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TIFF Lays the Groundwork for “The Cronenberg Project”

Long live the new flesh: a major exhibition of Canada's best-regarded filmmaker is almost upon us.

David Cronenberg shows off his new POD, Frisky  Photo by Kayla Rocca

David Cronenberg shows off his new POD, Frisky. Photo by Kayla Rocca.

The David Cronenberg Project
TIFF Bell Lightbox (250 King Street West)
November 1, 2013 to January 19, 2014

Director David Cronenberg took the stage at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning to give a taste of “The Cronenberg Project,” the upcoming multi-platform exhibition of his work.

The centrepiece of The Cronenberg Project is “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” TIFF’s first major original exhibition. Co-curated by TIFF CEO Piers Handling and Lightbox artistic director Noah Cowan, the exhibition focuses on both the thematic shifts within Cronenberg’s large body of work over time, and his parallel interest in human evolution. Slated to be the Festival’s first traveling show, the exhibition will house all manner of props, costumes, and drawings, including the mutant Clark Nova typewriter from Naked Lunch—which rated its own spot at the table at the press conference.

This chronological approach extends to a full retrospective entitled “From Within: The Films of David Cronenberg.” Handling and Cowan have divided Cronenberg’s filmography into three major phases: his early preoccupation with father figures and origin points (the little-seen Crimes of the Future); his most celebrated middle films about bodily experimentation (Videodrome, The Fly); and finally his more recent work (from Spider) on the awkward social dynamics between outsider figures and their wider environments. The retrospective, which includes screenings of a number of newly restored 35 mm prints and digital restorations, will also feature a number of special guests, including Cronenberg himself.

In conjunction with the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, TIFF is also presenting something called Body/Mind/Change, which they’re calling a “digital extension” of the exhibition. The multi-media production, conceived by Lance Weiler, aims to fully immerse its participants in the experience of a Cronenberg film. We’re not too sure what that means, but it seems to be something of a virtual role-playing game not unlike the subject of eXistenZ, complete with a controller called a POD, a mouse-like contraption that the director waved to the audience. (Cronenberg’s POD is named Frisky. He is holding it in that photo up above.)

“The Cronenberg Project,” which will also include two new volumes and an art exhibit at the MOCCA, is the fulfillment of a long collaboration between the curators and filmmaker. Cowan mentioned that it’s been in development as long as the Lightbox itself, and said Cronenberg was the first filmmaker TIFF approached about exhibiting once they conceived of a permanent home for the Festival. “Let us be your garbage can,” Cowan asked, and Cronenberg was all too happy to oblige, calling TIFF the site of his personal and professional roots.

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