"Fox Incendo, the Canadian branch of 20th Century Fox, came knocking after a senior vice-president saw an episode at the Hamilton Film Festival." - Sault Star

"This was especially true for the Hamilton Film Festival in November 2017. Little did Kim know that Susan Curran, vice-president of corporate development at Vortex Pictures, would be at the screening" - The Toronto Observer

The 13th Annual Hamilton Film Festival continues to be one of Canada’s most important up-and-coming film festivals for Canadian and International films. We will continue offering opportunities to network, engage, pitch and participate. Distributors actively look to the Hamilton Film Festival (via the Canadian Film Market) for titles.

HFF 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), Alex Elena (Drummer for Bruce Dickinson) 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), Craig Davidson (Author / Rust and Bone) 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) Dan Lyon (Telefilm), Matthew Willson (Producer) 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!

More prizes will be announced!

This year’s theme will be DARKNESS. Celebrating our 13th year, this theme will be at the forefront in our decision making. Having said that, we will absolutely accept your comedy, light-hearted, inspiring films as we will be programming several spots that are not dedicated to the DARKNESS theme.

DARKNESS can be many things. Dark comedy, drama, lore, animation style, genre, horror, thriller, web pilot, subject matter for a documentary.

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 will also be dedicating a screening to WEBISODE PILOTS. With the increase in webisodes, and the eyes looking for new content, we will accept your pilot (or episode of your choosing) to highlight! (Did you see the quote at the top? That was a webisode they saw)

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!

The Hamilton Film Festival is 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!

We are proud to offer, for the third year, the Canadian Film Market which runs the final weekend of the festival and will include Industry Development events, quality networking, pitches and more! Dozens of 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 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 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)

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.

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.

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. DARKNESS is the main theme this year, but your film does not have to fall under this category as we have many opportunities to screen.

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 other festivals in the area do not offer. By considering our event as your primary festival in the area, you are making a choice that will benefit your film. 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!

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. Guide access will come later in the year 2018 (Spring / Summer)

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, 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 - check your inbox). 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.

We prefer to view online screeners only.

If you must mail a screener, please send only DVD or BLURAY to:
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
DCP may be an option once we know what films go to 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.

The Hamilton Film Festival is a service-based arts event and we do so in the following ways. A theatrical screening, promotion & visibility, post-fest alumni promotion, access to industry professionals, quality networking, engaging experiences, special access to screenings and events. 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 catalogue, 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.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing your work at the 13th 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 get a Market Badge?
Yes, in the past we have charged extra for this but we are now offering it. We have increased the price slightly (by only $10 per film) so that you automatically receive a badge, should you wish to attend and get the Market Guide.

Overall Rating
  • Colin Baxter

    This film festival has a very welcoming atmosphere for those submitting any type of film of any length. Audiences are very much participants and they appreciate the efforts filmmakers make to create and submit films to the festival. The way categories are arranged allow for a lot of opportunity to screen films and chances to network with others.

    November 2018

    Amazing festival! It is Canada’s TriBeCa!

    November 2018
  • Catherine Legge

    This is a wonderful festival! Very welcoming and organized by nice people who are passionate about film.

    November 2018
  • Nancy Beiman

    What if they gave a film festival screening and nobody came? My film aired on a Wednesday night at the same time that another screening was held in another town...that one was sold out. The animation screening attracted two programmers, two filmmakers, one voice talent and...NO audience whatever. While I support this festival, I do not recommend it for animated filmmakers unless they change their schedule to prevent conflicting screenings.

    November 2017
    Hff cfm logo
    Response from festival:

    Nancy, we feel bad about that and believe me, it's on us. While we were delighted that we had a sold out screenings at another venue, we had hoped for many more at the Animated program. Animated films have been incredible to screen but we just didn't bring that audience this year and we did try. When we set the schedule, there is no way for us to know if something will sell out as every film we screen is brand new on the scene so it's hard to predict audience. As for networking, your pass would have covered the entire festival so I hope you made it out to the Market or some of the other events as there we many opportunities this year for networking. We're actually going to break up the animated films next year and place them within some of our stronger categories (drama, comedy, thriller...) We also hope you enjoyed the quality of the submissions. Truly Hope your festival run is a good one.

  • Jani Lauzon

    Great festival. Good discussion in the panels. Full house. Responsive and supportive audience.

    November 2017
    Hff cfm logo
    Response from festival:

    So glad you had this positive experience!