2010 Hero: The TIFF Bell Lightbox
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2010 Hero: The TIFF Bell Lightbox

Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—Toronto’s very best and very worst people, places, and things over the past twelve months. From December 13–17: the Villains! From December 20–24, the Heroes! And, from December 27–30, you can vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

It’s only been open for a few months, but it’s safe to say Toronto’s newest cinema has already left its glowing mark. Ten years in the making, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, now home to the Toronto International Film Festival, drew back its red curtains for the public on September 12 with free screenings and a block party.
A glass-lined, open-concept piece of artwork itself, featuring a three-storey atrium, the Lightbox was designed by architecture firm KPMB. Since the ribbon-cutting, this modern-but-unpretentious venue on the corner of King and John streets has been lighting up its five silver screens with undisputed classics and contemporary gems.
Beginning this fall, the film house focused its programming on Essential Cinema, selecting the hundred most important films of all time. Ranging from Metropolis and Citizen Kane to Taxi Driver and Blue Velvet, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a plethora of movie must-sees anywhere else in the city.
And it’s not just about what’s unfolding on-screen. Isabella Rossellini was on hand for the screening of Blue Velvet and her parents’ flick Voyage in Italy. Toronto rockers Do Make Say Think lent their live musical talents to the silent film Greed. David Cronenberg was there to kick off his 1983 thriller Videodrome. The Lightbox is also the only place you’ll get to see Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70 mm, and then hear about that legendary LSD trip from the iconic film’s special effects guy.
And if you wanted to (although why would you?), you could skip the movies, and dine at one of the Lightbox’s Oliver + Bonacini restaurants, explore its two galleries and three learning studios, or check out its latest attraction, the MoMA-acquired Tim Burton exhibit. A creepy inflatable balloon boy currently greets visitors at the entrance. (Tim Burton himself made an appearance at the opening last month.)
The Lightbox isn’t just a movie theatre; it’s a complete homage to the art of film. Roger Ebert, the film critic of all film critics, called it “superb,” and he wasn’t kidding.