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Canadian Film Festivals

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/7/2011

Canadian film festivals are as varied and widespread as the Great White North itself. Industry professionals, film critics, cinematography students, and movie fans all have the opportunity to take part in many of the highly acclaimed festivals described here.

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    Cinematic Magic Abounds in Canada

    Canadian film festivals offer something for everyone. Canada has been the backdrop for a vast number of films and television programs for many years now, thanks to the fact that it’s cheaper to film there and the Canadian government offers tax breaks to lure industry professionals in to make their movies there. Therefore, while audiences are engrossed in a movie that is supposed to take place somewhere in the United States or elsewhere, they’re really looking at Canadian scenery. If you want a good overview of why such functions are held annually, read The Purpose of Film Festivals to understand the role they have in marketing, public relations, education, gathering talent, and showcasing foreign cultures.

    Let's begin with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which has been dedicated to showcasing the best international and Canadian films to its audiences for the last 35 years. This festival has grown so prolific that it essentially offers programming to cinema lovers 365 days a year. Apart from screening all kinds of films of different genres, workshops, lectures, and discussions are held throughout the year so that film lovers and filmmakers can meet and together form a different (perhaps more enlightened) perspective of the world at large. Find out everything you need to know about this creative whirlwind that ignites Toronto with a love for cinema by reading The Toronto International Film Festival: Tips on Entering Your Film in the Festival.

    Toronto is also the home of funny in films. Giggleshorts is one of the world's largest international comedy short film festivals. Submissions to this comedy film festival must be less than 15 minutes and the best (whether it’s a spoof, sketch, short comedy film, or animations) will be screened when they hold the festival in late January every year. Toronto also hosts the World Comedy Film Festival which is a not-for-profit independent event that offers screenings, workshops, and classes in March when it’s held. Its mission is to cultivate and advance comedy film making in Canada. While we’re on the subject of comedy, we should also point out the world renowned Eat My Shorts film festival that accompanies the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival every July over in Montreal. This one draws in the big talent scouts in the industry.

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    Adventure Films, Documentaries, and More

    Banff, Alberta is just barely outside the eastern border of BC, situated high in the Canadian Rockies. This legendary resort town has long been a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts due to its astounding views, alpine atmosphere, and the steep and challenging slopes. So every late October to early November the Banff Mountain Film Festival showcases the best in mountain and adventure films that are guaranteed to feature cutting edge access into the nether reaches of the world, captured by adventure/extreme filmmakers. The Banff Centre will provide all the details for this competition that always brings about submissions from the world’s best movie makers in this niche.

    The province of British Columbia is also home to a vast array of film making and cinema screening opportunities. That’s why we have a whole article dedicated to what you’ll find there called Film Festivals in British Columbia. There, you’ll find information, dates, and links to the BC Student Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, and Victoria Film Festival.

    This article is by far not an exhaustive list of Canadian film festivals but rather highlights some of the major ones to give you an idea of how prevalent and enthusiastic cinema makers and fans are in Canada. For a comprehensive list of every festival with convenient links to find out more, visit Queen’s Film and Media.