Gerrard Cinema open to local ideas

Theatre owner to screen indie films, cartoons and gaming

When Alam Waqar bought a property at the corner of Gerrard Street East and Jones Avenue he didn’t make much of the fact that it was a 300-seat movie theatre.

In fact, Waqar had put the underutilized theatre up for sale, until owner of the nearby Grinder café Euan Mowat took a hint from the community and hosted a discussion about how to save the Gerrard Cinema.

From that 20-strong gathering in April, Mowat made a business proposal to Waqar at the beginning of May.

“I’m trying to manufacture what I think is going to be quite an incredible deal,” he said at the time.

Waqar’s agreed to try out a pilot program, which Mowat thought up with the help of people within the film industry, that would include showing first-run independent films, cartoons for children and gaming for teenagers.

“Primarily, we’re using the theatre as a movie theatre for the first little bit,” Mowat says. “But there’s so many great ideas that not just the local area, but the east end of Toronto could stand using.”

Mowat plans to hold monthly community feedback sessions to find out what visitors would like to see.

“If they want it, we’ll do it,” Mowat says.

He’s also got the backing of Canadian actor Christian Potenza, who recently shot a movie with Burt Reynolds and LeAnn Rimes, but might be more familiar for his role as a toothbrush in a Listerine commercial.

Potenza thinks he could help bring in a film festival, shorts and interactive films for children.

Mowat says he has yet to finalize a date for the theatre’s grand re-opening and the details of how it will operate, but he exudes confidence.

“I’m sure we’re going to have a good long run with this.”

About this article:

By: Caitlin Orr
Posted: Jun 13 2011 3:47 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto