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One hot August day while having a beer on my porch with a friend a man who passed by perched a heavy bag on the fence next door. I said, “You look like you could use a glass of water.” He said, “I could!” I said, “Go inside and get one.” He wound up living with me for three months. He was from the far north. When he left he left this art. Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger. I do. He calls us to give water to the thirsty. I do.

“You will starve in two weeks if you leave this school today,” my high school principal told me. Had I not left I would have starved. I also would not have met Judith Merril who became a friend, a mentor and got me into Rochdale College. At Rochdale there were no teachers. We were called to be our own teacher.

I first met Robert “Bobby” Naismith in Rochdale. One day while out posting flyers Bobby walked with me. I learned he was living on the street. I said, “I have room for you.” Bobby said, “I have no money.” I said, “I know that.” While here Bobby got his feet on the ground. He went on to wow Toronto: .

Films By Reg Hartt On The Web


The CineForum has been and continues to a home to a diverse array of wonderful people. Had I listened to my teachers it would be a different story.

The Rochdale College idea was that we become our own teacher.

Become your own teacher.


The author of this piece from the Toronto Star said, “The people at THE STAR think the films you show are trash.”

THE CINEFORUM is one of the few places on earth where Mickey can be Mickey.

“My father told me, ‘I have hated you from the moment you were born as in that second I realized I had to die,” said Reg Hartt to Michael Valpy who replied, “First born sons.” Hartt knew then this is something common to fathers. It explains much.

Reg Hartt Bernard B. Brown 2

One day Rene Highway said to me, “Can I live with you.” From him I learned first hand the history of our native schools. Rene remains an inspiration.

Reg Hartt when his high school principal said, “You have the wrong attitude. Leave this school and you will starve in two weeks.”

As a result of leaving high school Reg Hartt met and got as a mentor and friend John Herbert author of FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES.

“Can you sleep in the park?” a fellow asked me in 1968. I said, “Why?” He said, “My father said, ‘my way or the highway.’ I said, “Come with me.” His name was Bruno “Buzz” Weckerle.

The legendary Forrest J Ackerman at The Cineforum.

Al Aronowitz at The CineForum which he said was his favorite place on earth. Who was Al? , , .

One night Donnarama Versace called. He needed help. Did I have room for him? S/he was a vibrant addition:

Aditya Shankar showed up for my cartoon fest. He was the only person here. Afterwards I invited him to have a beer. He said, “Are you married? Do you have kids?” I said, “I’m as queer as a three dollar bill. I have tons of kids.” Adi asked to live here. Then the religious right in his native India decided to attack homosexuals. Adi was the head of SAATHI. He fought bigotry in India from The CineForum in Toronto, his home:

Mark Sleep, from Australia, was surprised when after meeting him by chance in a bar I invited him to live here. He cooked an astounding dinner from THE SALVADOR DALI COOKBOOK.


Judith Merril, Reg Hartt, THE SALVADOR DALI DINER prepared by Marc Sleep.

Mark Sleep with Owen Hartt, father of Reg Hartt.

I came to Toronto with nothing but faith.

Liora Lind wrote in 1992, “Reg Hartt’s Cineforum is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.” What makes that statement particularly true is that my work in this city has never been valued by the people who run this city. I have been under attack from the moment I started in 1968. Said David Beard in a Toronto Star piece from 1980, “Reg Hartt is overworked, under-financed and snubbed. We should be paying tribute to him”

Reg Hartt as Christ by Bruce Simpson.

Jesus was dirt poor.

Bob Clampett being interviewed by Joyce Davidson in Toronto. I was and am determined the world know the full extent of Bob’s artistry.

Shamus Culhane at Sheridan College on Oakville. I brought him there to meet and spend time with his old friend Zach Schwartz.

Grim Natwick in Toronto 1982. Shamus Culhane came up from New York for this.

Friz Freleng getting the Picasso treatment in Toronto.

The great films from Hollywood’s Golden Age of Theatrical Cartoons (1920 to 1960) wee cut to bits by scissor happen censors. Many of the very best are banned. In my programs people see them as their creators meant us to.

Bernard B. Brown played first violin in the orchestra which accompanied THE BIRTH OF A NATION during its premiere run in Los Angeles in 1915. On retiring he taught film and film sound at UCLA. For three days in 1980 he taught me.

Friz Freleng was wonderful. In Toronto he met an audience which regarded him as they would have regarded Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. They saw him not as a man who made funny cartoons but as what he was, a real artist working in the medium of his choice. Mr. Freleng is one of animation’s great unsung heroes. His use of music in animation is peerless. Two of his best films, CLEAN PASTURES and GOLDILOCKS AND THE JIVING BEARS are among the fabled Censored Eleven Warner Animation classics. While these films certainly don’t belong on regular television they are mature works which should command the respect they deserve. They are adult in the best sense of that word. Freleng did Ralph Bakshi (FRITZ THE CAT, COOKSKIN, etc.) when Bakshi was in diapers.

This issue of FILM COMMENT opened my eyes to animated cartoons not only as cinema but also as an art forum unto itself.

I have found many four leaf clovers. A dog in Wales found and gave me an 8 leaf clover.

I came to Toronto from Hollywood in 1970 to become part of the most reviled place in the city, Rochdale College, where I became Director of Cinema Studies. Rochdale had no money to pay me. That was fine because I was standing on Faith. I am still standing on Faith.

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