July 16, 2007

The Isabel Bader

This might sound odd, but the Isabel Bader Theatre is the one TIFF venue where I have on occasion felt underdressed -- and I mean that as a compliment. Evening screenings there, especially during weekends, feel more like social events than run-of-the-mill movies at a multiplex. The building, located on the campus of Victoria University, opened in 2001 and features plush seating, a small balcony, and especially good acoustics. My one complaint with the Bader is its sight lines, which can be frustrating during heavily-subtitled films.

The Bader is on Charles Street, one block south of Bloor, making it a quick walk from other north-end venues like The Varsity and The Cumberland. (Something to keep in mind on those five-film days.) Eat before you get there -- Charles is a quiet, tree-lined street. More than once I've grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor (there are a ton of 'em on University) and found a comfortable place in line outside of the Bader.

Two of my favorite TIFF experiences were at the Bader. In 2004, I saw the premiere of Moolade there. Because the film got off to a late start and ran longer than expected, there was no time for a post-screening Q&A. Instead, Ousmane Sembene invited everyone to join him outside in the courtyard, where he took a seat, lit his pipe, and chatted about what would prove, sadly, to be his last film. The next night I returned for the premiere of L'Intrus, which frustrated me to the point of exhaustion. When Claire Denis took the stage afterwards, she was haggard from jetlag and lacked the energy (or will) to fight through the stream of poor, meandering questions that too often plague Q&As. L'Intrus is my favorite TIFF film, though, because it revealed to me how essential conversation is to the festival experience. By the time I flew home -- after talking and talking and talking about Denis's film with Girish and others -- I'd completely reevaluated my original response and was eager to spend the next few months watching and rewatching all of her films.

Subway Stop: Museum
Rush & Ticket-Holder Lines: Form outside of the theater along Charles Street

[ View Larger Map ]


IdentityCafe said...

great blog...

Looking forward to this year's TIFF!
(sometimes i think the only good thing about Buffalo is its proximity to Toronto)
I had to watch L'intrus three times to get the complete feel of it...haunting...


Maya said...

Wonderful reminisces, Darren. I envy you so much your opportunity to spend time with Sembene. I can't say that L'Intrus was my favorite film, though it certainly seared images into my brain, especially the white dogs chasing after the master who has abandoned them. If ever there was an image of the heart being torn apart; that was it.

j robert said...

I agree completely with Darren's assessment of the IB. In fact, I always "promote" a movie in my rankings if it's going to be screened there, despite the somewhat tenuous sight lines.

One thing I've learned over the years is that certain rows are better than others as far as that goes. So you want to look carefully before you sit down and see if one row is especially higher than the row in front of it or not high enough. I've never sat down front at the IB, as it feels like it might be too close. But maybe not.

My least favorite memory at the Bader involved Joe Apichatpong's Tropical Malady. The projectionist made the critical mistake of leaving on the digital projector (which was used to project the pre-film "announcements"). But leaving the projector on meant that a blue tinge was layered over the film. This was especially problematic in the movie's dark scenes, of which there are many, because it made them feel washed out and not as dark as it should've been. Ah well--I still loved the film.