About Festival Tower. Art and film brought together in new tower for Toronto.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) opened last month in a new location down the road from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Bridging the divide between art and film, the 153,000 sq. ft TIFF Bell Lightbox includes two galleries and five cinemas. One of the first exhibitions to be held in the new premises will be “Tim Burton”, opening 26 November. The exhibition, consisting of drawings, paintings, storyboards and puppets from the director's body of work, drew more than 800,000 visitors when it opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York last November.

The building, which cost C$140m to build, was designed by Toronto architectural firm, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB), who also designed the National Ballet School of Canada, the Gardiner Museum and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. TIFF raised another C$50m for endowment.

The Lightbox, which also contains restaurants, workshops, offices and sleek Toronto condos, was conceived as a complex to house all its individual parts. A sleek 42-floor apartment tower rises above the cinemas and exhibition spaces and an outdoor staircase doubles as an amphitheatre inspired by the Casa Malaparte, a house built on the edge of a cliff on the island of Capri around 1937.

In September the Lightbox hosted the world premiere of “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, Werner Herzog’s 3-D documentary descent into the Chauvet caves of southern France that contain charcoal drawings of animals dating back more than 30,000 years.

A retrospective of work by Julian Schnabel, entitled “Julien Schnabel: Art and Film”, which opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario last month (until 2 January 2011), coincided with the North American premiere of Schnabel’s new film, “Miral”, at TIFF.

The Lightbox’s programme will focus on “as broad a swathe of cinema as possible,” said Noah Cowan, the artistic director of Lightbox, “everything from artistically minded Hollywood films to the most difficult avant garde work.”

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