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Movie Nation – Top Film Festivals in Canada

March 10, 2020

Toronto International Film Festival neon logo at night for one of the top film festivals in Canada

Riley Contributor Keith Taylor shares his list of the top film festivals in Canada, from the world-famous TIFF to the Whistler Film Festival.


Whether you appreciate films from the comfort of a theatre chair with a fresh bag of buttery popcorn perched on your lap, or from a gap in your blanket while curled up on the couch at home, it’s safe to say everyone appreciates a good movie.

Film can be appreciated on multiple levels, whether as a creator, a viewer, or a reviewer. One of the best places to enjoy a good movie is in Canada. Canada in fact boasts a surprisingly large number of incredible film festivals and filmmakers representing a wide range of genres and styles to suit all fancies, any of which will leave you amazed, inspired, and craving more.

Sit back and mark these important dates for the top film festivals in Canada on your calendar.


Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

Held each September, TIFF is one of the most widely known and most publicly attended festivals in the world and has been inspiring filmmakers and the public for over four decades. Boasting no shortage of genre, theme and excitement among the hundreds of films being featured on over two dozen screens to nearly 500,000 festivalgoers each year, TIFF is also known as a charitable cultural organization that generates an annual economic influence of $189 million CAD.

If festivals aren’t your thing or you can’t make it to this big event in person, TIFF also offers year-round lectures, discussions, workshops, screenings, themed festivals (such as TIFF Kids) and meet-ups with filmmakers from across Canada and the world at their TIFF Bell Lightbox location

For more information on TIFF, TIFF events, and TIFF Bell Lightbox, visit their website at


Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF)

Located in the heart of the Canadian Prairies in the country’s largest northern city, this film festival has a mission of encouraging and supporting the appreciation of cinema. They’ve been achieving this goal for over 30 years now, all made possible by over 150 films from over 50 countries showcasing immense diversity and talent that will have you questioning your views on yourself and the world around you. 

If you’re not already convinced, EIFF is ranked one of the ‘50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee’ by MovieMaker magazine from 2015-17 and has hosted many talented film makers including Jon Cryer, Patrick Warburton and Norman Jewison. EIFF takes place from September to October each year.

To find out more about EIFF, visit their website at


Whistler Film Festival (WFF)

In an area best known for its impressive mountain slopes and vibrant nightlife comes the Whistler Film Festival. Now in its 20th year, WFF is one of Canada’s leading film festivals and has a lot to offer both filmmakers and audience members alike. In 2016 they hosted a total audience of over 13,000 and premiered 86 films selected from over 1000 submissions out of 18 countries and spread out across 11 different categories. Over the course of five days, they will be showcasing talent and potential through an intimate program of screenings, industry initiatives, tributes and special events.

Highlights include the popular ‘Signature Series’ where distinguished artists are recognized and appreciated for their incredible work, with awards and on stage interviews followed by displays of their most recent work. Examples of past honourees include Alan Thicke, Richard Dreyfuss, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bruce McDonald. The festival runs from November to December, and non-members regular tickets are up for sale early in November (while supplies last).

For more information on the Whistler Film Festival visit


Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF)

Set in historic downtown Ottawa, this festival will be one you likely won’t want to miss, especially if your tastes lie less with live action films and more with the world of animation. Taking place each September, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, now in its 44th year, showcases the work of 110 finalists picked from nearly 2000 submissions.

There is plenty tough competition this year with categories for narrative, non-narrative, commissioned, student and feature animation. Along with a variety of categories for types of films there are also an array of styles, including thought provoking pieces, the insanely fun and silly, dazzling art pieces, and even classic cartoons. Other program highlights include a career workshop and an insight into the film world by talented Pixar animator Dave Mullins. If you know any young animation enthusiasts, bring them along for the children’s film competition and programs suitable for young audiences.

For more information on the festival, including types of tickets available, visit the OIAF website at


Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)

This incredible film festival is one of the five largest in North America and this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. Held each September through to October, highlights include programs such as the Impact Stream of Films and the Buffer Festival. The Impact Stream will offer 10 unique and inspiring films that will delve deep into the tough issues of society and change the way you view humanity and the world, while the second – made possible through a partnership with the Buffer Festival – allows a full day of digital first creative story telling from acclaimed YouTube creators. 

Other events to look forward to include the New Frontiers Series: Virtual Reality, featuring immersive virtual reality experiences from leading creators, and immersive talks and workshops with creative leaders and talented industry professionals, including a view of the cinematic world by some of East Asia‘s top artists.  In 2016 VIFF amassed over 130,000 admissions and had 324 films from approximately 70 countries screened.

Tickets are available online starting August, and in-person mid-September at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver.

To find out more about the Vancouver International Film Festival, along with ticket options, visit their website at




Contributor Keith Taylor is a film and video production professional with a penchant for documentaries.

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