This is the forth installment of my TCAF like a local posts.
Like any city, Toronto has its own flavour. Besides comics and food, here are some things Toronto wins at and some places you might want to check out if visiting expensive tourist traps are not your thing.
The Toronto International Film Festival is the crown jewel of Toronto’s film, and cultural, scene. TIFF is one of the hottest film markets in the world and unlike other fests like Cannes, it remains easily accessible to an average, non-industry audience (well, if you can call their elabourate ticketing system “easy”). The TIFF Lightbox also offers cinematic excellence all year round with programming for all ages, themed talks, an exhibition space and a reference library.
Aside from TIFF, there are also multiple, successful indie film fests that are all over a decade strong that run throughout the year. If you arrived a little early, you can still catch the tail end of the HotDocs fest. The Jewish Film Festival screens at the same time as TCAF (and includes a couple comics related films). If you stay the following week, you can check out the long running InsideOut festival for LGBT films.
The city also enjoys a number of traditional rep cinemas and more experimental screening venues. Of these, none are as infamous as Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. A local legend of sorts, I actually think I just saw the man posting his ubiquitous flyers while walking downtown today. If you happen to see flyers about KID A and NOSTERAFU or LSD or VIOLENT CARTOONS and wondered about the Cineforum, it’s basically a small theatre in Hartt’s residence. In addition to the film, you also might get a little (or a fairly extended) lecture from Hartt. His talks, which may or may not be related to the film being screened, have been described as acerbic, ranty, scary, etc. but I’ve been twice and he seemed like a nice man to me. Granted, I enjoy keeping close company with philosophers and Classicists so I might be more inured to broody, eccentric lecturing than the average joe. Anyway, the man is a wealth of information about local history who name drops the likes of Jane Jacobs and John Kricfalusi (of Ren and Stimpy fame). More fun than a trip to the aquarium if you ask me.
Ethnic diversity isn’t the only kind of diversity Toronto celebrates. Toronto’s various sex communities are very active and low key in that no one gets their panties twisted in a knot over them – at least not in a sex-negative way (except the gender identity clinic over at CAMH which is now under review). Toronto hosts an annual Feminist Porn Awards (run by Good for Her), one of the largest Pride celebrations internationally, and Morpheous’ Bondage Extravaganza, the world’s largest rope bondage event that also happens to be free and open to the general public. And that’s just for starters.
For more in depth info, check out these Toronto Life articles – as skewed as they are – about our local (hetero) poly and bdsm scenes. If you want ask about various local establishments, do feel free to make inquiries at the Cute Juice Comics TCAF table and I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction – but don’t cockblock me on a sale, please.
Other great Toronto stuff
- Canada is newer to the craft beer game than the US, but having tasted my way across the American Midwest, I can say that Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery can hold its own against top American breweries. Great Lakes Brewery is also a good choice.
- If you’re here right now, you can catch any number of walking tours in honour of Jane Jacobs.
- The largest photography festival of its kind, the month-long CONTACT has free exhibits.
- While the National Ballet of Canada has never quite regained its starpower years when Karen Kain was principal dancer, the National Ballet School remains a world renowned institution that holds an annual student recital in mid-May if you’re into early talent spotting.
- Toronto has an active theatre circuit with many little companies. Right now, I can’t wait to check out Buddies in Bad Time’s Tom at the Farm, a play by one of my absolute favourite playwrights. [update: review has been posted]
- Also on my calendar, I’m hoping to score rush tickets to see Arnie Schoenberg at the COC.
- Aside from having a public library system with one of the highest circulation stats in the world, Toronto is also home to frequent TCAF partner, the Japan Foundation Toronto which has a very specialized library collection and is great for browsing manga. Don’t forget to check out the adjacent free gallery space which will be exhibiting gorgeous posters by the likes of designers like Tadanori Yokoo.
Otherwise, check out daily listings on Toronto Life, BlogTO and the Torontoist.
Next up: Talk like a local