moca imposter cities

How to learn what Toronto spots are regular filming locations for popular movies

The Museum of Contemporary Art's (MOCA) new exhibit in Toronto, Imposter Cities, is a fascinating exploration of how Canada's cities, buildings, roads, and infrastructure can masquerade as completely new spaces in movies and TV.

You'll get to see Canadian locations — like Toronto — stand in for other cities in North America (and sometimes even other countries entirely) in famous films and shows like X-Men, Pacific Rim, Brokeback Mountain, and The Handmaid's tale. 

moca imposter cities

Film nerds will definitely enjoy the exhibit's deep-dive into ideas of architectural identity and how modern film and television play with the idea of authenticity by swapping one space for another.

moca imposter cities

The exhibit's divided into three sections: as soon as you enter, you'll be greeted by the first one, an interactive green screen that'll let you actually be a part of some of the most iconic scenes, all shot in Canadian locations. 

moca imposter cities

Right next to it, you'll find an area dedicated to short video clips from famous Canadian filmmakers and artists, like as David Cronenberg and Sarah Polley.

moca imposter citiesThe most immersive part of the exhibit is the screening room, where you'll actually watch film clips (and maybe spot your favourite Toronto locale in a flick or two).

Organized by themes, like weather, geography, and cinematic tropes, each of the sections showcase different parts of Canada convincingly playing another city.

In fact, many iconic buildings of Toronto make an appearance.

moca imposter cities

"We also identified the talented 'stars' - heavy hitters that appear over and over again. We refer to these as the Imposter Buildings," says Jennifer Thorogood, one of the curators of Imposter Cities.

"Favourites include Toronto's Lakeview Restaurant playing a classic diner, and the Andrews Building, University of Toronto Scarborough, and Simon Fraser University, both Brutalist buildings, playing evil tech corporations and nefarious science labs," she adds.

imposter cities mocaNotably, the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto, a spot that's usually reserved for wedding pictures, frequently doubles as a prison or psychiatric hospital in films. 

imposter cities mocaUltimately, Imposter Cities is an examination of the contradiction between our personal views on urban environments and how differently they can look (and play out) on-screen.

imposter cities moca"[It's] meant to be both fun and thought-provoking. We hope that visitors walk away with a lot of questions about the character and identity of our cities," Thorogood shared.

moca imposter citiesImposter Cities will run  until July 23 at MOCA.

Admission to the museum is $14. You can visit the museum for free every Friday between 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

For more information on tickets and exhibits, please visit the official website

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez. Other photos by Fareen Karim.

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