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Film

Inside Reg Hartt's Cineforum

Posted by Guest Contributor / November 20, 2012

reg hartt cineforumLong celebrated as a staple in Toronto's alternative film scene, Reg Hartt and his Cineforum definitely live up to the reputation--but not everything you've heard may be true. Operated and curated by Hartt, the Cineforum is a home-theatre fashioned out of a living room, in an unassuming Victorian town house at 463 Bathurst St (just south of College).

reg hartt cineforum torontoThe 'theatre,' which fits about 20 people, consists of rows of office chairs and walls covered with cult movie memorabilia. However, the real centerpiece is Hartt himself. Whether you know him as a reputable film archivist or as "that guy who yells at people after movies," Reg is nothing short of an unfiltered wealth of knowledge on film philosophy.

reg hartt cineforum torontoHartt told me how he got his start showing movies at Rochdale College (U of T's brief, failed experiment in hippy education), where his final screening was playing during one of the college's infamous drug raids. Hartt's cinema-talk show then moved to Bathurst Street United Church, and then Sneaky Dee's, before landing in its current location in 1992.

reg hartt cineforum torontoHartt delivers a lecture on the day's showing before and after each film, for which he is famously intolerant of dissent. To anyone who would ask that he show "new movies," "in colour," or taper down his talks, he is quick to snap back with a polite "F**k off." Like the professor at his podium, Hartt will lead the discussion during class time.

reg hartt cineforum torontoPlaying now is Kid Dracula, an edit of F.W. Murnau's silent film Nosferatu with Radiohead providing the score. From the opening credits alongside "Everything In Its Right Place" to the final climax playing with "No Surprises" the two go together surprisingly well; the haunting sounds of Radiohead perfectly complement the on-screen horror.

reg hartt cineforum torontoHartt speculates that the piece works because it "lets the audience watch the film," without having to focus on the "campiness" of the original 1922 score, updating the classic for modern tastes. Hartt made the edit "sometime in the '90s," and says that it'll run "forever."

reg hartt cineforum torontoVenturing to the Cineforum is definitely an adventure, and a must-visit for any diehard film buff. From the uncertainty of watching a movie in a stranger's living room, to being in the presence of a living legend--the whole experience is memorable. But be forewarned that Hartt "[doesn't] care that you don't want a lecture"--in other words, you're getting one.

reg hartt cineforum torontoEntrance to the Cineforum is a suggested donation of $20, or $10 for those under 24 years old. Reg generally shows movies at 5:00, 7:00 and 10:00pm, but call 416.603.6643 to confirm.

Additional photos:reg hartt cineforum torontoreg hartt cineforum torontoreg hartt cineforum torontoreg hartt cineforum torontoWriting by Aaron Ries. Photos by Brian Chambers.

Discussion

18 Comments

dan derbridge / November 20, 2012 at 08:19 am
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can't wait to read the comments.
Meg / November 20, 2012 at 09:02 am
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He kind of turns me on.
Jer / November 20, 2012 at 09:48 am
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Thanks for the look inside. I have been curious about the place for a while.

Interesting that he is still running despite complaints/attempts by the city to shut him down.

If I show up with a toonie will he let me in or is that "suggested donation" disguise for "I am legally not allowed to charge you a ticket price, so, I will request a donation and look at your like you are ripping me off if you try to give me less than the donation".
Todd / November 20, 2012 at 09:56 am
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I appreciate what he does, but I won't ever pay to watch a movie in someone's living room.
Liam / November 20, 2012 at 10:53 am
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I thought he DID get shut down...i've been out of the loop for awhile. What was the verdict about showing private movies in a public setting (I've been out of the city/country for >1 yr and was half-ass following his case beforehand)
jay / November 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Does he make the snacks?
adam / November 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm
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menchies!
Me / November 20, 2012 at 01:03 pm
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So, basically he is a self proclaimed expert and full of himself.
Renata Janiszewsks / November 20, 2012 at 01:05 pm
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Really awesome article. I wondered for decades what the inside if his Cineforum
looked like.
Btw it's hippie. Hippy is an adjective describing
a person who is large of hip.
Paul / November 20, 2012 at 02:26 pm
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How many trees do you figure Reg Hartt is personally responsible for pulping over the years? The man must put up a thousand flyers a week. I'm pretty sure he's also behind those pink posters encouraging college boys to jerk off for cash.
SparklyShite / November 20, 2012 at 02:37 pm
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What's up with the 'Twilight' poster?
nippleholic / November 21, 2012 at 06:53 pm
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I'm not sure how he could have edited Kid Dracula in the 90's since Kid A was released in October 2000.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from SparklyShite / November 27, 2012 at 10:10 am
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Maybe he likes the movies and thinks that he can show them one day?
Reg Hartt / December 22, 2012 at 10:32 am
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"Mediocrity recognizes nothing higher than itself," wrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Not true. Mediocrity always recognizes what is better than itself and always seeks to destroy it," writes David Ogilivy in his book, CONFESSIONS OF AN ADVERTISING MAN.

