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The Grand Gerrard Theatre opens in Leslieville

Plain old-fashioned good luck: that’s how the Grand Gerrard theatrewas able to open with only two weeks of work. Matthew Almeida, producer and concert booker, and Kalen Artinian, film-maker, re-opened the theatre earlier this year. The building has a long history, operating first in 1911 as La Bonita, and later as the Gerrard in the 1940s, the Athenium in the 1960s, the Sri Lakshmi in the 1980s and 1990s, the Projection Booth in 2011, and Big Picture Cinema in 2013. Whew!

The Grand Gerrard Theatre Venue

The venue has certainly had its ups and downs, so we’re happy to see it return to the neighbourhood as a venue for live music and film screenings. You may recall the dispute between the owners of the Projection Booth that led to its closure in 2013 and renaming to Big Picture Cinema

A DIY delight

The serendipitous launch of the Grand Gerrad Theatre venue is the epitome of the saying: ‘when one door closes, another opens’. Almeida was able to snag a second-hand soundboard from The Rockpile after they upgraded their own. He also re-used sound equipment from a club he previously owned. Some donations and new items, such as a new screen, make The Grand Gerrard a bit of a DIY darling. It fits in nicely with Almeida’s aesthetic, who was looking for something a bit more punk.

Currently, Almeida can show digital films, and is hoping to start showing 35 mm films. Almeida and Artinian came across a treasure trove of old Bollywood films in the basement, so they have plans to screen them in the future.

So far so good

The Grand Gerrard hit the ground running, airing wide-ranging, yet charming, mix of materials, including: a documentary on American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails’ 1994-95 tour and a 4/20 Comedy Show.

Almeida had originally planned to take things slow, but was surprised at how much interest the theatre’s re-opening generated: the schedule is packed with events for May.

Upcoming events include the Digestible Culture – Video Art Festival on May 31, where local fillm-makers re-edit feature films to create new stories.

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