cineforum

Last Christmas for Cineforum?

Last month the news broke that film guru Reg Hartt may be forced to move Cineforum from his Bathurst street address because the landlord's son has put the building up for sale.

"It's crazy to try to sell it in this market," says Hartt, who started showing films at 463 Bathurst Street, just below College, in 1992. He converted the living room-dining room of his typical Victorian house into a black-walled screening room. No popcorn-sticky stadium seating here: audience members sit on comfy office chairs and are encouraged to bring their own food and drink.

At first, the City tried to close him down, saying he couldn't charge the public for screenings in a private house. But his friend and regular audience member Jane Jacobs solved the problem by telling him to call then-Chief city planner, Paul Bedford. "I can fight the city," writes Hartt in an explanatory note on his website, "I can't fight my landlord..."

So far, there's no tell-tale For Sale sign outside the building and Hartt has optimistically given his landlord rent cheques through 2009. When asked about his future plans, he shrugs, "I've lived through so many changes." If the sale goes through, he will announce future plans through his simple photocopied posters, much as he has advertised his movie series over the years.

Hartt started showing films in 1968 as a part of the learning experiment at Rochdale College; over the past forty years, he has shown films in churches, borrowed homes, and yes, actual cinemas.

But this Cineforum on Bathurst, with its legendary open-door policy, has become Hartt's true home and soapbox, and the quirky screening room regular makes the Top 10 Best Places to Watch a Film. His film connoisseurship is unarguable--though not everyone is a fan of his eccentric, fascinating, and always opinionated chats before and after his film screenings.

This week's schedule kicked off with a documentary about Jane Jacobs; later in the week, there's Pedro Almodovar's first feature film Laberinto de pasiones, Fight Club, and an early W.C.Fields, to say nothing of 200 Motels (Frank Zappa's touring rock circus, in field sequential 3D, no less).

And for those of us who don't have big plans for Christmas Day, there's the Charlie Chaplin tribute. "Not many people remember that he died on Christmas Day, 1977," explains Hartt.


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