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Brunswick Theatre to Close


The Brunswick Theatre, Toronto's only theatre committed to screening documentary films, is closing its doors. The announcement was made today by founders Scott Gilbert and Bre Walt. Among the reasons cited for the closure were high overhead costs, recent membership cancellations and a postering crackdown that left them with a $1,500 fine.

The news is just the latest saga in the ongoing decline of independent cinema in this city that has seen rep cinemas and once promising niche players like Camera Bar fail to find an audience.

Personally, I was always rooting for the Brunswick but there were things about it that just didn't work for me. First, pretty much all the documentaries they screened were available at my local video store, Black Dog Video. Instead of more independent cinemas popping in DVDs, what Toronto needs is a theatre devoted to first run documentaries - the kind of programming that Doc Soup is famous for.

My other beef was the space itself. As adventurous as it was climbing up the stairs of the Poor Alex, the space left a lot to be desired. Makeshift would be an understatement which severely limited its appeal to those used to the plush seating and the accoutrements of, say, the Varsity. From day one, I felt they should have tried to partner with Camera Bar, a venue I still think would make a great space to watch the latest docs.

Nevertheless, I have to give Scott and Bre credit. The theatre business is not an easy one and their intentions were genuine and noble. In a note they sent out to supporters today they promised to re-open in a new venue sometime in 2008. Until then, they'll be taking their DVDs on the road for special screenings in Southern Ontario.

The final screenings are tonight (What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire - at 7pm) and tomorrow (The Price of Sugar - also at 7pm).

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