"If I show up with a toonie will he let me in or is that 'suggested donation' disguise for 'I am legally not allowed to charge you a ticket price, so, I will request a donation and look at your like you are ripping me off if you try to give me less than the donation'."

I made the admissions for my programs by donation as far back as when they began at Rochdale College in 1970. I had been out in Hollywood, wanted to see a film, called and got the admission and arrived to find I was 50 cents short. I priced my programs by donation so that lack of money kept no one out.

When, however, people abused the gift they were told to get lost.

"I thought he DID get shut down...i've been out of the loop for awhile. What was the verdict about showing private movies in a public setting (I've been out of the city/country for >1 yr and was half-ass following his case beforehand)." Check out Lawrence Solomon's piece in the NATIONAL POST: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/16/lawrence-solomon-jane-jacobs-rules-as-ford-strikes-a-blow-for-film-freedom/

and this from THE GLOBE AND MAIL: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/toronto-alternative-theatre-founder-stands-up-to-bullying-threats/article549053/

"I appreciate what he does, but I won't ever pay to watch a movie in someone's living room."

THE LONELY PLANET, the world's number one travel guide, lists The Cineforum as # 5 of the top 5 place to see in Ontario, # 3 of the top 5 places to see in Toronto and as the number one place in this city in which to see a movie (TIFF'S BELL LIGHTBOX rates around # 366 on that list). Chander Levack, writing in THE STRAND, rated The Cineforum the best place to take a date in Toronto.

"So, basically he is a self proclaimed expert and full of himself."

The late Jane Jacobs, author of the books THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES and the prescient, DARK AGE AHEAD, stated that the best part of a Reg Hartt presentation is what he has to say.

There are not too many people who have received fan letters from Mrs. Jacobs. Reg Hartt is one of those few.

On the wall at THE CINEFORUM is a Christmas Card from Animation legend Chuck Jones. On it Jones has written, "Dear Reg, Your thoughts are always close to my heart, Hartt."

Not too shabby.

"Does he make the snacks?"

B.Y.O.F.D.==Bring Your Own Food And Drink.

"How many trees do you figure Reg Hartt is personally responsible for pulping over the years? The man must put up a thousand flyers a week. I'm pretty sure he's also behind those pink posters encouraging college boys to jerk off for cash."

Nowhere near as many trees as are consumed in a year by TIFF, The Star, The Globe And Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Sun, XTRA!, NOW, THE GRID...

Some years ago, 1986, Hartt was invited to teach at one of Canada's major universities. "Yoyu will like it hetre. We get the cream of the crop. We get the ones with money," he was told.

He went over to see if they looked as silly as they sounded. They did. "Of course, you realize, your name is mud on this campus," he was told as he left. He replied, "I could not wear it with pride were it any other color."

Wrote Joe Fiorito in THE TORONTO STAR, “I am a friend of Reg Hartt. So is anyone who can appreciate a man who teaches film the way Neal Cassady drove a bus. I mean that, where you have style wrapped around content and tied with a ribbon of beat improvisation, there you have angels. Harvey Pekar was an angel. And I’ve never met anyone with wings who did not have an ego. Nor is this an easy town for a man who is larger than life, and does not to suffer fools. You might like to know that the friends of Reg Hartt included the non-fool-suffering Jane Jacobs, who knew a thing or two about what, and who, makes life worth living in the city; that’s good enough for me.”

"Venturing to the Cineforum is definitely an adventure, and a must-visit for any diehard film buff. From the uncertainty of watching a movie in a stranger's living room, to being in the presence of a living legend--the whole experience is memorable. But be forewarned that Hartt "[doesn't] care that you don't want a lecture"--in other words, you're getting one."

