No funeral for Funnel (Nov. 1988)

Cinema Canada no. 157

Responding to an article in last month’s Cinema Canada, Ross McLaren, former director of the Funnel, Toronto’s oldest centre for experimental film, claims that the organization he created over ten years ago is not dead yet. “We just had a screening on October 7 at the Ontario College of Art. That’s a sign of life,” he told Cinema Canada. McLaren now lives in New York City where he teaches experimental film at Fordham University.

He is disappointed with the lack of support for what the current members of the Funnel are trying to do and blames the syndrome of arts funding in Canada. “To be blunt, the Funnel’s success has generated a fair degree of envy, jealousy and greed. Unfortunately, lack of representation by Funnel supporters on any arts councils’ secret advisory panels did not help our situation.”

He contends that if the renovation grants had come through on time, they could have made the new theatre work. The newly renovated theatre on Soho Street had to be closed in the summer when the Funnel could not longer pay the unexpectedly high rent and taxes.

“It was heartbreaking,” McLaren said, “because those people built the theatre, put up the dry-walls, did all the work on a voluntary basis. If the people in the community had supported them, then perhaps the renovation grants would have come through. Even if they had remained neutral, the Funnel could have continued on its existing grant level. But instead they came out with a fulfledged attack against the Funnel.”

McLaren feels that the remaining board members are very demoralized and going through a rebuilding time, trying to sort out their finances and consider what to do next. He claims that the equipment. Some of the best Super8 equipment in the country, can be used by members, but only on a cooperative basis. “In the future we are going to keep it at one membership level, and that’s the board.”

The Funnel will hold two more public screenings this year at the OCA and is now searching for an appropriate site for its filmmaking activities.