Established in 1948, the Toronto Film Society is one of Canada’s oldest film appreciation groups. Originally founded to feed the thirst for non-mainstream or commercial films – whether international, independent, banned or forgotten- the Toronto Film Society has adapted and evolved with the time to remain a vital organization. We are now dedicated to the presentation of classic film. Across three screening series, two seminars, and many special events we screen films ranging from the early 1920’s all the way up to the early 1970’s. We feature genre’s ranging from comedy to drama, and styles from film-noir to musicals. With so many classic films now readily available for home viewing, our programming focuses not on rarity but on curation and context, making our presentations a special treat to the true film buffs of the city.
In 1934 the National Film Society in Ottawa was founded, prompting many other film appreciation societies to spring up in cities all over Canada. Unfortunately, almost all of these early branches were suspended at the start of WWII.
Then in 1948, Dorothy and Oscar Burritt and a group of dedicated film enthusiasts established the Toronto Film Study Group, eventually to become the Toronto Film Society. The new TFSG launched with a Summer series of screenings in the studios of Panda Photography at 321 Church Street, a converted coach house. The first regular season of the TFSG opened October 25th, 1948 at the Royal Ontario Museum Theatre with a screening of Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, double billed with the 1946 documentary Cyprus Is An Island.
In 1950, the TFSG was incorporated by Ontario Letters Patent as a non-profit, educational, and cultural association “for the study and appreciation of film as an art” and officially renamed the Toronto Film Society. The founding board of directors consisted of Gerald Pratley (President), Roy Clifton, Donald Smith, Philip Budd, Moira Armour, Dorothy Burritt, Sterling Campbell, Peter Engering, George Patterson, Benedetto Viccari and Nola Holdaway.
In 1948 the only way to see a film was in a movie theatre and film societies served the need to find archival prints and rare films that were inaccessible to the general public. Of course, with the advent of home theatre and cable channels dedicated solely to movies, that need has changed and evolved.
At the Toronto Film Society, we believe movies are best seen with like-minded film buffs. We believe comedies are funnier in a crowded theater and musicals are more impressive on the big screen. We believe sharing the experience of films with others trumps the experience of watching at home every time.
Today the Toronto Film Society is dedicated to celebrating cinema and to enhancing awareness and understanding of the art of film among Toronto’s broad and diverse film going audience. We invite film lovers of all ages to join us in watching, enjoying, and learning more about classic films.
Norman Jewison, C.C.
Caren Feldman, President
Hanna Miller, Vice President
Arnold Miller, Treasurer
David Burgess, Secretary
Barry Chapman, Programming
Terri Lipton, Membership & Mailing
Frances Blau, Series Film Notes
Angela Burgess, House Manager & May Weekend
Catherine Howard, Advertising & Sponsorship
Graham Petrie, Scholar in Residence
Monita Sen, Media Liaison & Social Media Coordinator