The best film festivals in Toronto run the gamut from big budget Hollywood extravaganzas to art house screenings. Toronto is home to many of the largest film festivals of their kind worldwide to many of the largest film festivals of their kind worldwide, so fuel up with some popcorn and head to the theatre for some amazing content, offered year-round.
Here are the best film festivals in Toronto.
There are two Toronto seasons that are sure in this life: winter and the Toronto International Film Festival. Descending on the city every September, it’s our pride and joy, and has been described as ‘second only to Cannes.’ At this point, TIFF isn’t a festival, it’s a lifestyle.
Documentary lovers flock to the Annex’s Ted Rogers Cinema every spring for this festival jam-packed with stories about human rights and the human condition. Thanks to its Hot Docs Forum, directors from around the world are able to pitch their films for the chance to win $10,000 for their production.
If you’re a Rom Com kind of person, this one’s not really for you (unless it’s a film about two zombies falling in love). Horror and sci-fi movies take the limelight at this nine-day festival, which quite appropriately takes place in the days leading up to Halloween. Steel yourself, head to the Scotiabank Theatre, and prepare to get weird.
Queer stories take centre stage at Inside Out, screening everything from documentaries about the LGBTQ+ communities to fictional films about gay icons. Born from the Euclid Theatre in 1991, it’s grown over the decades into the largest festival of its kind in the country. Screenings take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox around the end of May.
It’s all about Asian representation at this ten-day festival at the end of the year. Contemporary films, animated movies, documentaries—anything revolving around the East and South Asian experience counts in this curated festival that hits theatres across the city, from downtown Toronto to Richmond Hill.
The largest festival dedicated to Jewish films in the world, TJFF has tripled its number of films since it was founded in 1993. Contemporary Canadian Jewish content is hard to come by, but you’ll find it here, alongside other tales from the international Jewish community.
It only lasts four days, but this September festival dedicated to Palestinian cinema is always full of gems. Offering rare glimpses into life in Palestine and harrowing recountings from the border wall, TPFF also runs panels and an annual Palestinian brunch.
Highlighting movies from all around the world that are 45 minutes or less, this fest is all about short form cinema, because sometimes less is more. Toronto Short takes place in March at Carlton Cinema, arguably one of the coziest theatres in the city.
Though this charity does work year-round, their work culminates with a selection of work made by Indigenous artists from Canada and abroad. It’s not just restricted to film: the festival showcases art in audio and digital media forms too.
Spanning a whole two weeks, this cross-national movie-fest showcases work from all 28 member states of the EU. There are nearly 40 films screened every year—a far cry from the programming offered when it was first fondly known as the “Eh! U Meet the Europeans” festival in 2005.