Toni Ruberto

Buffalo is full of people helping to cultivate cinema and we want to celebrate those involved. The Cultivators is a new monthly feature in which we highlight individuals who are integral to the presentation, promotion and production of film here in the queen city.

Photo by A.A. Augustine.



Editor of Gusto / Journalist – The Buffalo News
Twitter: @ToniRuberto


What got you interested in movies?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in movies. My earliest memories all revolve around watching films with my family; classics with my mom and Grandma Ruberto (she always watched them in the dark) and old monster, B-movies and disaster films with dad. When they were on late he would let me sneak out of bed—my mother always caught us. Dad taught me you could enjoy any movie, even the bad ones, and that has shaped me as a film lover.

What is your favorite movie related memory?

Our family—the nephews, dad etc.—had a long-standing tradition of going to the midnight showing on opening night for movies including all The Lord of the Rings films. We were dorks, but there is something oddly life-affirming about leaving a movie theater energized at 3 a.m.

My favorite movie theater memory was being so engrossed in James Cameron’s Aliens that when they said “Can’t be, that’s inside the room,” I looked up at the movie theater’s ceiling for the aliens in unison with Sigourney Weaver doing the same in the movie. It was freaky.

How did you end up in Buffalo?

I was born and raised in South Buffalo. I never realized it was weird that we lived there but weren’t Irish until I grew up.

What do you want to see more of in Buffalo?

Just five years ago I would have begged for more movie options that aren’t first-run Hollywood films (classic, independent, specialty, retro movie nights, etc.). That’s happening now, but we need more support for events like these screenings and for local bands, plays, etc. A thriving arts scene makes Buffalo a better place to live.

What are your essential film books?

  • Our Movie Heritage by Tom McGreevey and Joanne L. Yeck. A very good book about film history and preservation.
  • The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films by Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes. A comprehensive history of this great studio disguised as a coffee table book.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut by Francois Truffaut. (Simon & Schuster). So much of what is commonly known about Alfred Hitchcock today first came to light in the 50 hours of interview between the master and French director/film critic Francois Truffaut.

Here are 10 movies I watch every time they’re on TV—and I own a copy, too. (In alphabetical order.)

  • Mysterious Island [1961], directed by Cy Endfield
    • Giant bees, creatures by Ray Harryhausen, Captain Nemo and music by Bernard Hermann—it has everything.
  • Near Dark [1987], directed by Kathryn Bigelow
    • This atmospheric and bloody vampire western has my favorite final line in any movie.
  • Picnic [1955], directed by Joshua Logan
    • I get pulled into 1950s Kansas every time where I can hang out with Kim Novak and William Holden.
  • Pride & Prejudice [2005], directed by Joe Wright
    • I hope I don’t have to give up my Colin Firth fan club card for admitting this is my favorite adaptation of the novel.
  • Random Harvest [1942], directed by Mervyn LeRoy
    • I wish every time I saw this it was the first time so I could be still shocked at the big reveal.
  • Remember the Night [1940], directed by Mitchell Leisen
    • Sentimental and old-fashioned, it’s my favorite Christmas movie.
  • Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope [1977], directed by George Lucas
    • Empire Strikes Back is the best and Rogue One the bravest, but this is the true original.
  • Tarantula [1955], directed by Jack Arnold
    • My favorite giant creature movie.
  • Thor: The Dark World [2013], directed by Alan Taylor
    • It’s just a lot of fun—with a special nod to Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
  • You’ve Got Mail [1988], directed by Nora Ephron
    • I don’t care if it’s already outdated, it’s wonderful. There’s not a character or actor wasted. We miss you Nora.

Film stills from left to right, top to bottom are Lord of the Rings and Aliens.

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