In the golden days of cinema, Hamilton was home to over twenty motion picture theatres, each changing names and owners over the years. Some say the very first 'talkie' in Canada played at The Tivoli. It may have been the third; no one knows for sure. It's hard to imagine a cinematic landscape like this in Hamilton. The historic theatres are lost and long gone. And lets not forget the vaudeville and burlesque houses that stood before them. Today only one single-screen movie house stands in Westdale. My dad's family grew up in the north end of the city. In his day a trip to the theatre was a special outing and a family affair. I can imagine my grandmother, Stella, dressed to the nines and walking her children over to the local moviehouse. It would have been a luxury.
For me, going to the movies was a rite of passage from child to adolescent. The cinema at Fiesta Mall was a short walk from the neighbourhood I grew up in. It was built on the former location of the Skyway Drive-In. When I was twelve and thirteen it was a place where friends from all the neighbouring schools met on Friday nights. It was a place that let us push curfew. It was a place for first dates. And on Tuesdays, it was just two dollars to see a film. In my first year of high school the theatre was torn down. Maybe its these sentimental associations that make me nostalgic for the past. Maybe its my European roots, and the love of theatre and cinema that was passed down to me. But I long for the grandeur of the movie palace and the era when a night at the pictures was a big deal.
With technology came the television, the VCR, the multiplex, the DVD, YouTube, Boxee. The way we view entertainment has changed. And each of us contribute to this. But I can't imagine any of these forms of entertainment captivate the imagination or provide the same social experience the way seeing a film at a movie palace did. This photo of the audience at the Lyric Theatre gives me chills. Years back, I took a bus down to The AGH to watch a screening of Blow-Up. It was part of their film series. Linda Lewis, co-founder of the Design Exchange led a discussion following the film. I was charmed by the experience. I loved that going to see a flick was again an event in the city. I loved being surrounded by people who shared the same enthusiasm. Since then I have frequented many of the films screened as part of The AGH i♥filmseries. And several have left quite an impression on me: Monsieur Lazhar, Incendies, Waste Land, Another Earth and Beginners. It's one of my favourite things to do, along with attending the annual film festival the gallery has put on, now in its fourth year. Through these programs I've had the chance to see films that would otherwise not screen in the city. And that experience feels special to me.
This year the AGH BMO World Film Festival is happening from September 21 - 30. In the festival programme, Louise Dompierre remarks, "We believe that film is the most accessible visual art form: it touches us, transports us to another time and place, challenges us, astonishes, provokes and inspires." I hope you'll enjoy and be inspired by the many films and special events happening this year as part of the festival. We'd love to hear what films you are looking forward to seeing. Take a look at this year's film programme. Watch the film trailers and purchase your tickets here! On September 30, Jacklyn and I are honoured to be co-presenting the closing night celebration at the Cinema Hamilton Incite Awards. These awards recognize the Hamilton film community and indie film festivals in the city. You can vote for your favourite local films and filmmakers here. We hope to see you at the Cinema Hamilton Incite Awards. Be sure to say hi if you see us!