Having recently embraced shut-in-ism, I haven’t sallied forth to the Festival Cinemas in a while, so I feel rather guilty hearing the announcement of their demise. I’ve visited every one of the theatres – some shambling, some faded golden-age beauties – and have some terrific memories attached to them. A trip to the Kingsway was the excuse I used to first meet, in person, the guy who is now my best friend. You could always count on seeing some intriguing or off-beat flicks; the many, many movies I saw with my University pals have gone a long way to making up my frame of reference, and are the basis for my utter disdain of Hollywood blockbuster tripe. Without the Festivals, i would likely never have seen Delicatessen, Spike & Mike’s animation fests, or Meet the Feebles (actually, I wonder if I still have time to demand my money back on that last one…) And it was always a blast to see older classics on the big screen – Casablanca and Raiders of the Lost Ark were two big highlights. I think one last night out at the movies is in order, before the remaining houses close. It’ll be a token gesture, though – I owe the Festival Cinemas far more than the $6 admission charge could ever cover.

If we had $6 for every time we sang the praises of Toronto’s neighbourhood movie houses, well, we’d give the lot of it to Festival Cinemas. Sadly, such 11th-hour goodwill won’t cover the cost of keeping Toronto’s cherished repertory theatre chain open: the Festival Group announced last week that it’ll shut down operations at its Royal, Revue and Kingsway theatres at the end of June (at press time, we learned that fellow Festival theatre The Paradise will also shut down; the fate of The Fox has yet to be determined).

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