Last month we reported that the Bloor Cinema would be closing its doors for an “indeterminate amount of time.” Many feared that “indeterminate” meant “indefinite,” and that would spell the end for the venerable Annex rep house. Well fear not, faithful moviegoers, because it was revealed today that the Bloor will be reopening, following a massive renovation and re-branding.
Confirming half-a-week’s worth of Twitter speculation, it was announced earlier today that the Bloor has been acquired by Hot Docs and Blue Ice Film.
Hot Docs has been setting up shop at the Bloor for years, using it both as a hub for their annual documentary festival and for their monthly Doc Soup screenings. Blue Ice Film is a Toronto-based sales and acquisitions company that partnered with Hot Docs during this year’s festival to establish the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Film Fund with the goal of “provid[ing] financial support to independent documentary filmmakers based in developing African countries, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of social, cultural and political documentaries produced in the region” (according to a press release sent our way during Hot Docs 2011).
“We were attracted to the idea of having a permanent home for documentaries in the city, in Canada, and the world,” Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs managing director, told us today. The acquisition was only a few months in the making; Hendrie told us that Hot Docs just entered into serious talks with Carm and Paul Bordonaro, the cinema’s current operators, during this year’s Hot Docs International Film Festival. While the Bordonaros will be involved with the transition, their ties with the cinema will end when it re-opens. “They’ve done an amazing job at keeping the lights on,” said Hendrie, noting that they’ve had offers from other developers interested in the property, but resisted because of their desire to see the Bloor continue to operate as a cinema.
As far as programming at the revamped Bloor, Hendrie says the “primary focus will be documentaries.” This may be bad news for Bloor patrons eager to continue their regular monthly routine of Rocky Horror midnight shows and David Lynch double bills. But Hendrie notes that this new Bloor’s programming will not be exclusively dedicated to non-fiction. “We’re spending this summer figuring out programming for the next six months. All the things that made the Bloor a treasured favourite will still remain.”
Renovations-wise, Hendrie says that while the details are still being finalized, the Bloor will re-open with new seating, lighting, carpets, snack bar, and screen, as well as improvements to the exterior. Despite the massive overhaul, he expresses a desire to “keep the original charm of the building.” There are also plans to re-brand the cinema. While “Bloor Cinema” will remain somewhere in the name, “Hot Docs” will also be integrated. As for when, exactly, the New Bloor Ice Film Cinema and Hot Doccery will re-open, we still can’t give you anything better than “unclear,” though Hendrie says that they have scheduled a Doc Soup screening for early October.