There is no shortage of places in this city where you can just sit and watch a movie. Your admission to THE CINEFORUM gives you the right to observe what happens not the right to edit or direct what happens.

"Hartt delivers a lecture on the day's showing before and after each film, for which he is famously intolerant of dissent. To anyone who would ask that he show "new movies," "in colour," or taper down his talks, he is quick to snap back with a polite "F**k off." Like the professor at his podium, Hartt will lead the discussion during class time."

THE CINEFORUM offers films from the dawn of cinema up to the present moment.

THE CINEFORUM also has the most advanced 3D system in Canada.

"Hartt speculates that the piece works because it 'lets the audience watch the film,' without having to focus on the 'campiness' of the original 1922 score, updating the classic for modern tastes. Hartt made the edit 'sometime in the '90s,' and says that it'll run 'forever.'"

The original scores for silent films were not campy. Many, such as Edmund Meisel's score for THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, are brilliant.

It is the conventional modern scores for these films that are below the mark.

Douglas Eliuk served with THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA. He wrote, “When something brilliant comes along, it deserves comment. What I am referring to is a recent screening of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS I attended at Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. When organ and even the now rare orchestral accompaniments have been attached to one of the “silent” classics, it is still hard to avoid the giggle factor with all the usual silent movie grand overwrought gestural school of acting methods. However, Reg Hartt has completely transcended the predictable approach and has presented a classic film with a brilliant multi-layered sound track that forgives the histrionic giggle factor. Hartt allows us to see a great film with a fresh perspective. As someone who has been in the film industry for decades and who celebrates cinematic excellence, I hope you will take the opportunity to experience this superb revitalization of METROPOLIS with its innovative music track.”

From a letter to Ottawa’s Towne Cinema:

“Last week I finally got a chance to see a film I have been trying to see for literally years. That film is METROPOLIS, and I don’t mean Giorgio Moroder’s head-banger version. No, I’m talking about the most complete version of the film as it was meant to be seen in a l6mm print so clear, so clean you’d think the film was made a year ago. Wow. I mean I have been hearing stories about METROPOLIS for a long time, but I never thought my expectations would be met let alone far surpassed. And this without the “help” of Mr. Moroder. Does this mean there wasn’t a soundtrack?

“Far from it. Accompanying the film was a brilliant (and I mean brilliant) soundtrack combining both modern music and classical pieces. This soundtrack suited the film when we all know Moroder’s didn’t. So who has this print of the film? Reg Hartt….If you know anything about Reg Hartt you know his lectures are anything but boring. He’s thrown chairs at people, kicked non-believers out, slandered near everyone under the sun (who usually deserves it) and started near riots. In other words, a real entertaining guy. Honestly. Reg is a lot of fun, he knows more about film (and the politics of film) than all of my teachers combined. And his soundtracks!”

PETER MOORE, British Artist:

“I am a Brit artist. I love Toronto. I have sometimes heard it said that Toronto is boring. It is a comparatively well ordered city. Maybe that is why some imperceptive people think it boring. The thing is I keep having amazing successes in Toronto. My friend Bob Welton who decided he was much happier in Warsaw than in London used to say in London everything is possible and nothing is probable. I just find in Toronto not everything is possible but lots of things, important things, are quite probable. Does this make sense?

“ANYWAY, a wonderful surprise in Toronto is Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. I was walking down Bloor Street with my friend Alan, a composer, a Torontonian who, searching for fulfillment in London, has realized that everything he wanted existed in his original home, Toronto. It was my birthday. He said, “What do you want to do for your birthday?” I said, “I want to go and see that!”

“I was pointing at a mysterious poster for TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, (the film of Hitler’s l934 Nuremberg rally). I’d always wanted to see that.

“So we went and I found myself in the most perfect place on earth to watch a film. With the film was an unexpected treat….a brilliant, unbiased, sensible and stimulating introduction by the amazing Reg Hartt.

“So once again, in German mode, we went to see Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS. Reg had somehow spliced on to the film his own soundtrack. Now this was interesting because a while later we went to the Art Gallery of Ontatio where the same film was shown-much bigger screen-and with piano accompaniment. It was interesting to compare the two showings. Reg’s came out winning.”

