TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Peek inside TIFF’s new home, the Bell Lightbox
“Why are we here?” a young child asks his mother inside the freshly opened Bell Lightbox. What a poignant question. We had been here at the TIFF Bell Lightbox opening party since 11 a.m., wondering the same thing. Certainly, it wasn’t to see film celebrities—the Reitmans, after whom this part of town is now named, attended the ribbon cutting—and it wasn’t to see TIFF volunteers blowing bubbles with impunity outside, or the striking Hyatt employees playing drums on overturned buckets. What about the Taste of the Danforth–esque food tents on King Street? The too Canadian music lineup that included The Sadies and K’naan? The bouncy castle that we were, unfortunately, too tall to enjoy? No, no, no.
“It’s a new building,” the mother answered, “and we’re here to see what it’s like.” Ah, yes. The Bell Lightbox. Here is what it’s like.
The organizers’ admission policy was inclusive. Vagrants and waves of university frosh were wandering around the sleek space as we were, looking for something interesting, like Atom Egoyan’s 8 ½ Screens video installation: a projector stood at the front of a screening room, and images of Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ played on several white sheets. Guy Maddin’s installation Hauntings I and II offered a campy, cheeky taste of the ghouls and spooks of forgotten old films. Elsewhere, loops of video montages paid tribute to cinema classics, and in one room, video-free sound collages had everyone wondering when the screening was going to begin. The two new restaurants—O&B Canteen and Luma, both by Oliver and Bonacini—have a wide-open, friendly air about them, and are both welcome additions to a culinarily troubled strip of King West.
As for the building itself, one crowd member summed it up succinctly: “It’s cool. It’s very modern.” Yes, the new Lightbox is cool, but probably not as earth shattering as Bell would have us believe. It is best described as serviceable and navigable. Perfect for housing the large crowds of TIFF and for keeping festival organizers’ (whose offices are housed upstairs) focus where it should be: on the movies.