Couldn't get to TIFF? Here are 8 fantastic Canadian film festivals coming up next

From Vancouver to St. John's, it's coast to coast cinemania between now and the end of October.

From Vancouver to St. John's, it's coast to coast cinemania between now and the end of October

Jordan Canning's Suck It Up opens festivals in both Calgary and St. John's in the coming weeks. (CIFF)

With the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival now just a memory, it's time to turn our attention to the under-acknowledged fact that TIFF is not the only major film festival in Canada. It's true: most cities in Canada also have big film festivals! And while they may not have a thousand Hollywood stars walking their red carpets, they certainly have some fantastic programs that should more than quench the cinematic thirsts of those wishing they'd been at TIFF (especially since a lot of films from TIFF will be playing at them).

Here's a rundown of eight fests happening across the rest of the country from now until the end of October (two of which are actually going on right now — so if you're reading this it's almost too late). And these are just a sampling of the next six weeks. Don't forget that Canada actually has hundreds of film festivals, big and small, happening all around the year.

Atlantic International Film Festival

Running now until September 21st (so buy some tickets now!), Halifax's annual film celebration has everything from much-buzzed about Oscar contenders like Call Me By Your Name and The Florida Project to international hits like France's BPM (Beats Per Minute) and Chile's A Fantastic Woman to homegrown fare like the documentary Mermaids, Slamdance winner Dim the Fluorescents and some free Canadian classics in celebration of Telefilm Canada's 50th anniversary.

Mermaids. (Hot Docs)

Cinefest Sudbury

Also already underway (but until September 24th, so you still have almost a full week), this Northern Ontario festival has a big lineup, with the aforementioned Call Be My Your Name and TIFF's tennis-themed opening night film Borg/McEnroe both gala presentations, and Canadian fare like Meditation Park, Mary Goes Round and Great Great Great all making their way to Sudbury as well. This Sunday, the festival will come to a close with Haifaa Al-Mansour's Mary Shelley, which stars Maisie Williams and Elle Fanning.

Calgary International Film Festival

Cowtown's big movie event kicks off September 20th with When They Awake, a celebration of Indigenous Canadian musicians from Buffy Sainte-Marie to A Tribe Called Red to IskWé (who will also perform at the afterparty). From there, there's everything from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra performing live music during a screening of La La Land to Oscar-buzz titles like Lady Bird, The Florida Project and Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool. Jordan Canning's Calgary-set Suck It Up, which we profiled when it had its world premiere at Slamdance, will close things down on September 30th.

Dim The Fluorescents. (Slamdance)

Ottawa International Animation Festival

A unique entry on our list is this 41-year-old festival in Ottawa, North America's leading celebration of animation. It runs September 20-24 and includes an animation conference and tons of other professional development opportunites. As for the films, there are 92 from 20 different countries, ranging from Jay-Z and Mark Romanek's collaboration The Story of O.J. to queer coming-of-age story Torrey Pines to two films from Japanese animation master Masaaki Yuasa.

Sandra Oh stars in Meditation Park, VIFF's opening film. The comedy is written, producer and directed by Vancouver film maker Mina Shum. (Mongrel Media)

Vancouver International Film Festival

Mina Shum's East Vancouver-set Meditation Park will open the massive west coast fest on September 28th, kicking off 16 days of films (that's more than TIFF's measly 11 days).  What's more, the festival's closing night film is Todd Haynes' much-anticipated Wonderstruck, which skipped TIFF and will have its Canadian premiere at VIFF instead. In between? A huge program of East Asian cinema, the Canadian premiere of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake: China Girl, aforementioned The Florida Project, A Fantastic Woman, Call Me By Your name it.  

Edmonton International Film Festival

Two days before their Calgarian neighbours shut down their fest, Edmonton will begin theirs. From September 28-October 7, the Albertan capital will screen dozens of films, including opening night gala Romantic Road, directed by Edmontonian Oliver McGarvey. That leads into the likes of Call Me By Your Name (which is seriously getting around Canada this fall), Michael Haneke's Happy End and John Cameron Mitchell's How To Talk To Girls at Parties, among many others.

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in "Call Me By Your Name," which is playing at almost every festival on this list. (TIFF)

Festival du Nouveau Cinema

Montreal has dozens of film festivals all around the year, but their fall highlight is the 46th edition of FNC, a highly-curated batch of international cinema running from October 4-15. Only thing? They haven't announced the program yet. That happens September 26th, so check back here.

Still from the documentary, "Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World." (Courtesy of Rezolution pictures)

St John's International Women's Film Festival

Last but not least, we have Newfoundland's annual celebration of female filmmaking — one of the longest running women's film festivals in the world (and one we profiled in 2016). Established in 1989 to support and promote women filmmakers, the SJIWFF has year-round events that culminate in a five-day annual film festival held in October (this year from October 18-22). Jordan Canning's aforementioned Suck It Up starts things off, with Gillian Robespierre's Landline, Ingrid Veninger's Porcupine Lake and Catherine Bainbridge's Rumble among the other highlights. Check out the full lineup here.


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