UPDATE: We're on track for NOV 7th opening!

Our Market is already online, our festival is now able to provide an online component that opens up viewership while maintaining the excitement of a Hamilton-premiere complete with a release date and time to build excitement! You don't get to 15 years without hard work and innovation so we're not only up to the challenge, we're excited about it! Even if restrictions are lifted and we can gather in one of our historic venues, we'll still bring a portion of our festival to audiences around the world!

We want to maintain the integrity of your film, and our event, by respecting the fact that this is not a "release" and we will treat it as a screening, so not to ruin any chance of a distribution or broadcast deal you may have in the future.

As we are in our LATE DEADLINE now, please use discount code HFFTake15

"Amazing festival! It is Canada’s TriBeCa!" - Filmmaker James Stewart

The 15th Annual Hamilton Film Festival continues to be one of Canada’s most important film festivals for Canadian and International films. Hosted in a city with a booming art scene, it has become a go-to destination to live and work for several people in the film and television industry with year-round opportunities to network, engage, pitch and participate. Distributors, festivals and industry professionals actively look to the Hamilton Film Festival for content, connections and top-notch engagement.

HFF Guests have included Academy Award® winner Colin Chilvers, Daniel Baldwin, DB Sweeney (Fire In The Sky) Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers), Tony Rosato (SCTV), Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Catherine Dyer (Stranger Things) Robert Miano (Donny Brasco), Alex Elena (Drummer for Bruce Dickinson) Jason MacDonald (Vampire Diaries) Frank D’Angelo (Red Maple Leaf), Fred Fuchs (Godfather III Executive Producer, Milton's Secret) Art Hindle (Black Christmas), Doug McGrath (Goin’ Down the Road), Lynne Griffin (Curtains), Julian Richings (Superman: Man of Steel), TJ McGibbon (The Umbrella Academy), Craig Davidson (Author / Rust and Bone) Kirsten Bodenstedt (COO and Co-Owner of Peregrine Labs) Academy Award® winner Colin Doncaster, Bob Munro (The Expanse), Sean Sullivan (Wayne’s World, Back to the Future III) Lisa Langlois (Class of 1984) Dan Lyon (Telefilm), Matthew Willson (Exec. Producer) and many, many more! Filmmakers and producers have attended from England, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Cyprus, Australia, the USA, and all across Canada.

The theme this year is VARIETY! We'll program a bit of everything in our "crystal" year! As we grow, and with more eyes than ever looking at our screens, we really want your best Drama, Comedy, Genre, Documentary, Experimental, Web / Series, Animated and Student films! We are also proud to say that we have reached 50 countries so there is always a place for international films as well!

Think about a variety show, it's a mix of everything! Show us the best of what you've been working on! Reaching 15 years gives us a chance to celebrate all the things we've done, and look forward to what we will become.

We have 15 prize categories, including Jury, Feature, Short, Doc, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Screenplay (x2), Music, Student, Truly Independent local award and the legendary Sparquie the Squirrel award! This year we are adding a Best Sound category.

More prizes will be announced!

The festival is as diverse as our alumni, who come from over 50 countries around the world. Filmmakers globally are looking to the Hamilton Film Festival as an accessible event with multiple chances to screen, network, win awards and gain post-festival promotion as our Alumni is our family and your movie never has a shelf life with us! You’d be surprised how much we remember about you and your film even from our earliest screenings!

We want you to think about disability and film. Specifically we want you to consider the people who are hard of hearing or Deaf. These people want to watch your films! We have a night dedicated to this and have ASL interpreters on sight, something we have been doing for the past 2 years!

The Hamilton Film Festival is again offering a submission discount to films that have English subtitles. Yes, even for English-language films. If your film has (or will have) subtitles please reach out to us prior to submitting and we will offer you a discount code which will apply to both the Hamilton Film Festival screenings and the Canadian Film Market. Contact us directly for the code.

We receive between 400 - 700 films, typically screening around 150 of them, so if your film is good…so are the odds!

We are a festival that is very proud of screening films made by all filmmakers, regardless of gender or race. Everyone has a chance and our programming jury actively looks for LGBTQ, Female filmmakers, Aboriginal filmmakers, and films with disability subjects.

