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TIFF unveils Varda, newly renovated cafe-bar to open during the Festival for Members and private events

Toronto’s newest destination for drinks, snacks, and conversation opens to the public this fall

Photo credit: Nick Wons/TIFF
Photo credit: Nick Wons/TIFF

Cameron Bailey, CEO, TIFF, unveiled the name of TIFF’s new café-bar, Varda, named in honour of the celebrated French filmmaker Agnès Varda, whose innovative storytelling and artistic vision have left an indelible mark on cinema. With the bright lights of King Street West as its backdrop, the new café-bar will be open exclusively for Contributors Circle and Patrons Circle Members during the Festival (September 7–17), before its official public launch in early fall, when it will be open to all.

“Agnès Varda was brilliant, playful, and endlessly curious about people,” said Bailey. “We drew inspiration from her in reimagining the 3rd Floor of TIFF Bell Lightbox. We want the new Varda lounge to be your new favourite place to connect with friends, enjoy something delicious, and drink in the rich, global spirit of cinema.”

Varda is the star of the transformed third floor. An elegant marble and cork bar, topped by a polished brass gantry, draws guests into the lounge and sets a glamorous mood. Intimate seating, acoustic wall panelling, and layers of plush textures ensure a quietly luxurious experience. A behind-the-scenes print from the filmmaker’s 1962 French New Wave drama, Cléo From 5 To 7, a gift from her daughter, Rosalie Varda, sets the tone for the space.

Varda (formerly the Bell Blue Room) is one part of a full-scale transformation of TIFF’s third floor. Designed by Toronto-based creative studio DesignAgency, the sprawling corridor and its adjacent spaces are punctuated by new seating areas throughout, creating a welcoming and inspiring space for all film lovers and audiences to gather.

A display of 30 vintage posters representing Canadian and International cinema in the foyer leading to Varda reflects the classic and nostalgic sentiment of cinema and the enduring power of film. Drawn from TIFF’s Reference Library and curated by Bailey and TIFF’s Public Programming team, this permanent display includes a few rare gems. Selected from the Rob Brooks Mary Pickford Collection is an original lithograph from Mary Pickford’s first talking film, Coquette (1929), for which she won an Oscar, and a German-language poster from the Louise Brooks–starrer Pandora’s Box (1929). Clement Virgo’s 1995 film Rude, John Greyson’s Zero Patience (1993), and Alanis Obosawin’s Our People Will Be Healed (2017) are among the Canadian films featured.

Two centrally located floor-to-ceiling vitrines showcase seasonal displays to spark conversation. Currently on view are Outbound, a celebration of the resilience of film, and the second vitrine, a celebration of Canadian cinema, features the Ramona Flowers costume from Edgar Wright’s Toronto-set and cult-favourite film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). The film showcases many Toronto landmarks such as Casa Loma, the CN Tower, and Lee’s Palace, and is much loved by Toronto audiences who rarely have a chance to see their city as itself on screen.

From September 7 to 17, Varda will be open from 9am to 4pm exclusively for Contributors Circle Members and above, as well as Industry filmmakers. TIFF will also host a special open house for all TIFF Members on September 17. Throughout the year, Members will receive up to 40% off food and non-alcoholic beverages as an additional benefit. This fall will also mark the introduction of new Member Tuesdays at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which will offer exclusive access to Varda for Members on that evening to complement a full slate of programming curated with Members in mind. This will include the return of Secret Movie Club, Member-exclusive events, additional free Cinematheque screenings, and more to be announced.

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