With the coming of the summer, the multiplexes are filling with excitable young moviegoers, waiting in line to attend the next blockbuster hit. Such is the way of summer cinema, which brings together people of all walks of life in crowded rooms to watch stars and starlets stumble their way through tired but entertaining plotlines. It is truly a beautiful phenomenon, a wonder, a remnant of twentieth century culture we still enjoy today. But within this picturesque image which insights a sense of nostalgia, there exists a flaw, a question, a crack, a nagging repeatability. Sequel number 1, 2, 3 and 4, forever more it seems.  One wishes to abandon the safe-haven that is the parking lot surrounding the 13 connected theatres and overpriced popcorn and stray across some street to some other place, some other possibility for entertainment.

Lone wanderers, strayed souls, angsty film buffs searching for something different to watch on the big screen – I am here to lend a hand, to share my own discoveries of all that this city has to offer in film. Toronto happens to be an extremely cultured city with a variety of artistic escapes. And its streets are littered with small theatres and film festivals waiting to be explored. So go find them and entertain yourself.

Toronto is home to one of the largest international film festivals in the world: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Many forget about the festival after it’s over and the stars have wandered back to their hillside home, but TIFF employs a theatre complex developed in 2010 which operates year-round and screens a variety of specially selected quality films. Every summer, the Bell Lightbox, as it is called, pays homage to a specific kind of international cinema. This year the Lightbox is presenting A Century of Chinese Cinema: Roundtables and Talks, wherein they will screen the most iconic films of China’s cinematic past, as well as having special days dedicated to exploring specific genres and eras, followed by discussions with notable filmmakers. You can visit the TIFF Bell Lightbox website to find out specific days.

There are also a number of notable international ethnic film festivals being hosted over the summer.  These include the Italian Contemporary film festival (ICFF), the Toronto Japanese Film Festival (TJFF) and the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF), all of which are operating within the months of June and July at various venues around the city.

Additional film festivals being hosted this month include NXNE and the Queer West Film Festival. NXNE is brings together a collection interesting contemporary films, documentaries, and music videos, screened at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema as well as other venues across the city. The Queer West Film Festival in July presents various forms of queer-themed art and film.

For anyone interested in exploring various cinematic horizons and experiencing different kinds of film, these festivals are an excellent opportunity. They help expose those interested to international and domestic films both contemporary and historical. It’s an opportunity to escape the crowded multiplex and experience something a little more interesting.