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Restored Bloor opens its doors to docs

Fall Fest Preview 2012

The Bloor is back on the festival map. Home of the Toronto fest’s Midnight Madness section until 1994, the venerable venue has had many incarnations — opening as one of the city’s first “picture palaces” in 1913 and operating as a repertory house for the past 30 years.

After a $3 million renovation (improved seating, new projection and sound among other things), the Bloor re-opened in spring under the management of the Hot Docs film festival as a year-round spot for first-run documentaries and some rep fare.

The 700-plus seater — easily reached via subway or a short taxi ride from the fest hub — is nestled in a dynamic, street-level neighborhood lined with bistros, shops and nightlife. During Toronto, the theater will roll out the red carpet for evening Vanguard preems (see related story) and will screen edgy and specialized fare, including docs.

But with 30-plus docs set to unspool, Toronto Docs programmer Thom Powers says pics will play at virtually all fest venues. “Year after year documentaries sell out and we keep increasing the seat inventory,” he says. “The Bloor gives us a great option because it’s established locally as a destination and will help us continue to build our audience.”

The doc slate features Maiken Baird’s “Venus & Serena,” Dror Moreh’s “Gatekeepers,” Participant Media’s “State 194,” Liz Garbus’ “Love, Marilyn” and new films from Ken Burns, Alex Gibney and Nina Davenport.

“What stands out in contrast to last year is that there are more new faces — filmmakers I’d never heard of a few months ago,” says Powers.

Fest regulars Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are exec producers on one of the more intriguing titles: Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing.” Other hot docs include “Artifact,” “How to Make Money Selling Drugs,” “Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp,” “The Secret Disco Revolution” and “No Place on Earth.”

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