Font Size

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel.

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” ― Elie Wiesel.

Street Poster Campaign smearing Terry Ross.

When posters smearing a street person suddenlly went up all over the core of Toronto I bought a video camera, recorded them, posted the video on line and did my best to get it stopped. Everyone I contacted (MPs, MPPs, City Councillors, the media, OCAP and more) said, “There is nothing we can do.” Then one woman working in Mayor David Miller’s office replied. She said, “I will have this stopped.” Those posters stopped.

Then in 2012 the first in an endless series of posters smearing myself appeared on the streets of the city. Those posters are still going up in 2020.

Only one journalist has properly written about this: Oliver Moore.

Only one paper has properly written about this: THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Canada’s newspaper of record.

Most journalists are  lazy. Now and then one comes along who is not.

Moore makes it clear that what has happened and what continues to happen to myself is not a feud. Other people, a great many other people, have had and continue to have their work destroyed.


Seeing Moore’s piece Ed Keenan of THE STAR said, “There’s a real newspaperman.”

Ed Keenan said to me, “Reg, you are the only man in this city who stands up.”

I said to Ed, “There are more.”

Thankfully THE GLOBE AND MAIL has kept Moore’s piece alive.

Toronto alternative-theatre founder stands up to bullying threats

Street Poster Campaign smearing Terry Ross.

Lawrence Solomon: Ford’s blow for film freedom | Financial Post “Reg Hartt has been a credit to Toronto for decades. His Cineforum, which screens noteworthy films for small study groups in his living room, has long won acclaim from critics in Canada and abroad and endorsements from Canadian icons such as author Pierre Berton and urban guru Jane Jacobs. Lonely Planet lists 463 Bathurst St, his modest abode on a major Toronto thoroughfare, as among the top 30 sights to see in Toronto and in the top 30 of sights to see in Ontario. That’s quite a credit to the city.”

This post was removed from HERITAGE TORONTO:

David Wencer, Heritage Toronto on Cineforum & Reg Hartt

Filed Under: 2. Critical Reaction To Reg Hartt Over The Years, 3. History, Purpose by admin — Comments Off on David Wencer, Heritage Toronto on Cineforum & Reg Hartt

May 24, 2019

Font Size


Posted on January 4, 2013 by Kaitlin

Toronto’s cult theatre experience. Written by David Wencer and originally posted on January 26, 2009.

Since 1992, 463 Bathurst has been the home of the Cineforum, a unique Toronto institution dedicated to the collecting and screening of films, particularly those films which have the power to provoke. It is certainly Toronto’s most intimate of cinemas; the theatre itself is the modified lounge of a downtown Victorian townhouse, furnished cozily with an eclectic assortment of chairs. The Cineforum’s most distinctive feature, of course, is Reg Hartt, the resident curator and a self-confessed eccentric who personally hosts each screening.

Hartt’s history with Toronto goes back to the 1960s, a time when Toronto did not enjoy the same relationship with the film industry that it has today. Movie theatres in Toronto only showed content currently in wide theatrical release, and as such there were a great many films going unwatched by the local citizenry – these included not only independent projects, but also those films released several decades before. In the 1960s, Hartt began amassing an archive of film prints, and had his first screenings at George Henderson’s Viking Books, a bookstore then on Queen Street West.

Over the subsequent years, Hartt’s screenings of rare films developed a following as they moved around the downtown core. One memorable location was in Yorkville, in a boutique called “Queen Victoria Slept Here” over a pool hall. Yorkville at this time was still an un-gentrified Bohemian hub, where artists, writers, and others embracing the ideals of the time met and flourished. Hartt’s programmes fit right in until he became a resource person at nearby Rochdale College Toronto’s experiment in alternative self-education which lasted into the mid-1970s.

The culture of the time also meant that many controversial films were unknown to Toronto audiences. Hartt was the first in Toronto to screen “Boys in the Sand,” a 1971 gay pornographic film which achieved some crossover success, and which is often linked to galvanizing the gay liberation movement in North American cities. By screening films it wasn’t possible for Torontonians to see anywhere else, Hartt was able to launch discussions that people in Toronto might otherwise not have had.