We aim to earn the "Hamilton" in our title so we do our best to make sure there is dedicated screen-time for locally made films! For this reason, films MUST be Hamilton premieres as they will also benefit from free-passes to the entire festival so they can take advantage of all the films, networking and industry development we bring in each year.

To date we have screened 798 Canadian Films!

We are proud to offer, for the fifth year, the Canadian Film Market which runs the final weekend of the festival and will include Industry Development events, quality networking, pitches and more! 50 countries have participated. You should too!

Guillermo Del Toro love’s our city and say’s he’s been watching it since the 90’s and would like to set up his own studio here. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is a major destination for film and television productions. Shows like The Umbrella Academy, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Shape of Water, Spotlight, Crimson Peak, Suicide Squad, The Hulk and Robocop are just a few films that have taken advantage of Hamilton’s many incredible locations. Producers love the additional tax credits, Directors love the “anywhere is here” look of the city, and people love seeing it on screen! You will also have the opportunity to meet with the people who run the film office, should you wish to film in our great city!.

Filmmakers around the world are choosing the Hamilton Film Festival as a required stop, and we want YOU to be a part of this growing scene that is on the verge of expanding into a not-so-hidden gem! See you, and your film, in Hamilton this November!

Jury Choice
Truly Independent
Best Film (Feature)
Best Short
Best Documentary
Best Screenplay (for a submitted film)
Best Screenplay (script submission)
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Music
Best Sound
​Best Special FX
Best Student
Sparquie the Squirrel
(the most electrifying film in honour of a squirrel who knocked out the power during our gala in 2012. Sparquie did not make it but his legacy lives on)

Film Challenge
($6000 value) Gear Rental certificates prize value

Each film accepted receives a pass to attend all films, panels, and events!
($15000 total value from approx. 150 passes at $99each)

The top three (3) screenwriting contest winners get a prize package that includes one (1) InkTip script listing and one (1) InkTip magazine listing to promote yourself and your script to InkTip's large network of producers and reps.

Listings also for Best Feature, Best Short and Best Screenplay

Every InkTip producer has been vetted via resume and references and demonstrated the ability to get movies made. Companies who are InkTip members include ABC, Anonymous Content, APA, CBS Films, HBO Films, ICM, Paradigm, Paramount Pictures, Hallmark Channel, FX, Universal, WME, Echo Lake, Zero Gravity, Bad Robot, and 20th Century Fox.

TERMS for 2020.

It is recommended that you print this / view this and check off all the requirements one at a time, make notes, before submit and/or contact us with questions.

All film lengths and genres will be considered. Selection is at the final discretion of the programming team. VARIETY is the main theme this year, so whatever your genre, we'll have a look!

We REQUIRE a Hamilton Ontario area premiere status. Films that have, or will, screen in the Hamilton area prior to this festival will not be selected. Special circumstances may be considered. The festival is rapidly growing and your film will have greater publicity, and opportunities exclusive to HFF that you may miss out on. By considering our event as your primary festival in the area, you are making a choice that will benefit your film and connections. All selected films get special access passes, opening up your visit to any opportunities we bring. And we do bring them!
(Toronto is not included as being in our area) If you have questions about this, contact us.

Either one, or both! The Film Festival is for public screenings and the Film Market is a private exchange of information and screeners to industry professionals. The Festival is juried, the Market is automatically accepted.

Hamilton Film Festival
Public screenings, Juried selections, ALL selected films get a special pass for films and events.

Canadian Film Market
Not public, not juried, automatically available for online screening access to industry professionals / distributors / agents, ALL entries will get a special pass for special events, screenings and Market Guide access (industry contacts and participants)
If submitting to the Canadian Film Market, your contact information will be added to the Market Guide, should an industry professional wish to access this. If entering the Market, you will also get a contact guide so that you may reach out to the industry professional.

The Canadian Film Market and the Hamilton Film Festival make NO guarantees that your film will be acquired (MARKET) or selected (FESTIVAL).

By submitting, you agree that you have full rights to be able to submit your work, for viewing in either the CANADIAN FILM MARKET or the HAMILTON FILM FESTIVAL, and that you have obtained all necessary rights to be able to submit for exhibition.

