TVO Original Charlotte’s Castle is the story of a cultural hub’s real estate borne crisis, told through one remarkable rental building and its remarkable inhabitants. It chronicles the battle of a quirky cast of unlikely activists who want to hang on to their rented homes against a foreign-owned developer they fear will ruin a cultural landmark, of which they consider themselves the caretakers.
Spadina Gardens, the half-block mid-rise apartment at Spadina and Lowther, built in 1904, is the oldest Toronto building to maintain its original floor plans, not to mention many original details (subway tiles that pre-date the subway by half a century!). Vast, luxurious rental units have drawn an equally eclectic mix of tenants: literary, industrial, operatic, distressed gentlefolk to ascending rock stars.
They embody the creative class who drew developers to Toronto in the first place, driving property values up. But now, though their plight is understandably often overshadowed by harder luck stories, even they are no longer able to afford the city which they helped to enrich.
The struggle over the preservation of Spadina Gardens is emblematic of the battle, secretly at the heart of the national current housing crisis.
“In Charlotte’s Castle, we embarked on a cinematic journey to explore not just bricks and mortar, but the very heart and soul of our communities. This documentary is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who’ve fought for their homes and the preservation of landmark housing. Through this universal story of struggle and resilience, we illuminate the broader housing crisis that touches us all. Because in every brick in every home, there resides a piece of our shared history and future. Charlotte’s Castle reminds us that the preservation of these castles, big and small, is the preservation of our collective identity and the promise of a more equitable tomorrow.” – Director, Jamie Kastner
The film was produced with the participation of Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates and the Rogers Documentary Fund.
Premiere – Toronto screening at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Followed by a Q&A with the director, Jamie Kastner. Joined by Charlotte Mickie and a panel of additional special guests