MICHAEL VALPY, GLOBE AND MAIL:

“REG HARTT is what living in a metropolis is all about. He personifies the city as a meeting place of ideas, as a feast of experience and discussion and debate, as a triumph of the original and provoking over the banal and soporific.”

Paul McGrath, THE GLOBE AND MAIL:
Some audience members were visibly distressed by the frequency and force of Hartt’s interjections into the program but it is clearly his chosen way of doing things, and the payoff in information is worth it. He has many good stories to tell: about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s transformation into Mickey Mouse, Disney’s most enduring character; about the furor that greeted the creation of Tweety Pie, which subsided only when the artists painted him yellow; and much valuable technical information for the animation students. He has some interesting tales about Mel Blanc, Warners’ resident genius of voice characterization, as he continues the series with a full scale look at the Warner work of Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and others. It’s the best work of its kind you will see anywhere because, except in rare oases in the United States and Eastern-Europe, they don’t make them like that anymore.

JULIA SCUTARU, retired journalist, Bucharest, Romania, 2000:

“In Toronto, I discovered by chance, Cineforum. Pure chance but a fortunate one. In that small room exhaling culture, passion and dedication, I watched the movie TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, an important historical, political and social document., and real artistic achievement….As a journalist (in Romania) I worked in the cultural field, including film reviews. Therefore I came to the Cineforum not just as a movie lover, but as a knowledgeable professional…We live in an era authoritatively dominated by brainwashing and political correctness…I admired Reg Hartt’s courage and passion put in searching out and defending the human truth, the artistic truth, the historical truth; the Truth and unveiling it…Discovering Reg Hartt and his Cineforum was one of the most important events of my visit in Toronto.”

DAVID BEARD, owner CINEBOOKS, quoted in THE TORONTO STAR, Nov. l, l979:

“This man has devoted his whole life to bringing the film classics to the public. He treats animation-cartoons, if you will-as art. He is underfinanced, overworked and snubbed. I think we should pay tribute to him.

GREG WILLIAMS, MA (Ph, D. Candidate), President, University College Film Society, and Chairman of the Subcommittee for film, U. C. Symposium:

I wish we had more time to chat together last night about our respective (and mutual) interests in film.
‘Cineforum’ has attained the status of an institution; it represents an achievement of which you should rightly feel proud.

“I can only hope the ‘University College Film Society’ will someday approximate its success and that I will, personally, match your inspired delivery as a master of ceremonies.

“As a newcomer to the business of arranging film programs, so far I am your equal perhaps only in enthusiasm. Thus I find your presentations to be not only exceptional in their content but also edifying in their execution. As an academic (in the field of English) I am also impressed by the high scholarly standard that pervades your informed and witty introductions,

“I frequently wonder if you have ever considered writing a history…some very good books have been written…but no text has dealt with it in a definitive way. A marshalling of your knowledge would, I am certain, produce a very fine volume indeed.”

“Most teachers say you should go to school to get your degree to have something to fall back on. Aside from being a huge lie, that also creates a very high level of mediocrity, because nobody who really believes that is going to take the leap of faith required to be a serious artist. Stay out of school.”–Ellis Marsalis to his sons Branford, Delfeayo and Wynton.

We get all too many reminders that what our school system is producing is a very high level of mediocrity every moment of every day.

The best people who come to THE CINEFORUM are the ones who give more than they are asked to give not less.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reg_Hartt

http://reghartt.ca/cineforum/?cat=29




Ann Raven / December 23, 2012 at 10:40 am
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Love these photos, Reg. Have been privileged to watch many of your silent films with your added scores. You do a great service by keeping these films alive and current! Looking forward to hearing a
lecture!
PASYATONIAMOT / November 4, 2013 at 01:26 pm
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[url=http://lytid.3owl.com/16/11/][img]http://girl.at.ua/_bd/9/57544598.jpg[/img][/url]
This is my photo :)
Reg Hartt / June 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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In the upcoming Toronto elections, Reg is running in Ward 20. In the same way as he has run the Cineforum for decades - against all odds, he will defend and represent Ward 20 for what it is: a neighborhood of arts, culture, diversity and free-spirit. He will save Kensington, Mirvish VIllage, and all of Toronto's historic uniqueness, threatened by corporate and political tyrants! Join the twitter page: https://twitter.com/RegHarttWard20 and the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/regharttward20 and most importantly, vote!

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