There is something to be said for odd films: when I was young and impressionable and living in Windsor, a local artist started what he called the Grindhaus Cinephilia, and traumatized a number of us with films by Kenneth Anger, Todd Haynes, and that engaging duo of Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol. Other, more (ahem) cultured offerings were also made, including Fellini and Antonioni. This shaped your intrepid #artcriticfromhell’s interest in film (I’ve watched Gaspar Noé s Enter The Void nearly a dozen times, and I survived a good chunk of the COVID lockdown by bingeing on Twin Peaks Season 3 – or the final season, if you will).
Bringing this ‘back’ to St. Catharines, a site that has been equally enjoyable and formative is the TCO Terrace at Niagara Artists Centre: I’m sure I’m one of many people who’ve enjoyed music and other such performative events there, and one of the things that has made the Summer of 2020 difficult is that this space has been deprived from us.
But that is no longer the case: allow me to introduce The Nomadic Cinema on the TCO Rooftop Terrace at NAC
The blurb, if you will: “If you can’t get out of town to watch a film on the NAC big screen at STRATUS, we’ve got you covered. We’ve cultivated a finely-ripened crop of new and classic titles for your viewing pleasure up on the TCO Rooftop Terrace!
We’ve also partnered up with some of our favourite downtown restaurants – and we’re offering up $30 tickets (which include food+a drink+film) to select screenings. Look for the FEAST ON FILM events — bringing film and Niagara’s renowned culinary and wine-making arts together to please multiple senses. Feast on Film is supported by the Niagara Investment in Culture Program at the Niagara Region.”
This kicks off with the first screenings taking place from the 3rd to the 6th of September, then more on the 10th to the 12th, then again on 17th to 19th, and a final round of cinematic joy on the closing days of the 24th to 26th of the month. All screenings will commence as twilight (the time, not those movies, please, ahem) and doors open at 7 PM.
Now, as we’re still being mindful re: COVID, it’s best to purchase your tickets early, keep in mind that any group has a MAXIMUM of 5 people, and that “If you are planning to sit with other ticket holders, please let us know in the notes section when you purchase your tickets. This will help us layout seating in a Covid-responsible way.” You can purchase tickets here (with a helpful link beneath each respective film) and General Admission is $10 whereas the “Feast on Film” is $30 and includes food+drink.
Speaking of ‘feast on film’, in offering brief teasers for the films being shown, how can I not mention Cannibal Girls? A Canadian classic from 1973 that was directed by Ivan Reitman, it chronicles how “a young couple spend the night in a restaurant, only to find out that it is haunted by three dead women who hunger for human flesh.” That is going to be shown on September 4th, so dinner will be served very soon, with that show.
The respective films and dates that they’ll be screened on the NAC Terrace can be seen here. But several merit a mention here, to lure you out to see them. These include one that is being shown both the 11th and the 26th of September: Disappearance at Clifton Hill, from 2019, which was directed by Albert Shin. If you’ve not heard of this (as it was getting noticed in a variety of Niagara news spaces this past year), here’s the synopsis: “Abby returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls when her mother passes away, leaving Abby and her younger sister the family business, the Rainbow Motel. Abby has a memory of a day their family spent on the river, when Abby was by herself in the woods, and saw an injured boy being kidnapped. Because Abby has a habit of making up tales, no one believes her when she tries to report the kidnapping many years later. However, as she begins to delve into the mystery, she uncovers evidence that may convince the skeptics that a crime actually has been committed.”
If that’s a mite heavy, there’s also humour on the agenda: Animal Crackers will have a one time only screening on the 17th of September at the TCO Terrace (have I mentioned yet that it’s located at 358 St. Paul St., downtown St Catharines, for those unfamiliar?) “Mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honour of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding.” The Marx Brothers are frankly underrated, for both their slapstick absurdity but frankly Groucho has a bit of a sarcastic and cutting mouth on him, in many of their fine films.
And, perhaps with a nod to current events, and how history repeats from tragedy to farce, on September 24th NAC will be showing The Music Room, which “depicts the end days of a decadent zamindar (landlord) in Bengal, and his efforts to uphold his family prestige even when faced with economic adversity.”
The full listing can be found here: and no matter what your cinematic taste, NAC is offering a number of films for the discerning and diverse palate. In a number of other pieces I’ve shared here recently, during the difficulties of COVID 19, I’ve spoken of how we’ve come to rely on culture – and our cultural spaces, whether literal or virtual – to help us see it through. As well, many cultural spaces that define our communities, as well as making them livable spaces, need our support right now. The Nomadic Cinema on the TCO Rooftop Terrace at NAC is a way to both nourish yourself and support them.
The Nomadic Cinema on the TCO Rooftop Terrace at NAC takes place for the entire month of September, so peruse the films on offer and consider what might appeal to you, from their eclectic and enjoyable selections. Personally, the opportunity to see Bruce Lee’s The Way of the Dragon on a big screen DEMANDS your attendance, in my opinion, ahem. The header image for this article is a still from Clifton Hill, 2019.
Bart Gazzola (also known as #artcriticfromhell) is an arts writer/critic who has published with Magenta Magazine, Canadian Art, New Art Gazette, Galleries West, PrairieSeen, Long Exposure and BlackFlash (where he was Editorial Chair for 3 years). He is Assistant Editor at thesound.rocks and a frequent contributor to various cultural spaces in Niagara.