In an interesting pre-festival event, I took part in a free tour of the film reference library today.
According to it’s website “the Film Reference Library, with more than 17,000 book titles and 60,000 film files, holds the world’s most extensive English language collection of Canadian film-related material plus the unique archival collections of Canada’s most esteemed filmmakers”.
The Film Reference Library is currently in a very small area, with only one room open to the public (that should change when the new Festival Centre opens in a few years time).
The tour started in the public area of the Reference Library, which includes many film periodicals (from Entertainment Weekly to Variety), computers to search databases, and a screening area that supports pretty much every video format known to man (including Betamax).
The tour moved into the archives, which is generally not open to the public (you would normally have to get a staff member to get something for you).
The first thing we saw in the archives were folders and boxes on shelves that contained various film documents, such as production photos, production notes, and other materials (most of the materials we were shown was from Gone With the Wind, which included some booklets that people received back in the 30s). Part of the plan with the new building is to display these materials in a gallery.
After taking a look at some more shelves with various film books, we were shown many huge filing cabinets, which stores, director, Atom Egoyan’s personal documents (notes, journals, etc) since age 15. An interesting thing about this, is that Egoyan’s permission is need before anyone (even a staff member) is allowed to touch the documents.
In the back of the archives, we saw various movie props that were donated by David Cronenberg, such as a helmet from Videodrome or a dress from M. Butterfly. We also saw some samples from the large collection of movie posters.
Overall, the tour of the Film Reference Library was a very interesting experience (especially with me being a film student). It was a great way to get me prepared for the week of celebrating film, that is the Toronto International Film Festival.