Inside the Film Reference Library at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Housed on the fourth floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, The Film Reference Library is one of Toronto's best-kept secrets for movie-lovers and film-buffs. Free and open to the public, the FRL provides access to the world's largest collection of Canadian English-language film and film related materials.
Preserving images, film titles, reference materials, posters, soundtracks and scripts, Michelle Lovegrove Thomson, manager of the FRL says, "[it's] an incredible resource for film students, scholars, filmmakers, screenwriters and anyone who loves film."
Thomson oversees the development of the general collection executing a mandate to collect and preserve Canadian feature-length films; international theatrical release prints; and Canadian documentary, animation and short films. The FRL also houses over 80 Special Collections - archival materials secured through donations from prominent Canadian filmmakers.
Behind-the-scenes video and audio recordings, press kits and clippings, shooting scripts and production notes allow an intimate look into the careers of Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Deepa Mehta, Mary Pickford, and many more.
The Film Reference Library was established in 1990 when TIFF adopted the collection of the Ontario Film Institute founded by Gerald Pratley, the celebrated champion of Canadian cinema. Operating out of the TIFF Bell Lightbox since 2010, the FRL contains a reading corner for journals and periodicals, a research room, and a media centre where patrons can screen over 12,000 film and television titles.
The FRL shares space with the CIBC Canadian Film Gallery, which offers a rotating roster of free cinema-related exhibitions. The shows are curated by Library Director Sylvia Frank, and produced in conjunction with the Exhibition Department.
The Gallery also exhibits touring shows that complement the work of the Film Reference Library, such as the recent Kubrick exhibit. Past exhibitions include "X-Men Master: Gordon Smith," "Mary Pickford and the Invention of the Movie Star," and "Otherwordly: Art of Canadian Costume Design."
The FRL is a closed-stacks reference library, which means items may not be borrowed or removed from the premises. However, patrons are encouraged to call or email ahead with their query and the skilled librarians will pull and hold materials to suit their requests. The library primarily services students, scholars and provides internal research services to TIFF staff, but is open to anyone looking to learn more about the art and history of Canadian film.
The Film Reference Library by the numbers
Photos via TIFF, Kubrick photo by Alejandro Santiago
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