Vox Popular Media Arts Festival (formerly the Bay Street Film Festival) will celebrate its 17th annual festival from September 9-19, 2021. Vox Popular programs all genres of media arts - documentary, features, shorts, experimental, 360VR, and installations made in Northwestern Ontario, Canada and internationally. The annual festival and year-round programming connects professional independent filmmakers with other artists
and to audiences of all ages and interests by showing films, facilitating creative
and professional development and multidisciplinary arts performance in an
accessible, inclusive, friendly environment.

In the past fifteen years, Vox Popular Media Arts Festival has screened over 750 films; more than a dozen media arts installations; 360VR production, Projection mapping immersive screen experiences, hosted 175 visiting filmmakers from Canada and around the world; hosted dozens of Q&A's and 30 highly successful Master Classes; engaged audiences of all ages and interests including Indigenous, Francophone, LGBTQ, disabled and other culturally diverse groups in our community; and paid artist fees to filmmakers for 16 years. Since 2016, we conducted five 360/VR hands-on workshops, and presented 6 x 360 Projection Mapping installations.

We are supported by Heritage Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Ontario Arts Council and many dedicated local sponsors. We provide up to ten travel grants to help subsidize travel expenses of out of town filmmakers, allowing them the opportunity to come to Thunder Bay to present their film, participate in Q&A periods after the screening, lead master classes and most importantly, to interact and celebrate media arts of all genres. We also skype in filmmakers who are unable to attend but would like to engage our audience. Since 2016 we have included 360 VR Oculus Rift screening stations. New in 2017 was our 360 projection mapping screen experience, set up in a separate hall for viewers to enter and experience locally produced 360 VR footage. Our call for submissions now is soliciting VR projects.

Trinity Hall our primary venue, features a large auditorium with a seating capacity of 440, a high quality sound system, a large format screen, and a stage. It’s ideal for screenings, master classes and performances. Our new partner, Trinity United Church has a Live webcasting initiative. Trinity Live blends videoconferencing, Skype TX, Zoom, and video production technologies into a stream that can be distributed either live or on demand to destinations facilitating the possibility of virtual attendance from filmmakers and audience from around the world. The festival utilizes other locations, including the public library auditorium across the street and an outdoor screen at Marina Park.

Thunder Bay is located on Lake Superior between Toronto, Ontario, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, north-east of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and it is serviced by an international airport. Be sure to check out www.thunderbay.ca for more information about the city and region we call home.

***COVID 19 UPDATE***

In September 2020 we hosted our first Online Virtual Festival. Films were embedded into private vimeo showcases accessible exclusively with a password for 10 days. We received a flood of online traction as people watch the films at their own leisure for the duration of the festival. We hosted high quality pre-recorded live stream concert performances of 5 Northern Ontario performers. We also hosted Q&A interviews with filmmakers.

In 2021 we will once again host our festival online. If restrictions lift we will host live screenings of the films, however that is to be determined based on the outcome of the pandemic. We will organize virtual panel discussions / meetings to create networking opportunities between filmmakers during the week of the festival.

All official selections are candidates for the People's Choice Awards. People's Choice Awards are determined by ballot entry filled by festival attendees and awarded to the top ten films as selected by and voted for by viewing audiences. The award carries no cash value, however a certificate will be presented to the director(s) of winning films at the close of the festival with the potential to tour Northwestern Ontario in the upcoming years.

Criteria for eligibility are:

- Works must be made within the past three years

- Films in languages other than English with English subtitles will be accepted for consideration.

- Maximum length 90 minutes (less preferred).

- Film should be downloadable. (Our Judging process involves working Offline)

- Submissions must be completed works with a release date of June 2018 or later.

- We prefer online screeners when possible.

- The final program of the festival will be posted August 1, 2020 (date approximate) on the festival website.

- The "People’s Choice Awards" will be announced September 30, 2020 (date approximate) following the close of the festival.

Although this is a non-competitive film festival, "People’s Choice Awards" are given to the 10 films judged to be the best by festival audiences.

If your film is selected for the festival, Vox Popular Media Arts Festival requests your permission to keep a copy in our library for free loan for educational purposes to individuals or organizations in our region. We do not duplicate or sell these materials; they are strictly loaned for educational purposes only. Otherwise, the video and accompanying materials will be kept in the Vox Popular Media Arts Festival library.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • steve haining

    Great group of people running this festival! in a year of self isolation and quarantines they definitely communicated well and helped make everything possible!

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Steve! We can't wait to have you join us in person next time!

  • Justice 4reel

    great event so proud of this festival and the hard work they have done.

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much!

  • Matthew Campanile

    A great festival to be a part of. It's great to be shown alongside the wide variety of films and media they select. Communication with the festival was topnotch.

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Matthew! We can't wait to have you join us in person next time! We could not be happier to have been able to share your film!

  • Wesley Shrum

    This is a fantastic festival--only sad that it was online this one year, as are so many other festivals. Even when it was called Bay Street festival it was organized and staffed by the best of folks! I would venture to say it is my single favorite film festival to attend! The location, the people, and the experience are just outstanding!

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Wesley! We can't wait to have you back here in person next time!

  • Scott Hobbs

    Super cute little festival that's been a staple of the filmmaking scene in Northern Ontario for years. This was my first entry into the festival, though about my tenth time attending. I cannot say enough good about Vox Popular

    October 2019