Egoyan's Camera fades to black
Filmmaker Atom Egoyan has given up creative control of cinema-lounge the Camera Bar, where he’d hoped to offer a first-rate moviegoing experience in a small theatre. Sparse crowds are being blamed for the decision to hand over operations to the next-door Stephen Bulger Gallery barely two years after the 50-seat, single-screen Camera Bar opened on Queen West where Peacock’s Hardware once stood.
“We were finding that the films we wanted to play weren’t the ones attracting a big enough audience on a consistent basis to justify it,” says Egoyan’s partner, Mongrel Media president Hussain Amarshi.
Inspired by venues like Montreal’s famous Cinema Parallel and ICA in London, Camera Bar failed to attract a clientele that would arrive early to enjoy the food. Liquor laws prevented people from bringing their drinks into the theatre. And, because there wasn’t a lot of space for mingling, most folks took off immediately after screenings.
Gallery prez Stephen Bulger, whose plans include renting the space for private functions, artist talks or film festivals, says the bar’s unfortunate turn “has a lot to do with [the fact that] movie houses make most of their money off concessions. Camera wasn’t offering popcorn and pop, [and] that’s not the way people think about movies.”
Egoyan is out of town and could not be reached for comment. Still, it’s not the final cut for Camera’s owners. Egoyan and Amarshi still own the building and will be offering free programming Saturday afternoons between 1 and 3.
Says Amarshi, “Our intent was to have it open every day showing films to the general public, but we may have been ahead of our time.”
Watson no Sherlock on homeless
Councillor Sylvia Watson’s crimefighting efforts in Parkdale may be getting positive reviews from local homeowners, but to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) they smell like just another roundup of poor and homeless people.
The group has plastered Photoshopped posters of Watson in police uniform on garbage bins and street lamps along Queen West, King West and Jameson in response to a cleanup initiative involving the police’s Guns and Gangs Task Force.
OCAP member Kolin Davidson, who’s also the designer of the poster, says the initiative isn’t really dealing with guns and violence at all. “It’s just hitting the people who are poor and out in the neighbourhood all the time.”
Watson counters that “the only people I’m interested in pushing out are the criminals. The purpose is to create community safety.”
Why then, asks Davidson, have the police been “going around and getting some of the small drinking holes closed down?
“They’re not addressing poverty; they’re addressing the symptoms of poverty,” he says.
Watson says she finds it troubling that OCAP believes leaving seedy bars and suspected drug hubs alone is somehow helping impoverished residents. “It’s an insult to poor people to say they need crime to find an affordable place to live,” she says. As for the posters, Watson says she wasn’t offended. But someone must have been. Within a couple of days they’d all been removed.
Bike lane plan catches wind
It’s not heaven on wheels, but it’s a start: Toronto and East York Community Council voted Tuesday, April 4, to approve bike lanes on both sides of Harbord between Ossington and Grace, and on the east side of a short stretch of Logan between Eastern and Lakeshore.
“Cyclists are rightly frustrated that plans to develop the Bike Network seem to be progressing slowly,” says Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Pantalone. “This doesn’t quite do the job, but at least it moves us in the right direction.”
Pantalone also mentions future plans for a lane on Strachan from Lakeshore to Liberty Village.
The bike lane plan, which still has to be approved by council, will cost $30,000 and eat up 31 parking spaces on Harbord, including 18 overnight spaces. And here’s where the friction lies – polls of area residents still need to be completed before final approval can be given.
In the east end, three overnight parking spaces will have to be sacrificed for what will be the city’s shortest bike lane.
But if all goes well at council later this month, cyclists could be pedalling on the new lanes as early as this summer.