Five-storey complex houses five cinemas.

The industry launch party of the new TIFF Bell Lightbox drew some 2,000 festival guests and raves from Oscar-winning director Denys Arcand (Barbarian Invasions), who told Screen: “There’s nothing even close to it in the whole world. It’s stunning.”

Designed by world-renowned Toronto-based architecture firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the Lightbox was officially opened yesterday with a ribbon-cutting and a huge street party, featuring the likes of Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan.

The five-story complex is home to five public cinemas, ranging from 550- to 80-seat theatres, and a three-storey atrium, two galleries, three learning studios, a centre for students and scholars, the staff offices of TIFF, a bistro, a restaurant and a lounge. 

Piers Handling, Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), said: “We have spent a decade working on this project and its opening marks a new step in the evolution of TIFF.”

The five cinemas have art installations as part of the grand opening, including a provocative black and white retro work by Atom Egoyan called 8 1/2 Screens.

The year-round programming in TIFF Bell Lightbox is being driven by Noah Cowan. To date, two significant initiatives have been announced for 2010: Essential Cinema, a TIFF-curated film and exhibition programme, and the MoMA-curated Tim Burton, the highly successful MoMA exhibit.