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(All photos taken by Nick Watson)

There is no denying the impact that David Cronenberg has had, not only on Canadian cinema, but on filmmakers around the world. His dark and often disturbing films examine the limits of human evolution guided by the parameters of pseudo-science, drugs, violence and sex. His characters often undergo some sort of transformation, both physical and transcendental, whether self-imposed, or imposed upon them by the hands of science.

Now, TIFF Bell Lightbox is giving the opportunity to fans and cinephiles alike to explore the world and works of David Cronenberg first hand with a multi-platform exhibition that celebrates not only the films of our most celebrated auteur,  but examines his own evolution as a filmmaker.  TIFF CEO and Director, Piers Handling, and Artistic Director, Noah Cowan, have been working closely with Cronenberg since the organization became a year-round operation in 1990, and Cronenberg was the first filmmaker who was approached and asked to donate materials. According to Handling, “It has been the intent to build up a collection of English Canadian filmmakers material, a true archive of primary source material that researchers, critics and audiences would actually go to for research”. Now the culmination of this relationship is available for everyone to see and experience first hand.


A still from VIDEODROME and the helmut used in the film.

The Cronenberg Project is divided into various parts that compliment one another, however the main component is the exhibition itself, titled David Cronenberg: Evolution. In the main gallery space of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, visitors will enter a world of film exploration unlike any other, a chance to get up close with props and costumes, while taking a chronological tour of Cronenberg’s work with a close examination of the evolution of major themes.

Separated into three chapters, the exhibit begins with Who Is My Creator? which examines Cronenberg’s earliest works up until 1983’s VIDEODROME, a film that explores the fetishizing of violence and an ever growing obsession with our televisions.  It’s in this part of the gallery that we get to see images and notes from the directors often disturbing early films such as THE BROOD, RABID and the explosively bloody SCANNERS.  This is a perfect introduction to Cronenberg’s films and who he is as a filmmaker. It clearly demonstrates the roots of his interest in evolution, which examines scientific horrors as they relate to the human body.


Cronenberg, with Noah Cowan and Piers Handling

Who Am I? is the second chapter that looks at themes of identity with films such as CRASH, EXISTENZ, M. BUTTERFLY and of course, Cronenberg’s bizarre and complex adaptation of WIlliam S. Burroughs’ NAKED LUNCH. Some may say this section contains the pièce de résistance of the gallery, Interzone, a recreation of the “Moroccan” bar from NAKED LUNCH that contains not only a replica of a Mugwump (see photo) you can have your picture taken with, but also the last remaining Mugwump in existence that was restored with the help from the Canadian government. But there is also something to be said about getting to see first hand the Instruments for Operating on Mutant Women and the Mantle Retractor trophy from DEAD RINGERS, which also happens to be my favorite of Cronenberg’s films. Fans of THE FLY can also expect to see the infamous pod as well.

And finally, as Cronenberg begins to examine the exterior and relationships with community, Who Are We? features costumes and props from SPIDER, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, A DANGEROUS METHOD and his most recent work, COSMOPOLIS. This current stage of Cronenberg’s filmic evolution is one that saw one of the greater changes in his work, with the visceral, slithering creatures of yesteryear now gone entirely. Upon exiting the exhibit, a special screening room will showcase two of Cronenberg’s short films, CAMERA and AT THE SUICIDE OF THE LAST JEW IN THE WORLD IN THE LAST CINEMA IN THE WORLD.


The last remaining Mugwump, from NAKED LUNCH.

But the experience doesn’t stop there. On the 4th floor of the TIFF Bell LIghtbox, one can find the curious BMC Lab in partnership with the Canadian FIlm Centre’s Media Lab. The Body/Mind/Change Lab is an interactive experience that users begin at home by exploring a virtual world and answering a series of personally invasive questions about yourself. Then users can come up to the lab and view their very own POD (Personal-on-Demand), a unique 3D rendering based on the answers you provided, that will live in the lab for the duration of the exhibit. Make sure to check out before heading over.

Two exhibits will run in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), David Cronenberg: Through the Eye which will feature artwork by John Massey, Louise Bourgeois and John Scott and select pieces from Cronenberg’s own personal collection. Curated by Cronenberg himself, this exhibit will run until December 29. And David Cronenberg: Transformation, a second exhibit that has been commissioned by TIFF looks at artists who share Cronenberg’s inspirations and fascinations. Running until January 19, 2014, both exhibits are free.


B/M/C lab on the TIFF Bell Lightbox 4th floor extension of the exhibit.

Of course, what David Cronenberg exhibit would be complete without a complete retrospective of his works on the big screen? The Cronenberg Project has two film programs, each with its own unique compliment to the exhibit. Beginning October 31 with DEAD RINGERSFrom Within: The Films of David Cronenberg will be a series dedicated to films by the director.  Many of the screenings will be accompanied by Cronenberg himself and others feature various guests, such as Jeremy Irons, Howard Shore and Guillermo Del Toro.

