10 Top Film Festivals In Toronto You Must Know

Toronto is a city that has many things to do and see. From the CN Tower to the Distillery District, there are plenty of Toronto attractions that will make your trip memorable. 

But what about the film festivals in Toronto? 

Toronto has its own film festival scene and it’s growing every year. In this article, we will go through ten of the best film festivals happening in Toronto: starting from the most popular TIFF to other least-popular film festivals.

So, if you love being in the midst of film nerds like yourself, you can check out any of these festivals in Toronto; they are mostly free.

Here are some of our favorite events in this great city.

Overview of Toronto Film Festivals

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the biggest and most popular film festival held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1976 at the Windsor Arms Hotel by Bill Marshall, Henk Van der Kolk, and Dusty Cohl – three veteran movie critics. 

TIFF offers its audiences an opportunity to see many different types of films from around the world, with some focusing on documentaries or dramas. In contrast, others are known for their special effects or action sequences.

Hot Docs and Luminato are the other popular film festivals in Toronto. In addition to screening more than 200 films over the course of 10 days, these festivals also offer panels, Q&As with filmmakers and actors, and a selection of special events.

However, there are more lesser-known film festivals in Toronto which we will show you in this article. These festivals equally make for fun places you can attend with your family.

Related: Music Festivals in Toronto

Quick Tips for Attending Film Festivals in Toronto

Attending a festival in Toronto soon? Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Be prepared to wait in line. Film festivals are about more than just the movies—they’re also about the people who go see them. If you have a film festival schedule planned out, it can be easy to forget that there will be lines and crowds at each event as well.

  • Bring a jacket if it’s cold outside (or bring an umbrella). Most festivals in Toronto happen in the summertime. Even though Toronto is known for its mild summers, sometimes temperatures drop down to single digits or teens during peak season.

    Don’t let this discourage you from attending; just make sure you’re prepared for any weather changes by bringing along layers of clothing that can be layered up or down depending on how chilly it gets during your visit.

  • Don’t forget your ticket. Many events will require tickets before being allowed into their doors. This includes all sorts of things like regular movie screenings or even just attending an off-site screening event happening at another venue outside of where they’re holding their main event themselves.

The following are ten film festivals in Toronto you should check out next summer.

The Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the largest film festival in North America. It takes place over 10 days every September and features hundreds of new movies from around the world, as well as classic movies that you can’t miss. 

TIFF is free for everyone to attend, so it’s a great opportunity to see new films from all over the world without having to pay an arm and a leg for admission or parking fees at another movie theater nearby.

The Toronto International Film Festival also hosts panels where filmmakers discuss their work with other filmmakers, critics discuss what they think about certain films, and stars hang out on red carpets before screenings start up again, later on, that night.

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Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is a film festival that celebrates documentary films from around the world. It takes place in Toronto, Ontario, and has been running since 1993. The festival covers topics like social justice and politics, as well as arts and culture.

The purpose of this festival is to provide filmmakers with an opportunity to share their work with audiences while encouraging them to consider new ways of telling stories through cinema. 

So, if you’re interested in learning more about how filmmakers can use storytelling techniques like sound design or editing in order to tell engaging stories then make sure that your application includes samples from previous projects that illustrate this ability.

The 2023 Hot Docs festival is set for April to May 2023. However, the tickets are not on sale yet. 

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Luminato is a festival of arts and culture that takes place in Toronto over 10 days. It’s held in June, so it’s not only a great time to visit Toronto but also the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of its festivals.

This year’s Luminato lineup features theater, dance, music, and comedy performances from some of Canada’s best artists. Plus there will be a film screening at the festival—as well as plenty of visual art installations.

Luminato 2022 happened in June this year, and reviews revealed that it was a great event. Another event will likely happen in June 2023, in line with the festival’s history.

Buy Tickets to Luminato

indiefilmTO Festival

The indiefilmTO Festival is a free annual event celebrating independent Canadian films. It takes place in Toronto, Canada, and showcases some of the best flicks from around the world. 

It started in 2015 as “pre-TIFF,” a small gathering at the event’s Lightbox; but has since grown into one of the largest independent, non-profit film festivals in North America with an attendance of over 150 people each year.

The festival’s goal is to create a community of filmmakers and artists who come together to share their work with others. It also aims to showcase international films and filmmakers who might otherwise not make it onto the big screen in Canada.

Insomniac Film Festival

The Insomniac Film Festival is a film festival for horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movies. It is held in Toronto every year, with the goal of bringing together the best new work from around the world.

Insomniac Film Festival is a celebration of films that keep you up at night, whether you’re watching them or making them.

It’s a place where you can watch the new films that inspired your favorite movies and shows, and see the short films that will change how you feel about everything.

It’s also a place where filmmakers can get inspired by other filmmakers who are just as passionate about their craft as they are. 

