!Toronto:  A Non-linear and Generative Exploration of Toronto in Film

by Dave Kemp in collaboration with Alexandra Anderson 

On display at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the Film Reference Library (fourth floor)


Dates: October 17 – December 14, 2019 

Location: TIFF Bell Lightbox (Film Reference Library on the fourth floor) 

Hours: 12pm – 5pm Tuesday though Saturday and 12pm –7pm on Thursday.

Opening Reception: October 17 5pm – 7pm 


The Project

Borrowing the concept  from the film, Los Angeles Plays Itself by Thom Andersen,  the project takes two forms: a film and a non-linear, video-wall installation. 

 The project draws on a  database which currently  holds close to a 1800 titles of films shot in Toronto, each one identified by the specific locations used. 

The film is a meditation on what it means to live and make films in a city, in this case, Toronto, Canada, that often stands in for somewhere else in Hollywood films.


The project is presented as a conversation between global and national cinema and between fiction and documentary.

Running length of the film: 51: 38





 !Toronto is a multi-screen, video-wall installation, which acts as a collaborative extension of the Toronto Hides Itself film project, and makes use of the same database of films shot in Toronto from early twentieth century to the present day. Of particular interest, is the multitude of cases where Toronto is depicted as “somewhere else” and what this means within the discourse of Canadian national cinema and Canadian identity.  



!Toronto makes use of custom software and Geographic Information System (GIS) map data to produce an emergent and generative journey through the database of clips making use of various keywords which have been applied to the clips (such as “Yonge Street”, “Nathan Philips Square”, “Little Italy”, “CN Tower”, “TTC Streetcar”, etc.). Through combining over 2000 clips from narrative cinema, with locative map data, interviews with various filmmakers (Atom Egoyan, Patricia Rozema, and Bruce McDonald to name but a few), and original footage showing the locations as they actually appear outside of fictional film, the project works present a new way of visualizing and understanding the depiction of Toronto on film.  The title, !Toronto, stems from commonly used coding syntax where the “!” denotes a negation, or a logical “not”. 

About the makers

Alexandra Anderson


Alexandra Anderson is a researcher, writer and filmmaker. Her areas of research and publication include Canadian documentary, Cuban cinema, women and film, and documentary pedagogy. She has eighteen years of professional experience in the film and television industries working as a researcher, film editor and director/ producer. Her documentaries (made for British television) have won awards in Europe and Canada and have been seen around the world. Some titles are: Hell to Pay, (Best Film, Creteil Film Festival, and Montreal Women’s Film and Video Festival) Chile: Broken Silence and Tales from Havana.

She teaches film history and documentary production at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has co-ordinated the Documentary Filmmaking in Cuba course (a collaboration between Ryerson’s  Chang School and the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión in Cuba). She served as Chair of the School from 2010-2015.

Dave Kemp


Dave Kemp is a visual artist whose practice looks at the intersections and interactions between art, science and technology: particularly at how these fields shape our perception and understanding of the world. His artworks have been exhibited widely at venues such as at the McIntosh Gallery, The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, The Art Gallery of Mississauga, The Ontario Science Centre, York Quay Gallery, Interaccess, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, and as part of the Switch video festival in Nenagh, Ireland. His works are also included in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Canada Council Art Bank.

Dave obtained his PhD in Art and Visual Culture from the University of Western Ontario and is a graduate from the Master of Visual Studies program at the University of Toronto where he also completed the Collaborative Program in Knowledge Media Design. Prior to this, he earned an Image Arts (photography) BFA from Ryerson University and his BScE in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University. He currently works as an Assistant Professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University.

Contact Us

Inquiries related to the Toronto Hides Itself film:

Inquiries related to !Toronto: A Non-linear and G

Additional Credits

Funding provided by

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, (SSHRC) Canada
  • Ryerson University, Faculty of Communication and Design, School of Image Arts. 
  • Centre for Documentary Research.
  • Produced with the support of staff, faculty and students at the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University. 2019


!Toronto: A Non-linear and Generative Exploration of Toronto in Film

Creator, Programmer, Designer

  • Dave Kemp

GIS Technician and Map Designer

  • Sandro Camilli

Video Editing

  • Kathleen Edwards
  • Talia Eylon
  • Aidan Robert Bell

Sound Mixing

  • Kathleen Edwards

Special Thanks

  • CARFAC Ontario
  • Visual Artists’ Legal Clinic of Ontario (VALCO)
  • Torys LLP


Toronto Hides Itself (Film Project)

Producer, Director, Editor

  • Alexandra Anderson

Editor, Colourist

  • Richard Bartram

Research, Production Management, Assistant Editor

  • Sydney Boniface

Additional Research

  • Chelsea Keen
  • Andrew Watt
  • Graeme Jokic
  • Talia Eylon

Sound Designer

  • Alana Raymond


  • Nick Tirringer
  • John Tarver, CSE

Camera Assistant

  • Nyssa Gluck
  • Consultant
  • Geoff Pevere
  • Sound Recordists
  • Alex Hennessey
  • Gorjian


  • Flying by Garth Stevenson
  • Chrono by Lorenzo Masotto
  • Dr. Hooch by Do Make Say Think
  • Flux by Garth Stevenson
  • Earth by Garth Stevenson
  • Thanks to
  • Atom Egoyan
  • Patricia Rozema
  • Piers Handling
  • Tamara Deverell
  • Luc Montpellier
  • Bruce McDonald
  • Don Owen
  • Steve Gravestock
  • Reg Harkema
  • Tim Owen