Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada



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"New Films" Series, Toronto 1977
A seminal event in early experimental film activity.
Screening programs, February 23 - June 15, 1977.
Photos, posters, more details at Mike Hoolboom.

A History by John Porter 2022

"New Films" was a seminal series of nine public film screenings organized by film artists Keith Lock and David Anderson and shown in their small live-in studio on the second floor above Freud Signs on the southwest corner of John Street and Adelaide Street West, Toronto, every other Wednesday, February 23 - June 15, 1977. Film people knew the series and venue as "Freud Signs", after the large sign on the front of the building. The programs were mostly independent 16mm films, including experimental films, by local artists and lent for free by their Toronto distributor, the artist-run and publicly-funded Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC), which still paid the rental fees to the artists. A few 8mm and super 8 films were also shown, borrowed from the artists.

The screening room was David's painting studio, so several large windows had to be covered before each screening, and they built a large flat paper screen that swung down from the ceiling. Their kitchen doubled as the projection booth, with the projector on top of the refrigerator. Keith used a smaller room as his editing suite, equipped with a 16mm Moviola viewer and a bench with rewinds and a splicer. David was also making 16mm, super 8 and 8mm films including Mr. Signman (1978, super 8, 23 minutes) which he shot from their studio windows and outside on the street. They slept in the third floor attic with no windows and accessed by a ladder. For each screening the projector was borrowed from the CFMDC across town on Jarvis Street, or from the Public Library along with some early-history short films by Thomas Edison, Georges Méliès and the Lumiere Brothers.

Their landlord Lou Freud helped the "New Films" series by donating the use of his sign-printing equipment after hours to print the screening posters. They would print 200 posters and put them up around their neighbourhood in Toronto's downtown arts district including the "happening" Queen Street West strip, the Ontario College of Art, and Kensington Market. They wrote, typed and copied detailed program notes to hand out at the screenings. Admission was free, and attendance ranged from 10 to 50, but with few chairs, most guests sat on the floor.


The small, historic, brick building, built in 1869, stood alone on the corner with a large parking lot on two sides. It was at 106 John St., but the entrance to "New Films" on the second floor was the building's rear door at 291 Adelaide St. W., as noted on the "New Films" posters. The building still stands today but in 2011 it was moved 57 meters south on John Street to save it from a large development at the corner.

Keith and David met in their teens in the 1960s when Keith and David's brother Jim made films together in high school. Then throughout the early 1970s the three lived occasionally with a group of film artists in a cabin on Buck Lake, a 3-hour drive out of Toronto, where Keith shot his first feature-length film Everything Everywhere Again Alive (1974, 16mm, 72 minutes). And they hung out in a house of film people at 125 Roxborough St. W., Toronto where their friend Jim Murphy held screening parties showing 16mm prints of theatrical movies.

When Keith and David began their regular "New Films" screenings in 1977 there had been only occasional screenings of independent films in Toronto, usually at large publicly-funded institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario where most local filmmakers' work wasn't included. "New Films" was so successful that they applied for public arts funding to continue the series from October 1977 to June 1978. But the established, artist-run and publicly-funded Centre for Experimental Arts and Communication (CEAC), just a block away, had been screening local films occasionally for two years and was inspired by "New Films" to plan weekly screenings in their much larger and dark basement, with more volunteers and chairs, so Keith and David, tired from all their work done alone, agreed to end "New Films".

The CEAC screenings, with the help of David and some of the other local filmmakers from "New Films", and with the help of the CFMDC which continued to donate film rentals while paying artist fees, soon became the 100-seat, state-of-the-art, The Funnel Experimental Film Theatre independent from CEAC. The Funnel continued for ten years with 30 active members and considerable public arts funding, hosting 60 screenings each year including 16mm, super 8 and 8mm films, and videos, many by artists visiting from around the world.

Keith Lock's and David Anderson's modest "New Films" series was a timely harbinger of Toronto's blossoming, large, diverse and active independent film community. The "New Films" series may be widely unknown or forgotten today, but it was an exciting moment of revelation for many Toronto artists who are still active today.


"New Films" Series Programs 1977

Wednesday, February 23, 7pm
Crash Points / Editing on the Run (Peter Dudar, 1976, 16mm, 19 minutes)
Gravity is Not Sad But Glad, reel 1 of 3 (Jim Anderson, 1975, 16mm, 30 minutes)
Wild Sync (Rick Hancox, 1972-73, 16mm, 10 minutes)
Total running time: 59 minutes.

