An insider's guide to Toronto with Cameron Bailey
TIFF's Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey, has a life many a film buff would envy. As a chief orchestrator of the Toronto International Film Festival, Bailey lives and breathes film, and has become one of the festival's most public faces in the process. He has helped makes Toronto one of the epicenters of the film world.
The film professional started out on his path as many do: as a film critic. After realizing his passion for cinema in University, Bailey began reviewing films for outlets like CTV's Canada AM, CBC Radio One, and Now Magazine. At the same time, he also set out on his path as a programmer, contributing his passions to Cinematheque Ontario, the NFB, and, of course, TIFF.
Bailey started programming for TIFF in 1990, and since then - with a lot of hard work - has ascended to greater and greater prominence in the organization. In 2007, he became Festival Co-Director, and as of 2013, he now holds the position of being one of the festival's chief orchestrators as Festival Artistic Director.
That naturally makes Cameron Bailey an ideal person to talk to about the best our beloved city has to offer. I sat down with the TIFF Artistic Director to discuss what parts of Toronto were instrumental in making him the film pro he is now, what spots he can't live without, and the best places you can eat around the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
If you wanted to show someone what makes Toronto such a great place for movie lovers, where (aside from TIFF Bell Lightbox, of course) would you take them?
CineCycle, the completely unique hobby shop for experimental cinema and bike repair. Also, the Cinesphere, the first IMAX cinema still sitting proudly on the grounds of Ontario Place. It's where I saw North of Superior in IMAX as a child, which blew my mind.
What Toronto movie spots have been central to making you the film writer and now the Festival Artistic Director you are now?
I remember the brilliant staffers at Queen Video, The Film Buff and Bay Street Video - especially the ones who shared their faves not with snobbery, but enthusiasm. I spent a lot of time at the Varsity Cinemas. Does anyone remember when they had just two screens? And I still mourn the Uptown Theatre. Especially the Uptown 1, which felt like a palace and a womb at the same time.
Toronto has often been lovingly highlighted by Canadian filmmakers like Sarah Polley and Atom Egoyan. Are there any neighborhoods or places in Toronto you feel deserve to be shown more on celluloid?
Peter Lynch's Arrowhead captured Toronto's ravines and semi-suburban apartment blocks better than I've seen since. To me, that's a classic Toronto environment: Centennial-era high-rises in the midst of urban forests.
You are always impeccably dressed. What stores or tailors can you not live without?
First, thank you. I owe the biggest debt to Hugo Boss, with a second, important nod to my father and my sister, who always set a high bar.
What are your favorite spots near the TIFF offices to get away with colleagues? What about if you want some time to yourself?
I often crave RaviSoups steps away on Adelaide. For utter tranquility, I'll sometimes retreat to the Shangri-La lobby, which has the additional benefit of being right next to Momofuku's ramen.
You live in Parkdale. What are some of your favorite spots there?
We know our son is a West Queen West five year-old because he always asks to go to the Gladstone for brunch. My wife Carolynne and I also love Ali's Roti.
What are three Toronto locations that you absolutely can't live without?
Everything about Kensington Market. The long, luxurious stretch of Lakefront. King Palace for take-out Pakistani food.
You were raised partly in Barbados. Are there any spots in the city you enjoy going to in order to get authentic Caribbean food?
In addition to Ali's, it has to be Pat's Homestyle Jamaican, especially for the oxtail.
Coffee shop: I find the Dark Horse people always stay on the right side of coffee-snob parody.
Brunch: Bivy on Dundas West.
Restaurant to take someone from out of town: Union on Ossington.
Bar or pub: Rhum Corner on Dundas West, because it has all the rum.
Museum or Gallery: I still love the Power Plant, with its amazing director Gaetane Verna and its inspiring location on the water. Also, Scrap Metal Gallery, also in part for its location.
Bookstore: So few indies left. A Different Booklist on Bathurst is one I'd call essential.
Movie Theatre (aside from the Lightbox): The Royal.
Movie Rental Store: These days it's Mubi and Netflix. For DVDs, I love that The Film Buff serves up ice cream along with their movies.
Secret Toronto place you wish more people knew about: The Scarborough coastline.
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