First off I have to say that the TIFF Bell Lightbox cinemas are great. Peter Howell, film critic for the Toronto Star, said something like this when the complex first opened: "It's as though they've always been there."
In January of 2017 I made a point to attend a screening of various shorts produced by former members of The Funnel. "Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988" ran for one evening in Lightbox Cinema 4.
From February 9, 2017:
The Funnel Screened at TIFF Theatre 4
On Tuesday evening of last week I attended a screening dedicated to Toronto's The Funnel Experimental Film Theatre. Held in TIFF Theatre 4 and hosted by Mike Hoolboom and Chris Kennedy, "Underground: The Funnel Experimental Film Co-op 1977-1988" was a trip back for this former Funnel patron. My visits fell into the 1984/85 season. As expected my schooling began to take over and, I hate to admit, that was it for my twice-weekly streetcar rides to 507 King Street East.
The film lineup in Theatre 4:
Ville-quelle ville? (Midi Onodera / 1984 / 4 mins / Super 8 on digital)
DP2 (Peter Dudar / 2014 / 16 mins / digital)
The Iconography of Venus (Annette Mangaard / 1987 / 5 mins / 16mm)
Eye of the Mask [excerpt] (Judith Doyle / 1985 / 27 mins / 16mm)
Canada Mini-Notes (Jim Anderson / 1974 / 15 mins / 16mm)
Ville-quelle ville? and The Iconography of Venus, especially, sent me back to 1984/85. For one thing, there is something about the Kodachrome "look". Its rich colour palette and the translucency of a 'reversal' stock are perfect mates to an experimental filmmaker. I'm not suggesting that its favouring by experimentalists somehow implies that Kodachrome was born of imperfect imaging technologies -- far from it. I've shot lots of that emulsion myself: Exposed properly, it could produce an image of veritable gorgeousness. (Reversal looked best when exposed about 1/3 of a stop 'under'.)
In essential terms Midi Onodera's Ville-quelle ville? is about "memory", and because it was made over thirty years ago, it too is memory; perhaps more accurately, "memories". This very well could be why this film was my single favourite of the evening.
Yes, it's all about memories. Indeed.
We, my schoolmates and I who attended the Funnel screenings, were the cool guys hanging out with the cool crowd -- so we may have thought at the time. How did we hear about The Funnel? I don't remember specifically, but as I told Mike Hoolboom after he asked me this very question during a brief chat, it was probably a case of someone at the school (Humber College) telling us about an experimental film theatre downtown. Hearing this bit of fine intelligence no doubt would have been all we needed. When you're that age (young!) you are a sponge; ready to soak it all up. "Keep it coming!" is the mentality. It seems few subjects are of no use to the up-and-coming artist.
All good and experimental things must come to an end: The Funnel ran into financial difficulties and closed its doors in 1988.
After the pictures finished rolling at "Underground" a few of the filmmakers took to the stage to speak about their experiences at the co-op, in addition to making their films.
A bonus was the free copy of Mike Hoolboom's latest book, "Underground - the Untold Story of the Funnel Film Collective".