Art For Commuters

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Toronto commuters can watch a continuous stream of one-minute silent films during the 3rd annual Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF), part of an effort by Heineken Canada, ONESTOP Media Group and Art for Commuters to bring art to the masses in novel and entertaining ways.

Over 75 silent TUFF one-minute films will air uninterrupted on digital screens located on the north and south platforms of the Bloor subway station. These ‘Heineken Film Zones’ will feature vinyl wrappings and be visible during the entire run of the festival. (The Bloor station is the busiest stop on the Toronto Transit Commission, with over 377,000 commuters passing through its turnstiles, daily.)

In addition to the Heineken Zone screens, the 10-day festival will air approximately 75 films every 10 minutes across the entire network of 270 TTC platform screens.

“Heineken remains committed to the arts, through our participation in art, film, fashion, and lifestyle events at both the national and local levels,” says Tom Vella, business development manager, Heineken Canada. “We hope the public takes advantage of this unique setting to enjoy this year’s TUFF films.”

“This year it’s not just about catching a film as you wait for your train,” says Sharon Switzer, festival director. “Now, people can go to the Film Zones and see all the day’s films in about 15 minutes.”

Over 240 films were submitted to this year’s festival, up by 30 from last year’s record, and received from countries worldwide. Winners of the top TUFF films are eligible for a number of cash and in-kind awards.

TUFF finalists are selected by a jury with the top three film chosen by a guest judge who, this year, is writer/director/actor Don McKellar. In addition to acting as ambassador for TUFF, McKellar will be appearing at the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) for the gala screening of his latest movie, Cooking with Stella. TIFF will also screen Imaginary Lovers, a multi-film installation directed by McKellar and shot on cellphone.

TUFF takes place September 11 – 20, 2009 on subway platforms across the TTC.

Founded by Switzer in 2007, Art for Commuters is a non-profit arts collective that initiates unique, thought-provoking projects in the public realm. As ONESTOP Media Group’s community arts programming partner, they bring urban art festivals and competitions to over 1 million people daily on the ONESTOP network of screens throughout the TTC subway system. Projects include: Contacting Toronto (May 2009) TUFF (September 2009) and Words Travel Fast (part of Nuit Blanche).

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