It can be overwhelming trying to explore a city as lively and diverse as Toronto. There is so much to see and do (and eat!) that it’s hard to know where to start. Lucky for me, I’ve always had friends who lived in the city and could point me in the most delightful, delicious or entertaining directions. And lucky for you, I’ve decided to share some of their recommendations in a little series called Favourite Places with photos by my lovely and talented friend, Emma.
It seemed appropriate to kick things off with one of my oldest friends. Meagan (aka, Red) and I were both born in Toronto, and our families both moved out of the city when we were toddlers. We met on the first day of kindergarten, when my mom coaxed me into the classroom by saying “Look, you can sit beside that little girl with the red hair. She has a Minnie Mouse necklace.” Sold. Friends for life.
Just as she paved the way into that classroom 22 years ago, Meagan moved back to Toronto a couple of years ahead of me, becoming a talent agent for film and television and, conveniently for me, sussing out all of the coolest places to go. Knowing that I’d be living around the corner from one of my most hilarious, smartest, kindred spirit-est, very best friends made the move from rural Ontario far less daunting than it could have been.
Here’s what Meagan had to say when I asked her about the Tiff Bell Lightbox, her favourite place for watching talkies.
What is a lightbox?
I really have no clue! I was reading that there’s a thing called a light therapy box for seasonal affective disorder, and maybe I can think of it like that, because it really is a place you can go to shake the winter blues, or see people way more depressed than you up on the big screen. You’re like, “Oh, hey, there’s some perspective.”
How would you describe the place?
Well, you walk in, and you feel like you could be somewhere in New York. They really did a great job designing it. It feels world class. Bright and airy and a bit slick and cool.
Why is it a favourite for you?
Aside from being a ten minute walk from my office, it’s got fancy drinks and snacks, but also cheap popcorn. It also has about 17 different and entertaining things going on at any given time, from art exhibits to lectures to weird foreign films or popular Hollywood ones or sad indie ones. They also work a lot with the Canadian Film Centre, which has brought me there numerous times and I love that there are these two great film organizations that support each other.
What sets Lightbox apart from other cinemas?
There is a wide range of programming that surpasses other theatres or institutions in Toronto. They do great themes that allow you to really explore a certain aspect of cinema at any given time. I can check out the French New Wave or see the Oscar nominated animated shorts on the big screen or even Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff that normally I just watch alone on my laptop. It also attracts an amazing array of actors, producers, directors who give talks or interviews there. I’ve heard Juliette Lewis, Leslie Mann & Judd Apatow, Sebastian Junger, Jodie Foster, Gale Ann Hurd, among many others. You don’t really get that opportunity so often in one place here.
There you have it cinephiles! Ditch the $40 popcorn of ye olde Cineplex and check out the films and exhibits at the Tiff Bell Lightbox.