After being shut down by its former owners in 2006, Toronto’s historic Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Ave.) reopens today after a 16-month campaign to save, then transform, the storied theatre into a hub of community entertainment and education.
Local residents Danny and Letty Mullin, became instant community heroes in June when they stepped up to buy the repertory theatre and agreed to lease it to the Film Society. Successful fundraising drives last year, and again this summer, have provided the Society with sufficient funds to meet short-term working capital requirements, spruce up the theatre and establish contracts with film distributors.
“The revitalized Revue embodies the community spirit of the people and businesses that donated time, money and energy to keep it alive,” says Revue Film Society founder Susan Flanagan. “Now, it will be up to the larger Toronto community to shape its future by supporting it not only as a classic movie house, but as an arts and educational facility.”
Tickets are on sale for the yet-to-be announced inaugural movie, chosen by an online audience poll from a list of classics such as <em>Casablanca</em> and <em>The Graduate</em>. The theatre has only 240 seats, so to ensure everyone gets in on the celebration, a TIFF-style “after party” will be held at the nearby Lithuanian Hall (1573 Bloor Street W.) with doors opening at 8 pm.
Several Toronto acts will provide live music, and local restaurant The Silver Spoon is donating catering services to the licensed event. Tickets are $20 for the movie and after party or $10 for the party alone. For ticket availability information, visit <a href="http://www.revuecinema.ca">revuecinema.ca</a>.
Despite the dismal outlook for small cinemas in a world of multiplexes, DVDs and home theatres, members of the Revue Film Society (RFS) are convinced the Revue will survive and thrive, given its community roots, a new business model and responsive programming.
To supplement the second-run films, special film series, and foreign and local productions, Flanagan says the RFS, a not-for-profit group formed after the theatre closed in June 2006, is working on innovative programming to focus on student, seniors, parents with kids and other groups in the community. The small size of the theatre makes it affordable to rent for artists and independent filmmakers. And, of course, there will be midnight madness shows for night owls, and special film series for cineastes of offbeat fare.
“We really want this to become a local institution, a neighbourhood centre that the community visits on a regular basis ” says Terry Burrell, a member of the Society’s Board. “As a not-for-profit, all of our money will be used to pay staff and expenses, improve the facility, enrich the film experience, as well as support new programs.”
A strong volunteer base will continue to support the theatre’s vision – providing everything from renovation expertise to marketing support, as well as planning such things as long-term renovations to the 95-year-old building. Built in 1912, the building features classical Edwardian details typical of the World War I era. The Toronto Preservation Board last year recommended the Revue be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for its cultural heritage value or interest.
“We’re seeking advice from a restoration architect on what to do about the marquee since many people see it as a distinct icon of the theatre,” says Burrell. “In the nearer term we are hoping to renovate the lobby to make better use of existing space and create a sense of the theater’s historical past.”
<font size=1>Source: Revue Film Society</font>