Free screenings are big in the summer - NOW's Norman Wilner hosts the Harbourfront Free Flicks series in July and August - but not so much during the cold season.
If you're looking for no-cost entertainment on a daily or weekly basis, your best bet is probably checking out DVDs from the library.
Actually, the various branches of the Toronto Public Library (torontopubliclibrary.ca) do offer some no-cost screenings. February 11 at Jane and Dundas, Green 13 presents Rob Stewart's documentary Revolution at 6:15 pm, followed by a discussion. February 15 at 2:30 pm, Cedarbrae marks Black History Month with a 2:30 pm showing of Lee Daniels' The Butler. March 20 at Fairview, The Boxing Girls Of Kabul screens at 6 pm.
A number of branches have March Break movies scheduled for 2 pm on March 14 (titles to be announced, but sure to be family-friendly). You can also search "film club" at torontopubliclibrary.ca to see if your local branch has one.
Harbourfront's Kuumba festival has a substantial film component built around the theme of black identity. Sudz Sutherland's Home Again and Hubert Davis's Invisible City screen February 7 at 8 pm and 10:30 pm respectively, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's Soundtrack For A Revolution plays February 8 at 2 pm, and two programs of short films screen February 9 at 1 pm and 2:30 pm.
If you're after a more esoteric experience, TIFF Cinematheque's monthly Free Screen offers programming audiences won't see anywhere else. On February 18, 6:30 pm, the series leaps into the avant-garde with Tempo Não Para (Time Doesn't Stop), a selection of film and video works that address the concept of chronology. And Canadian filmmaker David Rimmer is celebrated with a two-night retrospective March 22 and 23 at 7 pm, with Rimmer present for post-screening discussions.
And once again, TIFF throws the Lightbox doors open in March for Bell Free Weekend: on March 15 and 16, all regular programming in the building is free of charge, along with special workshops and family-oriented screenings, courtesy of the aforementioned telecommunications corporation. Check tiff.net for further details next month.
And of course there's always the lure of advance screenings of brand-new studio releases. NOW frequently partners with distributors to offer promotional passes, so keep an eye out for those in these pages.