Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tour of the Film Reference Library at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of the Toronto International Film Festival has called the Film Reference Library (FRL) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox "a destination for the study and appreciation of film ... devoted to the preservation of Canada’s cinematic history."

On January 25, CLA-CASLIS Toronto offered a glimpse of this history with a behind-the-scenes library tour presented by Eve Goldin, FRL Senior Manager, who has worked with this impressive collection for nearly 20 years.

The FRL stacks ... books, posters, movies and scrapbooks. (Torontoist photo)

The evening began with a chance to view "Mary Pickford and the Invention of the Movie Star" a display of memorabilia about the silent film star, who was born in Toronto, but achieved success and fame in the early days of Hollywood. The library's Pickford materials were donated by Mississauga collector Rob Brooks who had amassed a house full of items focusing on America's sweetheart.

Every item in the collection must have an emphasis on film. Many are donated, not only by collectors like Brooks, but also by film directors such as Canadians David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan, who have provided, among other items, personal papers, film production files, press kits and movie props.

Because of these donations and the Canadian-centric mandate of the library, the collection has many one-of-a-kind items of importance to Canadian film. One very unique item included is a grizzly-proof suit used in the 1996 National Film Board documentary Project Grizzly.

An appointment is required to view these one-of-a-kind items, but the public has regular access to the the library's general collection of thousands of Canadian and international books, DVDs, tapes (both VHS and Betamax), and laserdiscs. All video materials are viewable in-house (and only in-house) in private viewing booths.

Not only were we able to view the wonderful items in the library's collection, but unique areas of the Lightbox were also showcased, including the orange "master control" box where all of the building's screens are monitored and the Canadian Film Gallery, which currently houses the Pickford exhibit and Home, a permanent display of archaeological artifacts discovered at King and John Sts. during the construction of the building.

The evening was capped off with a chance to eat, drink and discuss the tour at Gabby's on King St.

If you get the chance to visit the TIFF Bell Lightbox, make sure your visit includes a trip to the library ... a great (and free!) resource for Torontonians.

Astrid Lange
CLA-CASLIS Listserv and Publicity Coordinator

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