19 years of the Hamilton Film Festival and we've hit the TOP 100 best reviewed festivals status a few times on FilmFreeway, and we are also a Canadian Screen Award Qualifying festival.

We accept all genres including short, mid-length, feature, episodic / series, and screenplays. We have paused our themes this year and our focus is simply on great independent movies!

We will be accepting movies a month earlier than usual, and closing a month earlier so please familiarize yourself with our new dates.

A initiative we started during the pandemic will continue. NO MORE LATE FEES! ONE TIER, ALL YEAR, is GOLD! That means there will be NO inflated fees based on when you submit. Fees will be the same from open to close. For a festival our size, we offer some of the lowest fees around.

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 19% discount off submission fees.

Those familiar with our dates know that we have been running in November since 2008. Going forward, the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre will be our home base each October as we share this wonderful centre with many organizations and the late October dates are available to HFF. This is also the centre where we run our small film school.

The 19th Annual Hamilton Film Festival continues to be an important film festival in Canada, for Canadian and International films as it has an industry development component, and a market. We programs over 100 independent films which means there is plenty of room for great indies! We are not part of any distribution circuit and so our screens are dedicated to the indie filmmaker!

Hosted in a city with a booming film 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!

The Hamilton Film Festival has a school of media arts inside the new Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre where will will host classes, camps, workshops and panel discussions year round. We will also utilize this learning space during the festival!

HFF Guests have included Academy Award® winner Colin Chilvers, Kim Coates (Sons Of Anarchy) Juno Rinaldi (Working Moms), 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), Danial Baldwin, 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 14 prize categories, including, Feature, Short, Doc, Performance(2), Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Screenplay (x2), Music, Student, Production Design, 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, 2SLGBTQIA+ filmmakers, filmmakers with disabilities, and female filmmakers.

The Hamilton Ladies of Film & Television (L.O.F.T.) is excited to partner with the Hamilton Film Festival for their 2024 season as they support our mandate to achieve gender parity within our city and the Canadian film industry. In 2021 They hosted their debut at the 16th Annual Hamilton Film Festival that included a screening of films made by female identifying filmmakers, and a panel discussion.

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 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 998 Canadian Films!

We are proud to offer, for the eight 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)

Truly Independent
Best Film (Feature)
Best Short
Best Documentary
Best Screenplay (for a submitted film)
Best Screenplay (script submission)
Best Performance in a feature
Best Performance in a short
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Music
Best Sound
Best Production Design
Best Special FX
Best Emerging Film
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.

Details coming soon for Ink Tip's 2024 prize. As an InkTip Pro Member, thousands of filmmakers can find and read your scripts, and you'll be able to pitch directly to production companies every week. With over 3,000 options and 400 movies made, InkTip is the place for independent film.

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 2024.

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. Sports is the theme this year but we will accept and screen films from all genres.

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 will be included in a market guide for industry to access.

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. There may be private Market Only events that you will also gain access to.

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 junk 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.
We will also not accept links through our social media channels. Everything MUST go exclusively through FilmFreeway.

File formats such at a high resolution mpeg, mov, quicktime and your screener link may be sufficient in some cases.

DCP is the primary option for feature length movies.

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 operates similar to a Trade Show for exhibiting, networking, industry development and audience building. We are a service-based arts event. For those accepted, that service includes a theatrical screening in one of our amazing venues, up tp $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 18th Annual Hamilton Film Festival and the 8th 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 occasionally partner 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 and we will decide on a case-by-case method.

Overall Rating
  • Jason MacDonald

    My 3rd time at this wonderful festival! Such great people!! Highly recommend!

    November 2023
  • I was so honoured to have my film "Les Filles du Roi" selected and win the award for BEST MUSIC! Thank you so much.

    November 2023
  • Mark Forler

    Awesome, well run festival!

    November 2023
  • Tee Schneider

    Our team had a lovely time at HFF and really appreciated the feeling of being appreciated and respected as filmmakers. An excellent festival to attend.

    November 2023
  • Peter Mazzucco

    Nathan Fleet and the team at Hamilton Film Festival programmed a great film festival, from start to finish. The opening night gala and screenings was fun, the networking events invaluable, the choice of films was inspiring, and the themes of each screening, as well as the entire festival made the entire experience memorable. I will be back next year, even if I don’t have a film screening at the festival. Thanks, Peter Mazzucco (Producer “Just Say It”).

    November 2023