Get your movie fix at 35+ film festivals in and around Ottawa

Tired of the selection on Netflix? Dying to snap a photo of a movie star? Want to catch a foreign flick? Then it might be time for a film festival, whether you want to hit the road or stay right here in Ottawa. Here are just a few suggestions. (I’m not saying you will spot George Clooney…but, hey, anything’s possible.)

George Clooney Toronto International Film Festival TIFF 2009

George Clooney amuses the crowds at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Josh Jensen.

  • Canada’s Top 10 Film Festival (January): This event, run by TIFF, showcases movies by leading Canadian directors. (Toronto)
  • Snowtown Film Festival (January): This relative newcomer to the movie event circuit celebrates movies of all sorts and includes a “flannel casual red carpet reception.” (Watertown NY)
  • Aultsville Film Festival (January): This weekend festival of independent movies is a fundraiser for the Aultsville Theatre. (Cornwall)
  • Reelout (January/February): Comedies, dramas, documentaries and other movies with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes are the focus of this annual two-week event. (Kingston)
  • Wakefield Doc Fest (February): This four-weekend festival in the Gatineau Hills screens documentaries from around the world.
Islands and the Whales Intrepid Cinema Wakefield Doc Fest

The Islands and the Whales, a movie about whale hunting in Iceland, was among the films at the 2017 Wakefield Doc Fest. Photo courtesy of Intrepid Cinema.

  • Bright Nights—The Baltic-Nordic Film Festival (February): This Canadian Film Institute (CFI) festival presents movies from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. (Ottawa)
  • Downtown DocFest (March): More than 50 documentaries are regularly screened at this weekend event. (Belleville)
  • Outaouais Film Festival (March): This festival shows short and feature-length films—including fiction, animation and documentaries—from around the world, with a particular emphasis on Outaouais and Quebec movies. (Gatineau)
  • Kingston Canadian Film Festival (March): As the name suggests, this festival focuses on movies made in the Great White North.
  • Canadian Film Fest (March): This event also shines a spotlight on works by Canadian filmmakers. (Toronto)
  • Eve Film Festival (March): This feminist film festival screens sometimes hard-to-find movies by female directors (cis and trans). (Ottawa)
  • Irish Film Festival Ottawa (March/April): This festival shows Irish films, usually including a children’s movie, and often features talks and panel discussions, too.
  • TIFF Kids International Film Festival (April): This fest features films from around the world made for kids, as well as movies made by kids. (Toronto)
  • Latin American Film Festival (April/May): Founded in 1987, this CFI festival screens films made in countries from Mexico to Argentina. (Ottawa)
  • Hot Docs (April/May): Do you love a true story? Then this huge festival of documentary films is for you. (Toronto)
  • Toronto Jewish Film Festival (May): Over 11 days, this event screens features, shorts and documentaries on Jewish themes created by filmmakers around the world.
  • Inside Out: Toronto LGBT Film Festival (May/June): This celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movies is the largest such event in Canada and one of the five top LGBT film fests in the world.
  • Lake Placid Film Forum (June): This event, held in multiple venues in the Adirondacks, includes theatre screenings, movies under the stars, workshops, panel discussions and more. (Lake Placid and other NY towns)

    Nicole Kidman promoting the film The Railway Man at TIFF 2013. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Peter Kudlacz.

  • Israeli Film Festival (June): Presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Israel and the Israeli Cultural Forum, this CFI event focuses on contemporary Israeli films. (Ottawa)
  • Fantasia International Film Festival (July/August): Celebrating genre films from around the world (think science fiction, fantasy and horror, among others), this eclectic festival features both big-budget Hollywood movies and quirky independent films. (Montreal)
  • Animaze: This animation festival includes screenings, talks, a conference and more. (Montreal)
  • Montreal World Film Festival (August/September): This competitive event screens films of all sorts from around the world, including features, short films and documentaries.
  • New York State International Film Festival (September): Short films are the focus at this event, which encourages filmmakers to submit their movies in any genre, from animated movies and musicals to documentaries and horror flicks. (Albany NY)

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by GabboT.

  • Toronto International Film Festival (September): TIFF is one of the world’s largest and most popular movie fests, so book your tickets (and your hotel room) as early as you can. Tickets usually go on sale in early summer. When you’re there, watch Toronto newspapers for the latest details on celebrity sightings and red carpet events.
  • Cinéfest Sudbury (September): Over nine days, this festival presents a diverse range of about 135 features, documentaries, shorts and animated films.
  • Quebec City Film Festival (September): This event screens about 50 features and 120 short films from around the world each year, with a special focus on Quebec movies.
  • Ottawa International Animation Festival (September): The largest event of its kind in North America, this CFI festival brings quirky, innovative animated movies to a variety of downtown theatres.
Danny Glover accepts an award at the Montreal International Black Film Festival in 2013. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Christine Jackowski.

Danny Glover accepts an award at the Montreal International Black Film Festival in 2013. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Christine Jackowski.

  • Montreal International Black Film Festival (September/October): At this event, movie fans can catch documentaries, short films and features focusing on the Black experience around the world.
  • African Film Festival of Ottawa (October): One of the CFI’s newest festivals, this event brings award-winning African films—recognized at TIFF, Cannes, the Oscars and elsewhere—to the capital.
  • Festival du nouveau cinéma (October): Featuring a wide slate of movies in French, English and other languages, this festival screens both cutting-edge fare and big-budget mainstream movies. With lots of workshops and social events, it’s as much about the love of movies as the movies themselves. (Montreal)
  • Toronto After Dark Film Festival (October): Don’t expect to see La La Land or The Hangover at this nine-night festival of sci-fi, horror, action and cult movies.
  • Taiwan Film Nights (October): This CFI series highlights contemporary cinema from Taiwan and is presented in conjunction with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. (Ottawa)
  • Cinéfranco (October/November): Roughly 40 Francophone movies from around the world are featured in this annual festival, which spotlights films rarely shown in Toronto cinemas. (Toronto)
  • Festival Japan (October/November): Admission to these CFI screenings of contemporary Japanese movies is free. (Ottawa)
Alan Rickman Kate Winslet TIFF 2014

Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet at the premiere of A Little Chaos at TIFF 2014. Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Melissa.

  • High Falls Film Festival (November): This one puts the spotlight on women in film—as writers, directors or actors. (Rochester NY)
  • Glimmerglass Film Days (November): This event presents movies that examine humans’ relationship with the natural world and includes a companion program of hikes, bike rides and other outdoor events. (Cooperstown NY)
  • Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (November): Canada’s largest Asian film festival screens movies from East, South and Southeast Asia in a huge range of genres.
  • Montreal International Documentary Festival (November): Known by its French acronym, RIDM, this festival shows more than 100 documentaries annually, and brings together filmmakers and movie fans.
  • Inside Out: Ottawa LGBT Film Festival (November): This weekend-long event is run by the same organization behind the similarly named Toronto festival.
  • Cinemania (November): Movies in this Francophone film fest come from a diverse range of countries—including Canada, of course—and run the gamut from romantic comedies to military adventures. Films are subtitled in English. (Montreal)
  • European Union Film Festival (November/December): This two- to three-week event, one of the CFI’s oldest festivals, features films new to Ottawa and offers special prices for seniors, students and CFI members. (Ottawa)
  • Mirror Mountain Film Festival (December): Do you like your movies to be a bit off the wall? Then this weekend festival of independent, underground and alternative cinema, in genres ranging from documentary to science fiction, will be just the ticket. (Ottawa)

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