Then beginning November 2 is a 10-film program curated by Colin Geddes, International Programmer for TIFF, which will feature films from around the world by filmmakers who have been inspired by Cronenberg’s work. This is where the weird, the psychedelic and the bizarre culminate with contemporary films that showcase just how much Cronenberg has influenced the world of film. Featuring the outstanding trip of a Canadian sci-fi film, BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, the utterly absurd Austrailian, BODY MELT and John Carpenter’s frightening remake of THE THING. Psychoplasmic Panic! Cronenberg and the Rise of Body Horror runs until December 21.


Cronenberg himself mugging it up with a Mugwump.

The Cronenberg Project opens November 1 and runs until January 19. The following is a complete breakdown of the Cronenberg screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information and for tickets, please visit


From Within: The Films of David Cronenberg


David Cronenberg | Canada/USA | 1988 | 116 min | R | 35mm

-Thursday, October 31 at 6:30 p.m. *Jeremy Irons and David Cronenberg in attendance!

-Sunday, November 17 at 4 p.m. *With onstage talk by film Scholar Christine Ramsay!

-Tuesday, November 26 at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, January 19 at 7 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/UK/Japan | 1991 | 115 min. | R | 35mm

-Sunday, November 24 at 7 p.m.

-Sunday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. *Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore in attendance!

-Monday, December 23 at 8:45 p.m.

-Sunday, January 12 at 6:30 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1981 | 103 min. | R | 35mm

-Saturday, November 2 at 1 p.m.

-Tuesday, November 19 at 9:15 p.m.

-Sunday, December 22 at 5:45 p.m.

-Saturday, January 18 at 7 p.m.



David Cronenberg | USA | 1993 | 101 min. | 14A | 35mm

-Saturday, November 2 at 3:30 p.m. *Costume designer Denise Cronenberg in attendance!

-Sunday, December 1 at 7 p.m.



David Cronenberg | USA | 1986 | 96 min. | R | 35mm

-Saturday, November 2 at 7 p.m. *Special effects makeup artist Stéphan Dupuis in attendance!

-Saturday, November 23 at 7 p.m.

-Thursday, January 16 at 9 p.m.

-Sunday, January 19 at 1 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1979 | 91 min. | 14A | digital

-Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1983 | 87 min. | R | 35mm

-Sunday, November 3 at 4:30 p.m.

-Sunday, November 24 at 4 p.m. *With onstage talk by Piers Handling!

-Friday, January 17 at 9 p.m



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1975 | 87 min. | 18A | digital

-Sunday, November 3 at 9:30 p.m.

-Friday, November 15 at 8:45 p.m.

-Wednesday, December 25 at 9 p.m.

-Tuesday, December 31 at 6 p.m.

-Saturday, January 11 at 6:30 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1977 | 91 min. | R | 35mm

-Friday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.

-Thursday, December 19 at 9 p.m.

-Monday, December 30 at 9 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/UK | 1996 | 100 min. | 14A | 35mm

-Friday, November 8 at 8:45 p.m.

-Saturday, December 7 at 1 p.m. *Onstage talk with TIFF Bell Lightbox Artistic Director Noah Cowan!

-Sunday, December 29 at 4:30 p.m.

-Saturday, January 4 at 6:30 p.m.



David Cronenberg | USA | 1983 | 103 min. | 14A | digital

-November 9 at 2:30 p.m.

-Friday, January 3 at 9 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1979 | 92 min. | R | 35mm

-Saturday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m.

-Sunday, December 1 at 1:30 p.m. *Onstage talk with Religious Studies scholar Elijah Siegler and David Cronenberg!

-Thursday, January 2 at 9 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/UK/Germany | 2011 | 99 min. | 18A | digital

-Sunday, November 10 at 1 p.m.

-Saturday, November 23 at 2 p.m.

-Sunday, December 8 at 1 p.m. *Followed by a panel discussion with longtime David Cronenberg collaborators costume designer Denise Cronenberg, editor Ron Sanders, composer Howard Shore and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky!



David Cronenberg | Canada/UK/France | 1999 | 97 min. | R | 35mm

-Saturday, November 16 at 7 p.m. *Genie Award-winning production designer Carol Spier in attendance!

-Saturday, January 18 at 1 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/USA/Germany | 2006 | 96 min. | 18A | 35mm

-Friday, November 22 at 9 p.m.

-Saturday, December 7 at 7 p.m. *Genie Award-winning cinematographer Peter Suschitzky in attendance!

-Wednesday, January 8 at 9:30 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/France/Italy/Portugal | 2012 | 109 min. | 14A | digital

-Thursday, November 28 at 9 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada/UK | 2002 | 98 min. | 18A | 35mm

-Saturday, November 30 at 1:45 p.m.

-Sunday, January 5 at 6:30 p.m.



David Cronenberg | Canada | 1970 | 70 min. | PG | 35mm

-Thursday, December 12 at 9:15 p.m.



David Cronenberg | UK | 2007 | 100 min. | 18A | 35mm

-Thursday, November 21 at 9 p.m. * Master Class with Guillermo del Toro and David Cronenberg!

-Thursday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m.

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