toronto film events

The top 10 film events in Toronto for spring 2014

Spring feels so close, you've probably already made room at the back of your closet where you can retire your parka for the next six months - so why on earth would you be looking to spend time in a dark theatre with strangers? Yet the next few months are so jam-packed with must-see special screenings, retrospectives, and film festivals that it might be hard to stay outdoors. In any case, that impending warmth will provide some convenient comfort as you trek from venue to venue.

Here are 10 screenings, speaker series, director retrospectives, and film festivals to keep you air-conditioned as the temperatures rise.

Apr. 2, Apr. 23, May 14 | Women Making Vanguard Films | MLC Gallery
Providing exactly what its title promises, this series, conceived by local filmmaker Stephen Broomer, offers Torontonians an opportunity to see large chunks of work by seminal filmmakers Maya Deren, Marie Menken, and Joyce Wieland. All are on 16mm prints, and all are free of charge.

Apr. 3-8 | The Toronto Silent Film Festival
As we've already mentioned, the Toronto Silent Film Festival is almost upon us, with a lineup that looks better than ever. Every year I look forward to the event at Casa Loma, which is always accompanied by a live score performed on a Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ. This year, the film to be honoured with that treatment is Max Linder's Seven Years Bad Luck (Monday, April 7 at 8 p.m.).

Apr. 10-19 | Images Festival | AGO Jackman Hall
TIFF's Wavelengths program is great - a survey of the current state of affairs in the international avant-garde scene - but Images has that section beat in terms of the sheer breadth of art, video, and new media on display (for a whopping ten days, no less), which spotlights a ton of work made locally and abroad. A mix of installations, performances, gallery exhibitions, and on-screen programs, it's the perfect palate cleanser before a summer of big-budget blockbusters.

Apr. 16 | MDFF and The Seventh Art present Hail | Stephen Bulger Gallery's CAMERA
The forces behind MDFF (whose semi-new monthly screening series brought us one-offs of undistributed independent films) and The Seventh Art's Live Director Series (who brought the likes of Whit Stillman, Paul Schrader, and Andrew Bjualski to Toronto) have come together to yield what will no doubt be an even stronger force. Their first task is this screening of the Australian film Hail by Amiel Courtin-Wilson, but keep an eye out for their subsequent events.

Apr. 17-22 | Michel Brault, maĂŽtre | TIFF Bell Lightbox
If you got a taste of the (sadly) late Michel Brault at Hot Docs last year, you'll no doubt consider TIFF's retrospective of his more fictional work in this week-long retrospective a can't-miss event. A pioneer of the Direct Cinema movement, Brault's eclectic filmography also features some of the most rapturously poetic and scathingly political films in the history of Quebecois cinema, reaching its zenith in 1974 when he won the Best Director prize in Cannes for Les Ordres (Thursday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m.).

Apr. 25-May 4 | Hot Docs
This festival surely needs no introduction. The biggest festival in Toronto behind TIFF, Hot Docs is also the largest documentary event of its kind in North America. We've already highlighted some of this year's more buzzed-about titles. Stay tuned for more preview posts with our personal picks of the festival.

Apr. 28-Jun 23 | David Lynch in Nayman's Terms | JCC
Adam Nayman has now conducted several months-long series of lectures spotlighting the bodies of work by world cinema's biggest auteurs, growing his fan base with recent series on Stanley Kubrick and the Coen brothers. Now he intends to tackle arguably the most influential American filmmaker of the last 50 years, David Lynch. Be sure to prioritize his concluding talk on June 23, where he will hopefully, finally give his last film, Inland Empire, its due as the best movie ever made.

May 1-11 | Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Going strong for over 20 years now, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival has continuously provided the city with a wide range of films that touch on the Jewish experience from all over the world. Their programming continues to evolve each year as they look for new ways to showcase Jewish film. Assembling invaluable national spotlight series, as well as retrospectives of influential Jewish entertainers, the festival remains inventive and unique. More on this festival once they've unveiled their line-up.

May 9-13 | Orson Welles: Lost & Found | TIFF Bell Lightbox
OK, so Citizen Kane is no longer the Greatest Movie Ever Made. And maybe you've seen it 10,000 times already anyway. Chances are, you'll be less familiar with some of his other gems. I'm talking The Magnificent Ambersons and the best adaptation of Othello the cinema has yet seen. And then there's the movie I know you haven't seen, Too Much Johnson, since it was only just recently discovered and restored, and this is its Canadian premiere.

May 22-Jun 1 | Inside Out LGBT Film Festival
Pride month is on the horizon, which can only mean two things: Rob Ford is making his summer cottage plans, and the Inside Out festival is nearly upon us. The 10-day festival is one of the largest of its kind, and routinely features a broad mix of artful indies, social issues pictures, and glorious camp, all dealing with LGBT issues, all in good fun and taste. Their line-up has yet to be announced, but stay tuned for our spotlight on what is sure to be another epic gateway into the first summer month.

Lead film still from Hail.

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