Things in Toronto I wish were in Los Angeles include heavy snow flurries, pedestrians who leisurely stroll through red light intersections and drivers who do not honk, Smarties chocolate candy, and most of all, the National Film Board’s Mediatheque. Founded in 2002, the Mediatheque (150 John Street) is something like a cross between a theme park ride and a film archive. It’s situated in a heavily pedestrian area across the street from a Paramount multiplex and it’s open every day of the week.
I stopped by yesterday and reserved one of their many “personal viewing stations” in the lobby: space-age looking chairs with wrap around head speakers, a touch screen computer terminal, and a high definition widescreen monitor. I signed up at the front desk for an hour’s worth of time (apparently, you can sign up all day if you like), climbed into a station and repositioned the swivel touch screen, resisted the urge to say “Kirk to Scotty,” and began browsing the hundreds of documentaries, short films, and animation digitally stored in the system. Beside me, a large group of school children were watching Ryan Larkin’s Walking (1968) and taking notes. I dialed up Arthur Lipsett’s magnificent, 9 minute-33 second 21-87 (1964) and watched it four times in a row.
Visitors to Toronto shouldn’t miss this wonderful community resource. Los Angeles, please take note.