The festival has since grown into one of Canada’s biggest festivals for genre cinema, with more than 100 features screened each year—including many international premieres—and attracting thousands of attendees from around the world.

The festival was hosted online this year on August 5, 2022; and promises to be even better going forward. 

Pendance Film Festival

The Pendance Film Festival is a short film festival held in Toronto in May. It was founded by the Pendance Foundation for the Arts, which also runs other events such as the annual Saigon Street Festival, and has been recognized by various media outlets as one of Canada’s best festivals.

The festival focuses on Canadian independent films and has no entry fee or submission fee; however, there is an application fee of $25 per film to cover processing costs and mailing costs if you submit your work via paper copy instead of emailing it directly from your computer (which many festivals do). 

They provide remote screening rooms where you can watch your favorite films without having to travel anywhere at all.

Future of Film Showcase

The Future of Film Showcase is an annual festival that brings together film lovers, artists, and filmmakers from across the world to showcase their work. The event is hosted for up-and-coming filmmakers to showcase their works in short films.

As its name implies, the festival provides a platform for these newbie filmmakers to gain visibility, mentorship, and other assistance they may need for a successful movie directing career.

The Future of Film Showcase is open to anyone who wants to attend—you don’t need a ticket or registration.

Toronto Independent Film Festival

The Toronto Independent Film Festival (not to be confused with the Toronto International Film Festival) is a great place to see new work by Canadian filmmakers. It takes place in November and features over 50 short films from across the country, including shorts and feature-length movies.

If you’re looking for something more specific than just seeing movies, consider attending one of the events that take place at this festival. 

Here are some highlights:

  • The festival has won awards for its programming and outreach efforts, which include providing free screenings to the public and offering support to filmmakers.
  • The Toronto Independent Film Festival has two main components: a competitive section and an audience award section.

The competitive section accepts submissions from both Canadian and international filmmakers, who submit their short or feature-length films in genres like drama, comedy, horror/thriller/sci-fi, animation, documentary/non-fiction, experimental, and music video. 

While the audience award section is open to any film made by Canadians that was released within a specified period.  The winner will be selected by popular vote during the awards ceremony.

  • The festival takes place every October and showcases the work of independent filmmakers from around the world.

  • Filmmakers who wish to showcase their work at the event will have to pay for a screening slot; this fee ranges from $35 – $85.

Toronto True Crime Film Festival

The Toronto True Crime Film Festival is a three-day event that takes place in April, featuring films about real-life crimes and their perpetrators. This festival has been around since 2012, but it’s become one of the most popular film festivals in Canada. 

Toronto True Crime Film Festival showcases true crime movies, documentaries, and TV series. The festival features screenings of both Canadian and international films, as well as panel discussions with the filmmakers behind them.

Toronto Food Film Fest

The Toronto Food Film Festival is a celebration of all things food, featuring short films and documentaries about food and drink. Held in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, this festival always boasts an array of delicious treats from local restaurants and cafes.

The festival takes place every year in October at various locations in downtown Toronto (including Yonge-Dundas Square). 

Each day features different themes that showcase different types of films: contemporary cooking; gastronomy; history; production/crewing; travelogs; cooking instructionals etc.

There are many great options for watching these movies during your stay in Canada. 2022’s TFFF will happen on October 14 – 17 and will feature great movies about food documentaries.

Who is this event for? Anyone who is a lover of film and food.

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What is the Toronto International Film Festival?

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is held in September and is the largest film festival in North America. The festival has been running since 1976 and it was first held at several different locations around downtown Toronto before it moved to its current home at Harbourfront Centre in 2001.

How Many Films are Screened at TIFF Each Year?

TIFF screens over 400 films every year, ranging from documentaries to narrative features and shorts.

In addition to these main panels and special events, there are also many other smaller screenings throughout town during this time frame as well.

Are Film Festivals in Toronto Free?

The short answer is no.

But there’s a lot to consider when you’re asking whether film festivals in Toronto are free.

You’ll need to pay for travel to the festival, and even if you get in for free, you’ll have to pay for your meals, lodging, and other expenses.

But if you’re just looking for an opportunity to watch some great films, some of the festivals listed on this page might be worth checking out.

Can I Bring My Kids to a Film Festival?

You can absolutely bring your kids to a film festival!

Film festivals are a great way to get your kids interested in movies and the arts.

They can also be a great way to spend quality time with them, and expose them to new ideas and concepts.

It’s important that you prepare yourself for the experience beforehand, and make sure you’re comfortable with all of the content that will be screened at your festival.

You can also make sure to check out the festival’s website or call their office to see if they have any events designed for kids.

Wrapping It Up

Overall, we hope you found this list of the best film festivals in Toronto useful and that we were able to answer any questions you had about attending them. Do you love movies? These food festivals in Toronto that we have listed are sure to give you some great experiences.

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