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May 15, 2012
September 12, 2010 | Michael Phillips | Chicago Tribune
"The Toronto International Film Festival's long-awaited new "cathedral of cinema," as one TIFF programmer, Thom Powers, put it, opened its doors to the public Sunday. And it looked good. Very good.
The sooner this place becomes home base for North America's premier festival, the better it'll be for everyone's cinematic sake.
From the outside the Bell Lightbox feels slightly hemmed-in by its bustling Entertainment District neighborhood. It'll take time, usage and a few scuff marks to let it settle and become a natural part of things. But once you're through those doors just off the intersection of King and John streets, the project that took a recession-challenged 10 years to bring to fruition becomes an airy, clean-lined environment, half museum, half cinematheque. The light and space invite all sorts of exploration.
On opening day in Cinema 2 (very clearly labeled, with a big 2 over the entrance), I saw the world premiere of the ripely funny new Errol Morris documentary "Tabloid," a return to form for the man behind "The Thin Blue Line" and "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control." Three of the Lightbox's auditoriums are dedicated cinema venues; two more can be used as screening rooms as well as other purposes, bringing the total to five, or 1,300 seats overall.
Morris' latest stranger-than-fiction tale follows the improbable life and tabloid-worthy times of Joyce McKinney. Who is Joyce McKinney? Anne Thompson of indiewire.com put it well in her review of the film's Telluride festival premiere: She's a "see-through-blouse wearing North Carolina beauty-queen acting student turned S&M hooker with boobs out to here, an alleged 168 IQ, and such a yen for a Mormon boy (inexplicably, since he's built like the Pillsbury Doughboy) that she hunted him down with a gun on his Mormon mission, manacled him to a bed, opened his magic underwear" and…well, all this happened in the late 1970s. Then, 30 years later in a different tabloid era, McKinney found her way back into the spotlight for entirely different reasons.
Designed by Toronto's Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the Lightbox — representing a $200 million dollar burst of civic and cultural pride —anchors a 42-story mixed-use development known as Festival Tower. The land was donated by director Ivan Reitman and his family. So. This is a cathedral built on a foundation of "Meatballs" and "Ghostbusters."
More tomorrow on this sleek, spacious urban achievement, which gives film festivalgoers of Chicago, New York and L.A. (and everywhere in between) plenty of reasons to be envious."
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, September 12, 2010