Now we can drive!
16 years at the Hamilton Film Festival and we've hit the TOP 100 best reviewed festivals status a few times on FilmFreeway!

The industry is watching, filmmakers are looking our way, and we aim to deliver!

Never a dull one. We managed to pull off a wonderful, hybrid, festival in 2020 that included limited-seating theatrical, the Drive-In, broadcast, and online screening and panel discussions. We know we are able to successfully pivot if needed, and can’t wait to see what YOU bring to our Sweet 16 party this November!

The theme of the festival this year is COMING OF AGE, with the tagline “Now We Can Drive.” This will be a strong theme throughout the festival, from our Sweet 16 kick off, to our closing films. We'll even be asking the selected filmmakers to dig up a photo of themselves at age 16 for a fun photo montage! Let have some fun this year. You deserve it!

You are welcome to submit movies and scripts that are outside of this theme as we always host programs of comedy, drama, genre, and documentaries. We accept short, mid-length, feature, episodic / series, and screenplays.

We know that 2020 was a tough one. This year, we are eliminating ALL deadline price levels and are going with a single, regular deadline, all year.
GOLD members on FilmFreeway will be able to take advantage of our additional Gold Member discounts. Following us on social media is beneficial as throughout the year we post limited time / quantity discount codes that will offer a 16% discount off submission fees.

The 16th 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.

Included in your submission fee is the option to become a delegate at our networking and meet-up events, at no extra charge. So even if you film is not accepted, you can still participate and take advantage of the networking and industry development that HFF has to offer!

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), 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.

We have 15 prize categories, including Jury, Feature, Short, Doc, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Screenplay (x2), Music, Student, Truly Independent local award, and the legendary Sparquie the Squirrel award!

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 have screened many films from BIPOC and LGBTQ filmmakers, with spotlights on films from these communities, as well as integrating them into our themed programming.


The Hamilton Ladies of Film & Television (L.O.F.T.) is excited to partner with the Hamilton Film Festival for their 2021 season as they support our mandate to achieve gender parity within our city and the Canadian film industry.

The Hamilton Ladies of Film & Television (L.O.F.T) is a Hamilton based collective founded and co-created by local artists Laura Ellis, Alysha Main, and Cher Obediah. The Hamilton L.O.F.T seeks to bring together womxn* working in all disciplines of filmmaking.

To create/support content that is predominantly female-driven with a focus on overcoming issues/barriers within the film industry affecting womxn and underrepresented minorities

Assist in building the skills and confidence of womxn by working in cross-disciplinary and supportive teams while providing affordable training opportunities with mentors in the film community

Demonstrate that a local all-female identified production team is achievable

Showcase the achievements of womxn in Hamilton’s film industry

Partner with local organizations to provide mutual support and opportunities for womxn by sharing knowledge, tools, and holding networking events

*The Hamilton L.O.F.T. uses an all-emcompassing definition of “womxn/woman/female/lady” which includes but is not limited to cis, trans-identifying, non-binary, and other.

We are excited to officially launch in spring of 2021 and look forward to working with many of the talented womxn in Hamilton that we know, that we love, and those we have yet to meet.


We want you to think about disability and film. Specifically we want you to consider people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
The Hamilton Film Festival is again offering a submission discount to films that have Descriptive Subtitles. These are captions that include dialog, sound fx and music, in the descriptions.

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 with SUBTITLE DISCOUNT in the title.

We receive between 400 - 700 films, typically screening around 100-150 of them, so if your film is good…so are the odds.
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 sixth year, the Canadian Film Market which runs during the festival, and includes Industry Development events, quality networking, pitches and more! 50 countries have participated.

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 Queen’s Gambit, 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 expanding into a not-so-hidden gem! See you, and your film, in Hamilton this November!

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

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 (pending safety restrictions)
($6000 value) local Gear Rental certificates prize value

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 2021.

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

All film lengths and genres will be considered. Selection is at the final discretion of the programming team. COMING OF AGE is the over-arching theme this year. Our Sweet 16!

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 first festival stop 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 and inclusion.

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 view online screeners only. No physical copies.
If you feel 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 or arts loans. 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 and opportunities, and we look directly our alumni, to make these connect. All of the above are not guaranteed, but offered at the sole discretion of Hamilton Film Festival LTD. Terms may change, without notice.

While we will do everything we can to protect your information, what happens with it when another person, or company, 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 LTD, and it's employees, and volunteers, can not be held liable for any damages that may occur. By submiting to the Hamilton Film Festival, you agree to these terms.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing your work at the 16th 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, or pending distribution, and you may also have a strategy that includes film festivals.

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) Do you pay for travel, food, lodging?
A) The Hamilton Film Festival can not provide this. We do work with the local hospitality industry and we may have access to discounts. This varies each year so please reach out if you plan to attend.

Overall Rating
  • Had an amazing experience! Honestly one of the best festivals for independent filmmakers in Ontario. The festival found creative ways to continue film exhibition during the pandemic.

    November 2021
  • Teresa D'Elia

    HFF is an amazing festival! Extremely well organized, awesome venues and wonderful audiences!!

    November 2021
  • This was our first in person screening since covid. It was amazing to be in a room with a live audience and hearing them react to our film. An experience ill never forget. The venue its hosted at (the Staircase) is cool as F. The vibe, the drinks and food were great. Thank you so much for hosting Red String and giving us the emerging artist award. We will definitely come back with our future projects.

    November 2021
  • Cynthia Crofoot

    This was an amazing festival and I am so happy that my script "Bracewater" was one of the top ten finalists. It was a great honor to place so well among so many wonderful scripts. The networking opportunities were great and the festival was very well run, with amazing communication. Can't wait to next year when I can (hopefully) participate again - this time in person.

    November 2021
  • Mythic Trips

    Such a great time, so well organized and professional!

    November 2021