Cineforum back Toronto

The Cineforum is back (again)

Back in August we reported that Reg Hartt's Cineforum had shut down, once again, on account of alleged Municipal Licensing and Standards violations related to the use of his home as a commercial enterprise. At the time, Hartt wrote an impassioned and bitter letter to then Mayor David Miller in which he proclaimed that "the Cineforum is dead. It is going to stay dead." And yet, soon after, Hartt was back at it, this time trying to avoid trouble by shutting off his iconic neon sign and no longer charging admission for screenings.

The Cineforum chugged along in this manner until January 16 when, according to an extensive post on Hartt's website, two more city officials paid him a visit in regards to a complaint that he was showing a film that "sexually exploits teenagers." Here's where it gets really interesting. After a conversation with a lawyer named Richard Zemla, who informed him that the complaints about the Cineforum originated with one individual, Hartt became convinced that Jamie Gillis (who he claims is affiliated with Dr. Jamie's Events Postering and Dr. Jamie's Bicycles) was responsible. Apparently Gills told Semla that he had filed letters and made phone calls to Municipal Licensing and Standards in an effort to derail the Cineforum.

Fed up with this perceived harassment, Hartt then contacted the mayor's office, who told him that they'd look into his case. Lo and behold, Hartt reports that yesterday he received a phone call from David Williams of Municipal Licensing and Standards, who informed him that his "file is closed."

Thank you Rob Ford?

That's certainly what Hartt's saying. With the sign of the Cineform back on, its owner is happily defending Toronto's new mayor. "I voted for Robert Ford for mayor. Not only that I wrote many times in his support in articles in the media that attacked him. Why? Because I saw in him someone who, consciously or unconsciously, is living the ideas Jane Jacobs writes about in her books from THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES onwards. Mrs. Jacob's last book is titled DARK AGE AHEAD. Mr. Ford is the man, if there is one, who can best keep this city from falling into the pit she writes about."

There's probably no need to point out that this vote of support comes from a very self-interested place, but it's certainly significant that the mayor's office decided to act in this way. With all the accusations of pinko-hating, one wouldn't think that Reg Hartt's cinema would be a priority for Ford and Co. Recent history gives reason to be wary of declaring the Cineforum's troubles over, but for the time being it's back in business thanks to an unlikely saviour.

Photo by ampro on Flickr.

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