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World’s First Large-Scale, Documentary-Only Cinema Opens in Toronto
March 15, 2012
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Bloor Cinema, a Toronto movie theatre that has seen life as both a repertory cinema and a second-run theatre, reopened last night as the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. The movie house will now exclusively run non-fiction documentary films, and serve as the official home of the annual Hot Docs festival. This documentary-only approach is very rare in the cinema world: according to Hot Docs director Chris McDonald, "there is one [docs-only theatre] in Zagreb, Croatia, and I'm sure their programming is excellent, but it has 14 seats". The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema includes seating for 700.

The Bloor shut down several months ago for renovations - including the installation of a larger screen and new digital projection equipment and Dolby digital sound, rehabilitation of the existing 35-millimetre projectors, and improved seating. Tomorrow, regular documentary programming will commence, starting with a showing of 'Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey'.

Last night's reopening event featured a screening of the documentary 'Big Boys Gone Bananas!*' from Canadian producer Bart Simpson. The film details the legal and media reaction to a 2009 doc called 'Bananas!*', which told the story of a group of Nicaraguan banana workers who successfully sued the Dole Food Company for allegedly exposing them to pesticides on its plantations.

The doc examines the role of corporate spin and how Dole's lobbying influenced reporting on the original documentary. Two members of the Canadian media are featured in the film: two CTV news reporters have an exchange in which they refer to the film's director, Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten, as "'an artiste' who wouldn't let truth stand in the way of a good story".

The trailer for the film is below:

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