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Groundbreaking Ceremony for Bell Festival Centre Celebrates Landmark Occasion for TIFFG
April 23, 2007
The Toronto International Festival Group celebrated the commencement of the construction of its new home, the Bell Festival Centre, with an official ground breaking ceremony co-presented with the King and John Festival Corporation (KJFC). The ceremony is a milestone in a long journey to realize a home for the internationally renown Toronto International Film Festival Group. KPMB has been the architect for the project since the firm won the competition, under the direction of Bruce Kuwabara, in September 2003.

Bruce Kuwabara was one of the speakers at the ceremony, along with Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFFG, Allen Karp,Chair of TIFFG; Paul Atkinson, Vice Chair/Chair Elect of TIFFG, Michael Sabia, President and CEO of Bell Canada Enterprises, The Honorable Bev Oda, Minister of Heritage and Culture and the Status of Women, The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, Tom Dutton, Senior VP of The Daniels Corporation and partner of KJFC, Ivan Reitman, partner of KJFC and filmmaker, Atom Egoyan, filmmaker, and Deepa Mehta, filmmaker.

The entire KPMB team for the project attended the ceremony, including Shirley Blumberg (partner-in-charge), Luigi LaRocca (associate), Matthew Wilson (project architect), Matthew Krivosudsky, Thom Seto, Krista Clark and Jill Greaves.

For more information from TIFFG please see

Bruce Kuwabara remarks:


When I was studying architecture at the University of Toronto, one of my professors showed us a slide of a moon gazing platform at Katsura Imperial Villa in Japan. He described how this simple yet elegant platform is an agent for affairs with the moon.

Architecture is an agent for our affairs with life, work, and pleasure.

The Bell Festival Centre, the new home for the Toronto International Film Festival Group, is an agent for our affairs with film.

The design creates a city of film within a city that loves film: metropolitan, complex and bold, it is commanding on its urban site at King and John, the intersection of Toronto’s theatre district and media corridor.

The interior is conceived as a robust, super loft which contains a series of platforms for the presentation, study and discussion of film.

The theatres are expressed inside and out as independent buildings --- temples for the experience and debate of film. The reference library and archive, multipurpose meeting/classrooms, and an exhibition gallery provide rooms for study, research and display. The ground floor, with its lobby, retail shop, ticket booth and café, creates lively indoor town square. The upper levels will provide supportive work spaces in the form of light-filled loft studios for the heart and soul of TIFFG – its staff and volunteers.

The sculpted rooftop culminates the fusion of architecture and film - formally it references the Villa Malaparte in Capri, the set for Jean Luc Godard’s film “Contempt”. This urban plateau will be both an oasis in the downtown and a high demand event space for outdoor screenings and parties.

The building will be a home base for TIFFG in all of its dimensions: a sustainable platform which will enable it to grow and evolve its programs, to create an international epicentre of film culture where people will not only watch great films, but where they will debate and examine the art and evolution of the moving image.

The Bell Festival Centre will be chameleon-like - pulsating with life and changing from day to night through a complex play of light, shadows and movement synchronized with TIFFG’s inspiring programming, from season to season, from festival to festival.

It takes a great team to make great architecture. Shirley Blumberg, one of my partners; and Matthew Wilson, our project architect, and the entire team of architects, engineers, project managers, special consultants, and builders are giving this project the creativity and care it needs to achieve excellence, and to realize TIFFG’s dreams and objectives.


I measure the life of this project relative to my son, Thomas, who was born the day before the first press conference in September 2003.

I dreamed of getting him, and now, his sister, Vita, into Sprockets, the extraordinary film program TIFFG runs for children.

Just over a week ago, my wife, Victoria, and I took our children to this year’s Sprockets screening of Azur and Asmar. It was one of the most beautiful and exquisitely crafted films I have ever seen, and the first large format film that our children have experienced: the first of many that as future film lovers they will look forward to.

We need to fall in love with Toronto in a new way, in a way that celebrates the arts in all of their diversity and richness. In the midst of this extraordinary cultural renaissance, projects such as the new home for TIFFG will not only transform the way the city looks, but they must create the momentum we need to grow communities for culture, cultivate and support new talent, and continuously inspire and showcase innovation and imagination.

I look forward to seeing you at the opening of the Bell Festival Centre.