Can’t make it to the Toronto International Film Festival? No worries! Try one of these fabulous film festivals instead.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the city’s biggest and best-known celebration of cinema, but local and visiting film buffs have loads of other options, too. Whether you’re looking for pure entertainment or intellectual enlightenment, you’re sure to find something in this roundup of the city’s best bets for movie magic.
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
September 21–25, 2022
To mark its 15th anniversary, this volunteer-run celebration of Palestinian arts and culture showcases a selection of films, performances, discussions, studio visits and even an Instagram takeover—all of which explore the vibrant traditions and practices shared by members of the Palestinian diaspora.
ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
October 18–30, 2022
In-person screenings are a magical way to come together as a community, but at-home viewing has its fans too (pyjamas #FTW!). That’s why the team at ImagineNATIVE is offering a hybrid festival this year. From October 18–23, events will take place in person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and Artscape Sandbox, while the final week of programming will unfold online and over streaming platforms. It’s a smart, accessible strategy to ensure as many people as possible can experience the world’s leading festival of film and video by and about Indigenous Peoples and culture.
Toronto After Dark Film Festival
October 19–23, 2022
Calling all fans of things that go bump—or zap, or biff, bam, pow!—in the night: TADFF is your ticket for niche genre films, from kitschy sci-fi to quirky kung-fu to creepy horror B-movies. This year, the fest returns to in-person screenings at the Scotiabank Theatre, where audiences can take in five days of features and shorts, Q&As with cult heroes, a much-loved zombie-themed night and other offbeat highlights.
Rendezvous with Madness Festival
October 27–November 6, 2022
The city’s ground-breaking festival of art, performance, film and discussions about mental health and addiction returns with a smart and engaging roster of online and in-person programming. The fest is one of the cornerstones of Workman Arts, a Toronto-based organization dedicated to supporting and amplifying the voices of creators who have lived experience with substance use and complex mental health needs.
Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
November 9–20, 2022
This wildly anticipated festival, which turned 25 last year, is a bonanza of movies, animation, exhibitions and conceptual installations by Asian artists and members of the Asian diaspora. Though the themes, formats and content of the work can be wildly, exhilaratingly varied, the festival is committed to showcasing contemporary Asian film and to celebrating the expansiveness of contemporary Asian culture.
Toronto Black Film Festival
February 15–20, 2023
Now entering its second decade, this fab not-for-profit is the younger sister of Montreal’s International Black Film Festival—both of which, along with their other siblings (which include fests in New York and Halifax), were created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, Canada’s largest Black cultural organization. Operating with a mandate that “greater knowledge leads to greater understanding,” the TBFF is ground zero for leading-edge documentaries, feature films and even special content for kids, all grounded in the idea of showcasing diverse and visionary work for, about and by Black creators and communities.
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 27 to May 7, 2023
The Hot Docs tagline is, simply, “Outspoken. Outstanding.” A description on its official website is a bit more specific: “Inspiring change through storytelling.” Together, these two phrases capture the essence—and the magic—of North America’s largest festival (and conference and deal-making destination) for all things documentary. Highly recommended for anyone who knows that truth can be stranger—or at least more compelling—than fiction.
Inside Out Film and Video Festival
May 25 to June 4, 2023
Since 1991, this bold fest has been breaking down barriers, confronting discrimination and facilitating advocacy by supporting filmmakers and showing film and video work from the 2SLGBTQ+ community. As societal attitudes—and the community itself!—have evolved, the festival has grown and flourished, but it has stayed true to its commitment to “challenge attitudes and change lives.”
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
June 1, 2023 - June 11, 2023
Over the past 30 years, the TJFF has cultivated a dedicated and diverse following of avid fans—its mission has always been to be a “Jewish film festival and not just a film festival for Jewish people.” Its expansive programming can include everything from lauded arthouse features to limited-run TV series, all of which aim to explore the diversity and complexity of Jewish life and culture worldwide. The TJFF is also committed to accessibility, offering ASL interpretation and screenings targeted toward people with sensory processing sensitivities during its in-person events.