Wednesday, March 9, 7:30pm
Gravity is Not Sad But Glad, reel 2 of 3 (Jim Anderson, 1975, 16mm, 45 minutes)
Kisses (Betty Ferguson, 1976, 16mm, 55 minutes)
Georges Méliès (1903-04, 16mm)
Total running time: 104 minutes.

Wednesday, March 23, 7:30pm
Weather Building (Ross McLaren, 1976, 16mm, 15 minutes)
I.E. (Ross McLaren, 1976, 16mm, 10 minutes)
Gravity is Not Sad But Glad, reel 3 of 3 (Jim Anderson, 1975, 16mm, 50 minutes)
Maltese Cross Movement (Kewatin Dewdney, 1968, 16mm, 8 minutes)
Total running time: 83 minutes.

Wednesday, April 6, 7:30pm
Lumiere films (Louis & Auguste Lumiere, 1895, 16mm, 5 minutes)
The Gunfight (Philip Schribeman & Marshall Fine, 1955, 16mm, 3 minutes)
Birth Film (David Anderson, 1976, 16mm, 30 minutes)
Dangling Participle (Standish Lawder, 1970, 16mm, 17 minutes)
The Crazy Ray / Paris Qui Dort (Rene Clair, 1923, 16mm, 20 minutes)
Total running time: 75 minutes.

Wednesday, April 20, 7:30pm
Breakfast (Michael Snow, 1972-76, 16mm, 15 minutes)
Everything Everywhere Again Alive (Keith Lock, 1974, 16mm, 72 minutes)
American Mutoscope (Thomas Edison, 1903-04, 16mm, 4 minutes)
Early films from Great Britain (1903-04, 16mm, 4 minutes)
Total running time: 95 minutes.


Wednesday, May 4, 7:30pm
Home Made Movies (Scott Didlake, 1970s, super 8, 10.5 minutes)
Rush Hour on Easy Street (Scott Didlake, 1970s, super 8, 10 minutes)
Stand Up and Be Counted (Freude Bartlett, 1969, 16mm, 3 minutes)
Jug Band Music, A Film About The Original Sloth Band (Patrick Lee, 1974, 16mm, 22 min.)
Country Music Montreal (Frank Vitale, 1971, 16mm, 28 minutes)
Total running time: 73.5 minutes.

Wednesday, May 18, 7:30pm
To Mum, Love Stupid O (Oni Freeman, 1976, 16mm, 5 minutes)
The Big Key (Jim Anderson, 1972, 16mm, 10 minutes)
American Nights (Peter Wronski, 1977, 16mm, 28 minutes)
Total running time: 43 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 7:45pm
Country Wedding (Tom Urquhart, 1973, 16mm, 27 minutes)
662-A (Mary Jane Card & Phil Schreibman, 1974, 16mm, 3.5 minutes)
Plasti-Scene (Mary Jane Card & Phil Schreibman, 1975, 16mm, 2.5 minutes)
Mother Marries a Man of Mellow Mien (Abigail Child, 1973, 16mm, 8 minutes)
Souwesto (Greg Curnoe, 1947-69, 16mm, 30 minutes)
Total running time: 71 minutes.

Wednesday, June 15, 7:30pm
Quebec in Silence (Gilles Gascon / NFB, 1969, 16mm, 9 minutes)
From Home Movies (Villem Teder, 8mm, 3 minutes)
Kind of a Drag (Raphael Bendahan, 1973, 16mm, 9 minutes)
Seagull (Laurie Little, 1973, super 8, 2 minutes)
The Battle (Laurie Little, 1973, super 8, 2 minutes)
Counterpoint 3 (Laurie Little, 1976, super 8, 7 minutes)
Studies (Villem Teder, 16mm, 8 minutes)
1-51 (Peter Chapman, 1977, 16mm, 15 minutes)
Angel (Derek May / National Film Board (NFB), 1966, 16mm, 7 minutes)
Moire Studies 1 & 2 (Villem Teder, 9 minutes)
Small Change (Mark Michasiw, 1976, 16mm, 2 minutes)
Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett / NFB, 1961, 16mm, 7 minutes)
But I Came to See Some Films, Not... (Villem Teder, 7 minutes)
Total running time: 87 minutes.


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