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 27 to October 1, 2023
To mark its 16th 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 17 to October 29, 2023
Now gearing up for its 23rd year, ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest festival showcasing film, video, audio, digital and interactive media made by Indigenous screen-content creators.
The festival presents work by creators from a wide number of nations, reflecting the diversity of Indigenous perspectives from around the world.
Rendezvous with Madness Festival
October 10–20, 2023 (tentatively)
The city’s ground-breaking festival of art, performance, film, and discussions about mental health and addiction returns with a smart and engaging online and in-person programming roster.
Rendezvous with Madness Festival is one of the cornerstones of Workman Arts, a Toronto-based organization dedicated to supporting and amplifying the voices of creators who have lived experiences with substance use and complex mental health needs.
Toronto After Dark Film Festival
October 18–23, 2023
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.
Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
November 2023 dates TBA
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
2024 dates TBA
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), was 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
2024 dates TBA
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
2024 dates TBA
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 Inside Out Film and Video Festival has grown and flourished, but it has stayed true to its commitment to “challenge attitudes and change lives.”
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
2024 dates TBA
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.