifax) and visual artist Jana Sterbak (Montreal). The GG Award includes a $25,000 cash prize along with a group exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada running March 30 – June 17.
The Untapped section of annual art show The Artist Project (March 1 – 4) is brutally competitive with only 16 slots available for the hundreds of emerging artist hopefuls who apply. For the lucky few who survive the jury cull, the show is a brilliant opportunity, a chance to reach art world professionals and thousands of interested consumers. The feedback and insight are invaluable says 2011 Untapped participant Laura Payne, above, who’ll be back this year with a booth of her own (No. 413), the result of winning last year’s Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award.
Payne’s 3D portraits – yes, she even provides blue and red glasses – were an unqualified hit last year and she’ll be showing more such work this week, in addition to paintings featuring celebrity faces peering out from carnival-style cutouts.
Toronto-based architect Siamak Hariri walked an excited roomful of dignitaries through his plans for a revamped Alliance Français de Toronto headquarters at 24 Spadina Road earlier this afternoon. Hariri described the redevelopment as a “small but important project” that will enhance the existing Victorian-era building with modern glass cubes housing additional classrooms, a cafe, even a small theatre. The vision, according to Alliance Français de Toronto President Gordon MacIvor, is to transform the facility into a francophone cultural hub in the city with a space capable of presenting salons, cabarets and musical events. Hariri noted that the building will be completed in stages over the next couple of years as funding is secured: Trillium Foundation Board Member Kathleen Freeman was on hand to announce a grant of $500,000 to help get construction underway.
Photo by Christopher Jones, architectural rendering courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects