TFS is one of Canada’s oldest film appreciation groups. It was originally formed to meet the demand for Canadian and international forgotten, banned, independent, and fringe sound and silent films, and to support their preservation and restoration. It is a volunteer run, membership driven, non-profit organization dedicated to the study of the artistic, historic, and social significance of cinema. Our expertly-curated films (from 1910-80, of various genres) are shown on the big screen, as they were meant to be enjoyed. Some are rare archival prints not easily obtained by the general public. Our extraordinary series, festivals, and events engage diverse cinephiles of all ages from Toronto and beyond.
In 1934, the National Film Society in Ottawa was founded, prompting many other film appreciation societies to spring up in cities all over Canada. Unfortunately, almost all of these early branches were suspended at the start of WWII.
Then in 1948, Dorothy and Oscar Burritt and a group of dedicated film enthusiasts established the Toronto Film Study Group (TFSG), eventually to become the Toronto Film Society. The new TFSG launched with a Summer series of screenings in the studios of Panda Photography at 321 Church Street, a converted coach house. The first regular season of the TFSG opened October 25th, 1948 at the Royal Ontario Museum Theatre with a screening of Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, double billed with the 1946 documentary Cyprus Is An Island.
In 1950, the TFSG was incorporated by Ontario Letters Patent as a non-profit, educational, and cultural association “for the study and appreciation of film as an art” and officially renamed the Toronto Film Society. The founding board of directors consisted of Gerald Pratley (President), Roy Clifton, Donald Smith, Philip Budd, Moira Armour, Dorothy Burritt, Sterling Campbell, Peter Engering, George Patterson, Benedetto Viccari and Nola Holdaway.
In 1948 the only way to see a film was in a movie theatre and film societies served the need to find archival prints and rare films that were inaccessible to the general public. Of course, with the advent of home theatre and cable channels dedicated solely to movies, that need has changed and evolved.
At the Toronto Film Society, we believe movies are best seen with like-minded film buffs. We believe comedies are funnier in a crowded theater and musicals are more impressive on the big screen. We believe sharing the experience of films with others trumps the experience of watching at home every time.
Today, the Toronto Film Society is dedicated to celebrating cinema and to enhancing awareness and understanding of the art of film among Toronto’s broad and diverse film going audience. We invite film lovers of all ages to join us in watching, enjoying, and learning more about classic films.
Norman Jewison, C.C.
Hanna Miller, President and Chair
Mark Brodsky, Vice-President and Secretary
Arnold Miller, Treasurer
Peter Poles, Programming Chair
Terri Lipton, Membership Chair
Frances Blau, Film Notes Chair
Caren Feldman, Website Management
Andrea Rosen, Website Technical Maintenance
Graham Petrie, Scholar in Residence
Joshua Miller, Rachel Miller – Volunteers on Call
October 2022 – April 2023