Once a film is programmed in the FESTIVAL it may NOT be removed. If you want to remove your film you MUST do it before the final deadline. After the final deadline, a film is considered entered and we will begin programming immediately, at our discretion. You will get a FilmFreeway notification from us with possibly no further contact as to your inclusion in the festival. Please check you snap filters. Once a film is programmed, you will receive a welcome email from FilmFreeway via the HAMILTON FILM FESTIVAL with all the information you need to attend and any further materials if needed.

We prefer to view online screeners only.

If you must mail a screener, please contact us

Currently, Bluray and file format (Quicktime, Mpeg, Mov)
DCP may be an option once we know what films go which theatres with DCP capability.

If you do not supply us with an Exhibition copy by the deadline, we will screen the version we have. Please note: If you want us to use a VIMEO for exhibition, make sure your profile allows the DOWNLOAD option.

Delivery details will be listed in your acceptance letter and will include request for press access / screeners and links to excerpts for press.

We are a truly independent film festival that does not receive any arts grants to loans. Think of HFF as a Trade Show for exhibiting, networking, industry development and audience building. For that reason, we are a service-based arts event. For those accepted, that service includes a theatrical screening in one of our amazing venues, a $200 value access-pass to public screenings (many festivals only offer a ticket to your own screening program) promotion & visibility, post-fest alumni promotion, access to industry professionals, quality networking and engaging experiences. We also have prize opportunities, official laurels and some year-round opportunities that come our way! (For example, we have worked with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra to book HFF alumni filmmakers who create original films to be screened with a live orchestra) We are also in touch year-round with many organizations that hire filmmakers, or offer paid screenings and we look directly our alumni to give back those opportunities.

While we will do everything we can to protect your information, what happens with it when another person has it in their possession (like a film guide, or screener access) it is impossible for us to manage and therefor, The Hamilton Film Festival and the Canadian Film Market, and it's employees and volunteers can not be held liable for what happens to your information once released via your screener and Market Guide.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing your work at the 15th Annual Hamilton Film Festival and the 3rd Canadian Film Market.

Q) Why would I want to submit to both FESTIVAL and MARKET?
A)Having a selection in the festival tells buyers that your film has been filtered by a jury of
your peers.

Q) Why would I NOT want to be in the MARKET?
A) You may already have distribution and you may also have a strategy that includes festivals only.

Q) Why would I opt into the MARKET only, not the FESTIVAL?
A) You may not want your film displayed to the public and may wish to keep your premiere status for another festival. Your contact info and screener is for the Canadian Film Market participants only. Participants will be know as the year rolls out.

Q) If I submit to the Canadian Film Market, do I pay extra for the Market Guide
No, your submission includes the Market Guide which is typically released a few weeks prior to the beginning of November.

Overall Rating
  • Olivia Fasullo

    An incredible festival! Every aspect was so professional and well managed, especially considering the circumstances of 2020. They were still able to create an atmosphere of excitement around the festival and have fun, safe events for people to watch our film. Our whole cast and crew were very proud to be part of this festival.

    January 2021
  • This was such and amazing festival. Due to Covid they made a bad situation into such a great situation. Moving the premiere to the drive on was a ounce in a lifetime experience. Being able to see my short film on a drive in screen created a great memory for me and my friends. Looking forward to next years. Thanks to the team at HFF.

    January 2021
  • Scott Paterson

    Such a great festival! We were so excited to have our film "The Beacons of Gondor" show at Hamilton Film Festival! We were thrilled to find out we were also nominated for the SPARQUIE THE SQUIRREL Award. Thank you Hamilton Film Festival-Canadian Film Market! Great communication, we were always kept up to date, wonderful people!

    December 2020
  • Daniel Talbott

    This is an incredible festival run by wonderful folks and filmmakers. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it this year and that my feature screenplay GRAY won their 1st Prize. Definitely submit your work and hopefully 2021 will be able to be in person. Stay safe you all. :)

    November 2020
  • Cailleah Scott-Grimes

    Had a fantastic experience at this festival! Obviously it was a huge challenge to run it virtually this year, and Nathan Fleet & the team did a great job of making it still feel celebratory and personal. Lots of interaction and support via social media. The quality of the programming exceeded expectations. Thank you!

    November 2020