The fact that Hartt still chooses to launch these discussions literally, at his screenings, sometimes rankles his audience, particularly those who “just want to see a movie.” The clue is in the name, however: Cineforum. Rather than making theatre-going a passive experience, Hartt creates a genuine forum in the ancient Roman sense, wherein people are encouraged to challenge not only the films that he screens, but the ideas and opinions he expresses. Media accounts of the Cineforum are invariably written from an intensely personal perspective, because visiting the Cineforum is an intensely personal experience, where the audience, no matter what size, is always treated as the individuals that they are, and not as a homogeneous group of people with a single thought.

Unsurprisingly then, one of the Cineforum’s longtime supporters was Jane Jacobs, the late activist who promoted individual communities within an urban mosaic.

This unorthodox way of screening films has lead to Hartt being considered a polarizing figure in Toronto, often branded as “controversial” or even “crazy.” Hartt is certainly in no hurry to rid himself of these labels.

After over 16 years at 463 Bathurst, it was recently announced that the Cineforum would soon be on the move again, as Hartt’s landlord intended to sell the property. This is evidently no longer the case, and the Cineforum can remain at its current location for as long as Hartt chooses. There was never any panic on his part, as the physical location is secondary to the films he screens and the relationship he has with the people who attend. It remains important to him that he be located in the heart of downtown, so as to best serve not only the people in Toronto who frequent the Cineforum, but to accommodate the many visitors he has from out of town – not to mention those from outside Canada – who come each year for the Cineforum experience.

The above has been deleted from HERITAGE TORONTO.

–David Wencer

Who I Am



Lawrence Solomon: Ford’s blow for film freedom

Going With the Flow

The eclectic music of Petunia.

by Conan Tobias

omeone who doesn’t take the time to recognize Petunia’s full range as a musician would most likely label him as a country act. (It doesn’t help that he rivals Hank Williams in the yodeling department.) Those who listen a little longer might categorize him as roots, blues, Americana, rockabilly, or jazz, and draw comparisons to Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Jerry Lee Lewis, or the bar band from a David Lynch film. But those who listen longer still will recognize that while all of these descriptions, and others, are valid, none can define him accurately on their own. In more ways than one, Petunia refuses to be fenced in.

Since the age of eighteen, Petunia has been a wandering soul. His mantra is “We only live for a short time. We might as well make the most of it.” As a result, he’s spent much of his life in search of “experiences,” moving from town to town, depending on the kindness of strangers—many of whom quickly become friends.

Before transforming into a travelling troubadour he worked in the film industry, which eventually led him to the Cineforum, the legendary Toronto theatre run out of the film archivist Reg Hartt’s living room, and where Petunia lived and worked for a time. “The first time I saw him talk, I was sold,” Petunia said of Hartt. “We’ve been friends ever since. I learned everything I know about the business of being an artist from Reg. And believe it or not, I learned how to walk a little more gracefully from knowing him.”

Petunia came to music in a roundabout way. His parents were passive music listeners whose tastes leaned toward Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka—not the type of sounds that make a kid growing up in Laval, Quebec, long to pick up a guitar and sing. He says his earliest, most important influence was the 1976 K-Tel compilation Looney Tunes, which included such novelty songs as Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” and “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes. Eventually, older cousins played him more groundbreaking artists, like Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Boney M., and AC/DC. His true musical awakening, which he refers to as a “Frankenstein moment,” came while living at the Cineforum, when the comedian Sheila Gostick taught him how to sing and play guitar, and rechristened him Petunia. He started busking soon after, and in a sense has never stopped.

Petunia’s eclectic tastes and love of the road have given him a career as unique as his sound. He tours extensively, across Canada and around the world, playing to standing-room-only crowds in venues ranging from a sixty-seat century-old converted church in Parkindale, New Brunswick, to a co-op café on the outskirts of Montreal, to Toronto’s rustic palace, the Dakota Tavern. “I enjoy the whole lifestyle,” Petunia said. “I enjoy playing large and small venues, but where I have a lot of friends and have a lot of fun, those are the places I like to go back to. You know the saying about how water follows the least resistant path? The path with the least resistance is the way to go. That’s what Reg taught me.”

When not touring as a solo artist, Petunia is joined by the Vipers, a band formed from the ashes of the rockabilly star Ray Condo’s Ricochets after his death, in 2004. Together, they’ve recorded three albums of originals and less-known covers, most recently Inside of You.

