Toronto fest's Geddes reclaims Asian films

Donates found films and trailers to university

TORONTO -- The saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure certainly applies to Toronto International Film Festival programmer Colin Geddes.

Geddes has donated about 400 Hong Kong and Taiwanese films and trailers, some rescued from garbage bins behind Toronto's Chinatown cinemas, to the University of Toronto for viewing and study by film students.

The collection of 35mm films and materials recovered by Geddes during 1970s and 1980s represents the early works of acclaimed Asian directors like Wong Kar Wai, Tsui Hark, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ronny Yu Yan-Tai, Ringo Lam and John Woo that once unspooled for local immigrants in between kung fu flicks or comedies at Toronto movie houses.

Some of the film reels were retrieved by Geddes before varied Toronto Chinatown cinemas closed down and were consigned to the wrecking ball. Geddes wants his Asian film archive to be part of the university's media commons, for use by film students.

"Every title seemed like an orphan sent far from home to be appreciated by our city's audiences," he said.

As Toronto's Midnight Madness sidebar programmer, Geddes has built up a large collection of Hong Kong cinema promotional materials, posters, and lobby cards, while introducing emerging Asian directors and their work to North American audiences.