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(1946-06-12) June 12, 1946 (age 76)
Minto, New Brunswick, Canada
Beginning in 1965, Hartt originally screened his films in rented locations. These included the Bathurst Street Church and the Spadina Hotel, as well as Sneaky Dee's, Rochdale College, and locations on Queen Street West and Mirvish Village. From 1970 to 1975 he served as Director of Cinema Studies at Toronto's Rochdale College. He has lectured at art galleries, colleges, museums, schools, theatres, and universities across Canada and in the United States.
Since 1992 he has shown the movies in the front parlor of his Bathurst Street home. A neon sign reading "Cineforum" placed in the front window indicates his presence. An inscription in ancient Greek over the front door reads, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." Hartt's characteristic black and white typewriter-text-with-film-stills advertising posters are ubiquitous around downtown Toronto to the point where they were used as part of the background of a comic book cover.
The films he screens are generally old and tend to the bizarre; typical programs include "the anarchist surrealist hallucinatory film festival" featuring works of Man Ray, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, or "the sex and violence cartoon festival", featuring racy Bugs Bunny cartoons, including some of the infamous Censored Eleven. Other offerings include "Kid Dracula" (Murnau's Nosferatu set to Radiohead's Kid A) and a clean print of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. Although met with controversy, his screening of Triumph of the Will is understood to be educational and has been described as such by Bernie Farber (former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress), and author Jane Jacobs, among others. His collection includes many rare items and he has also screened rare films by Winsor McCay and Mike Jittlov.
Past presentations have included guest programmers. The complete Zatoichi film franchise series was hosted by Grey Coyote of Paradise Bound Music. Charlie Huisken of This Ain't the Rosedale Library is a frequent guest programmer, as was Jamie Ross, Andre Skinner of Canteen Knockout. Nima Hoda did an in-depth look at the music of Bernard Herrmann for Jason and the Argonauts.
Hartt is known for delivering inspired addresses on the subject of Jesus Christ, cartoons, or anecdotes concerning his varied life experiences as a prologue to, or during the breaks in his longer programs. His residency at Rochdale College, where he was director of cinema studies, is the topic of a spoken word performance, and he has hosted some of the city's most notorious poetry readings. Hartt has been host to many famous artists and writers, including writer John Robert Colombo, film historian Elwy Yost, rock journalist Al Aronowitz, Jane Jacobs, science-fiction writer Judith Merril, British artist Peter Moore, Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, Grim Natwick, Shamus Culhane, Bernard B. Brown, and Pierre Berton, who gave his last public reading at the Cineforum.