“For me, success is making excellent recordings, making really great music, putting on really good shows, and still being able to carry on having a life,” he says. “I don’t have a job—my job is what I do. So that’s success to me.”

Toronto Sucks Sunday, June 20, 2010

Davisville Psycho

There is this nutjob in Davisville that doesn’t let anyone put up posters. Now, he’ll put up posters but no one else. We put up some posters last year, along Davisville from Yonge St. to Mt. Pleasant. We thought it was great. Bare poles, buildings, people walking by, clean, nice neighbourhood. Later that night we get a message. Someone threatening to smash our skulls in if we ever poster there again. So what do we do, we poster there again! We were told it was this big guy, riding around on a scooter, who was into animation and such. And we kept our eyes open. We stuck up posters, starting at Mt. Pleasant. We walked towards Yonge on Davisville, sticking up posters on the bare poles, keeping an eye out. We didn’t see anything. On our way back, posters seemed missing. Where we thought we put posters, there were none. We could have swore we stuck some up on that pole. We got in the car and sure enough we saw the culprit, in broad daylight, with a knife cutting posters off, clearing the streets of Davisville of posters. We tried confronting him and he just rushed off. “                                                                                                             is” the psycho who leaves death threats on people answering machines if they stick up a poster on a public property in Davisville!

Toronto vintage film expert denying child-pornography charges

Legendary film archivist Reg Hartt faces five child pornography charges after Toronto Police searched his Bathurst St. home — which has a small theatre — in May. › 2016/06 › reg-hartt-cineforum-closes-again-2016

Bidding Farewell to Reg Hartt’s Cineforum, Again – Torontoist


Jun 16, 2016 – It seems that every few years, Reg Hartt announces that his … it on every Reg Hartt poster on every street corner in town, a regrettable one.

Toronto’s longest standing poster feud just won’t die – blogTO

May 5, 2017 – … the one that still rages to this day between Reg Hartt and Jamie Gillis. … to as the poster wars, this public battle has played out on street poles … › wiki › Reg_Hartt

Reg Hartt – Wikipedia


Reg Hartt is a film archivist in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who is well known for his unique … Since 1992 he has shown the movies in his house on Bathurst Street. … He had been lured to Cineforum by a poster he’d seen for a screening of Jean Cocteau’s BLOOD OF A POET…

The city should leave CineForum alone: Editorial – Toronto Star

Fiorito: We gotta have Hartt

Last picture show may be looming for Reg Hartt

Save guerrilla art spaces

The Cineforum: Reg Hartt and Toronto’s Alternative Film Scene

Alternative Film Ephemera: Engaging Toronto’s Audiences

Leave a comment

James Mahoney

Toronto’s longest standing poster feud just won’t die – blogTO

Someone has it in for Reg Hartt

Who is Reg Hartt and “the rat?”

Reg Hartt

Bidding Farewell to Reg Hartt’s Cineforum, Again

Poster legend

It’s hard to imagine street poles before Reg Hartt

Who is Reg Hartt and why am I seeing his posters everywhere?

I’ve been living in the Annex for a little over a year now, and it feels like every few months I end up seeing dozens of flyers pasted all over every single bulletin board in the area, usually advertising the same types of events every time (a screening of Nosferatu, a public discussion on LSD, etc.) Upon closer inspection I noticed that all these events are supposedly organized and hosted by some guy named Reg Hartt, who is described as “the greatest public speaker of all time” according to these posters.


So what’s this guy’s deal, and why does he keep advertising the same events over and over? Is he some kind of scam artist? Or just some pretentious dude trying to gain clout with his vanity projects? This has been driving me nuts and I’m hoping someone can shed some light on this conspiracy.

Cineforum deserves a happy ending to its saga: Keenan

“Could this be your last chance to hear Reg Hartt?”

By Will sloan

I went to Reg Hartt’s “What I Learned on LSD” (and this is what I learned)

Toronto film archivist presents more than just movies at The Cineforum

Last Christmas At The Cineforum? Reg Hartt Says Maybe, Then A Lot More

Reg Hartt’s Cineforum

Cineforum falls victim to Toronto’s war on fun

By Jon Sufrin |  April 9, 2010

Read the reviews:

Dr J’s Bike Clinic

« »