movie theatres toronto

10 under the radar places to watch a movie in Toronto

Under the radar movie theatres in Toronto often don't make it into the city's easily Google-able movie listings like commercial and rep screenings do, but without them the film community would be a shadow of its current self. From small traditional cinema spaces to back alley bike shops, local film makers, programmers, and midsize festivals keep Toronto's micro screening houses busy year round.

The city boasts a ton of spaces regularly hosting screenings, including Isabel Bader Theatre, Workman Arts, The Drake, Screen Lounge, and even bars like KITCH, home to cult VHS screening series Video Vengeance.

While we miss Trash Palace's Niagara space, they now host screenings at the Revue. Then, the Toronto Underground Cinema has been in use again this fall as a theatre, so fingers crossed for a comeback (a Trash Palace comeback?) in the new year.

Here are 10 under the radar places to watch a film in Toronto.

While some will know it as a dingy after hours dance party space, CineCycle is the underground film community's secret pinnacle. Screenings range from the experimental to whatever reels the owners have lying around, seats are a bit lacking in comfort, there's often free popcorn, and the atmosphere is nerdy, inclusive, grungy, and unforgettable.

AGO Jackman Hall
A step up from CineCycle (okay, a few flights up), plush Jackman Hall is nestled next to OCAD and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Midsize local fests will often make use of it, and films tied to current AGO art exhibits will often screen, such as the recent Francis Bacon tie-in.

The Gladstone
Of course, the Gladstone Hotel stakes a claim to a vital corner in Toronto's film community. On one Monday per month (um, not always an early Monday) Early Monthly Segments will screen at the Gladstone. The series will show rare, often experimental work on formats like Super 8 and 16mm.

Double Double Land
Scroungy arts space DDL, the oldest DIY venue in Kensington Market, comes through with a sizable collection of chairs (where do they keep these?) and a huge blank wall for projections. Local projects and indie films and documentaries that play fests like Slamdance will often see their Toronto debuts here.

While this quirky Kensington Market art space may be more known for theatre and art exhibits, it's home to experimental shorts series Regional Support Network, which imports work from one city's film community at a time, as well as a range of other films throughout the year that might never seen an audience anywhere else.

Yup, you too have probably emailed us pitching an article vaguely titled "What's up with that Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz" screening place" - sorry gang, it's been done. Apparently postering the town with your oddball events still works. See what the strange world of in-house venue CineForum is all about here.

Daniels Spectrum
Part of Regent Park's impressive revitalization, Daniels Spectrum (formerly Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre) hosts assorted film screenings year round, but of course the Regent Park Film Fest (running November 19-22 for 2014) is their biggest event.

Camera/Stephen Bulger Gallery
Stephen Bulger Gallery's cozy bar/screening room (backed by Atom Egoyan himself) is a little on the fancy side, but Toronto wouldn't be complete without it. It seems like they could be doing more with the space, but maybe I'm just not invited to the fun stuff.

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on Bloor is another favoured location of midsize festivals, documentaries, and one-off screenings. Activists will especially want to watch for the programming that pops up here.

Innis Town Hall
While the renos aren't slated to be done until January 1, 2015, U of T's impressive Innis Town Hall theatre, home to many a film fest and free screening, is too important to leave off this list. Until then, you can track the work on their blog, and find CINSSU's Free Friday Films at Isabel Bader Theatre and/or Alumni Hall 100.

Photo of Cinecycle by Jesse Milns

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