“This fest is sure to become the next TIFF if it keeps up this caliber of cinema heaven.” - John Nicol / Filmmaker

The 12th Annual Hamilton Film Festival continues to be one of Canada’s most important up-and-coming film festivals. This year’s festival will feature over $25,000 in prize value, plus the opportunity to network with, and pitch your films, scripts and projects. Distributors actively look to the Hamilton Film Festival for titles and we will be releasing a list of films acquired during the 2016 festival.

Guests have included Academy Award® winner Colin Chilvers, Daniel Baldwin, Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers), Tony Rosato (SCTV), Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Robert Miano (Donny Brasco), 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), Kirsten Bodenstedt (COO and Co-Owner of Peregrine Labs) Academy Award® winner Colin Doncaster, Bob Munro (VFX Supervisor), Sean Sullivan (Wayne’s World, Back to the Future III) Lisa Langlois (Class of 1984) and many, many more! Filmmakers and producers attended from Italy, Germany, Austria, France, the USA and all across Canada.

We have 14 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!

For the first time ever we will have a theme to the festival. MUSIC will be at the forefront this year with live performances (related to film), composing panels, music discussions and guests and of coarse, a spotlight on the music in the movies we are screening!

As a “Truly Independent” festival, we are not run by a Board of Directors and we don’t pre-program or pick themes and genres. We let YOUR submissions and selections dictate what we show each year as we accept all genres and lengths! 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, win awards and gain post-festival promotion as our Alumni is our family and your movie never has a shelf life with us.

In 2016, we screened 175 films out of 700 submissions so if you have a great film, your chances are very good!

We are a festival that is very proud of screening films made by female filmmakers. Last year we screen 45 films by female directors!

We are proud to offer, for the second year, the Canadian Film Market which runs the final weekend of the festival and will include Industry Development events, quality networking, pitches and private screenings for industry. Over 25 countries participated in 2016.

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is a major destination for film and television productions. Films like 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!

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!

Awards & Prizes

More TBA!

Picture Perfect Package
Rental Certificates for our film challenge winners from Picture Perfect Package
$3000 certificate
$2000 certificate
$1000 certificate
InkTip: Where producers go for scripts and writers.

3 Film and 3 screenplay winners will receive an InkTip Script Listing so they can promote themselves and their scripts to InkTip’s entire network of producers, managers, and agents. Screenplay winners will also have their logline featured in InkTip Magazine . InkTip Magazine is sent to over 15,000 producers and representatives.

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, 20th Century Fox, and many more.

Producers have made more than 315 films from scripts and writers found through InkTip.
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 Special FX (new category)
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)

Rules & Terms

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.

We now 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 alumni, by considering our event as your primary festival in the area. (Toronto is not included as being in our area) If you have questions about this, contact us.

Hamilton Film Festival - Juried selections, screened for public
Canadian Film Market - Automatically screened for Industry and Market badge holders, not public.

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 and to be screened in either the CANADIAN FILM MARKET or the HAMILTON FILM FESTIVAL, and that 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, with no further contact required as to your inclusion in the festival. (You may see your film listed as being programmed before you have been contacted). Once a film is programmed, you will receive a welcome package with all the information you need to attend and any further materials you need to submit.

If submitting to the Canadian Film Market, you MUST supply us with your contact information that will be added to the Market guide. If you do not supply this information, we will use your FilmFreeway contact information for the guide. It is very important that participating industry be able to contact you. You can fill out your Market Guide Contact form at www.canadianfilmmarket.com

All selected and market film's final exhibition copies MUST be submitted by TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 12th, 2017

We prefer to view online screeners only.
If you only have DVD / Bluray you can mail that to the festival address (at your expense)

Hamilton Film Festival
Staircase Theatre
27 Dundurn St. N
Hamilton On L8R 3C9

Preview discs will not be returned unless accompanied by a S.A.S.E.

Currently, Bluray and file format (Quicktime, Mpeg, Mov)
We currently do not accept PRO-RES or DCP.
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.

The Hamilton Film Festival does not pay screening fees and services the films in the following ways. A theatre screening, promotion, visibility, alumni promotion, access to industry professionals, quality networking, engaging experiences is what you will get in return. We also have prize opportunities, laurels and extra promotion. Please see our blog page and website to really see what we are accomplishing with HFF!

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 catalogue) is impossible for us to manage and therefor, The Hamilton Film Festival and the Canadian Film Market can not be held liable for what happens to your information once released.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing your work at the 12th Annual Hamilton Film Festival and the 2nd 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 and screener is released to all badge holders at the Canadian Film Market only.

Q) If I submit to the Canadian Film Market, do I get a Market Badge?
A) If attending the market, you must purchase a separate badge. Fee is for screening only, not attendance.

25 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    James Rewucki

    Excellent fest, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and appreciated, a solid film market as well.

    November 2017
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    PJ Marcellino

    Definitely not the most well-known festival in the Toronto area, but Hamilton delivers a punch. The programming is carefully curated; the music focus in 2017 offered it a thematic approach that fit our film When They Awake perfectly; the period theatres are cozy and lovely; and it delivers awards for best films in show. The industry programming, however, is key to its success - its proximity to Toronto enables it to source major city players, in addition to the local ones, and to create high-powered panels followed by great networking opportunities in an intimate setting. HFF was definitely a surprise - and it opened new avenues for our little indie film.

    November 2017
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    Response from festival:

    Amazing! It's reviews like this that really make it worth the effort. Truly grateful that your brought your documentary to the Hamilton Film Festival and we look forward to seeing it flourish on the festival scene, and through it's distribution cycle!

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    Francesco Siro

    The best festival I've been to!! i wasn't able to attend but who knows nexy year? :D

    November 2017
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    Catya Plate

    Fantastic festival with a great and diverse lineup of independent films in all genres. Also, very helpful communication by Director Nathan Fleet. I'm very happy that I'm an alumna of the Hamilton Film Festival and have screened in two editions with my films. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend but I hope to be there next time!

    November 2017
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    Response from festival:

    Catya, not only do we love having your work at HFF, we love seeing your progress all over the world with you fabulous animations! You always have a home at HFF!

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    Josephine Massarella

    Great programming and opening with a live performance of Love Hate, the new album by HFF founder Nathan Fleet.

    November 2017
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    Response from festival:

    Josephine, always great to have your work on our screen and to see you at the events! Hope to see more from you!