Toronto is a city for film lovers. Aside from the numerous film festivals held annually, from the large scale Toronto International Film Festival and the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, to the smaller student film festivals and the unique 24 Hour Film Festival, Toronto offers many free outdoor film screenings through June to September.
Free Film Screenings at Harbourfrotn Centre and Yonge and Dundas Square
Each year, free outdoor film festival screenings are offered at Yonge and Dundas Square along the picturesque waterfront at the Harbourfront Centre. Yonge and Dundas Square is located in the heart of the downtown core, directly across from the Eaton’s Centre, major theatres, and restaurants. The Harbourfront Centre screens their Free Flicks film festival series from its location on the shores of Lake Ontario, just south of the Rogers Centre.
Film Themes and Genres Change Each Year
Usually conforming to a specific theme or genre, these locations screen films once a week at dusk. Past themes and genres have included science fiction, action films, films of the 1980s, and romance films. From Hollywood blockbusters like Titanic and Gone With the Wind to cult favourites like Labyrinth and Blade Runner, Toronto’s outdoor screenings attract film goers of all ages.
Harbourfront’s Free Flicks series runs weekly on Wednesdays through July and August while screenings at Yonge and Dundas Square are on Tuesdays at sunset. Each venue provides seating on a first come, first served basis. Crowds generally start to gather around 8pm as there are often short films or entertainment before the feature film. Refreshments are often sold at various stands, or can be purchased from any number of nearby fast food and take-out establishments. Most films begin at approximately 9pm when the sun has dipped below the horizon making it dark enough to see the projection.
Aside from the summer film festival series held at Harbourfront, several summer festivals also feature free outdoor film screenings. The Hot and Spicy Food Festival has short films which are screened on the boardwalk. These short films begin at 9pm and run on a loop until 11pm.
Toronto International Film Festival Free Film Screenings
In addition to these free summer films, Young and Dundas Square is transformed into an outdoor theatre during the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF, as the festival is commonly known, takes over the square with film related events including free screenings question and answer periods by filmmakers, and other film-related activities. In 2008, basketball superstar LeBron James appeared in Yonge and Dundas Square to promote the TIFF screening of the documentary More than a Game.
TIFF Events at Yonge and Dundas Square
TIFF uses Yonge and Dundas Square as its main hub for film events during the ten days the festival is held every September. TIFF celebrates its accessibliity as a public film event by offering a diverse range of free events and screenings in addition to their affordable ticket prices. These free events to the public begin at noon most days with screenings and performances scheduled throughout the day until 11pm. Highlights include the Toronto Zombie Walk with guest appearance by horror film auteur George Romero, a line-up of concert films with guest appearances by musicians such as Neil Yonge and Joan Baez, and live footage from the red carpet at film festival’s opening night gala film presentation at Roy Thompson Hall.