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
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