The Reelworld Film Festival returns this October

Actress Tonya Lee Williams

Canada’s leading racially diverse film showcase, the Reelworld Film Festival, stands firm in its continued commitment to exclusively showcasing and investing in Canadian filmmakers who are Indigenous, Black, Asian, South Asian, and People of Colour.

Every year, talented filmmakers from diverse communities across Canada claim their own stories and bring their unique perspectives to our screens and hearts during the festival.

Back  for  its  21st  year,  the  Reelworld  Film  Festival, presented by the Reelworld Screen Institute, features seven days of incredible cinema showcasing 41 Canadian directors and hundreds of racially diverse Canadian producers, writers, actors and crew members involved in the creation of these films.

Alongside the screenings, which run from October 20 to 27, Reelworld will host 13 panel discussions focusing on subject matter related to the film topics and their impact and perspectives on relevant social issues; connect filmmakers and audiences with veteran industry professionals who share their experience and knowledge through our live Industry Panels; and host purposeful mixers designed to connect emerging artists with gatekeepers.

The festival will take place with a hybrid format this year with both in-person screenings at the Paradise Theatre in Bloorcourt Village (1006c Bloor St West) and digital screenings via Reelworld’s Digital Cinema. This year’s festival was made possible with the incredible support of Reelworld’s partners including TD Bank Group, Telefilm, Ontario Arts Council, and Canadian Media Fund.

This year’s schedule boasts a line-up full of impactful stories that remind us of the importance of human connection and how the past informs our present. These films, created by Canadian filmmakers who are not always well represented, take us on a journey and allow our perspectives to shift towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

“We had an outstanding selection of submissions to choose from this year with over 400 Canadian films by Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian and People of Colour,” says Tonya Williams, Founder and Executive Director. “The films we selected represent many of the social challenges of our times and how Canadians are impacted by them—films about identity, our history, gender, and our continued struggles to exist in a place that continues to block us at every turn. These filmmakers don’t hold back as they deal with some sensitive issues and force us to see the world from their perspective.

The following is a sample of this year’s stellar lineup of feature films:

In the rumbling belly of motherland by Brishkay Ahmed

With suicide bombers around the corners and sporadic Taliban attacks, Afghan reporters’ lives are in the hands of destiny. Even worse for Afghan female journalists, who do double-duty battling both the extreme dangers and the conservative, patriarchal society that continues to ignore the women’s abilities in the name of tradition.

Pink Lake by Emily Gan and Daniel Schachter

Heartbroken Nadia unintentionally disrupts the peaceful relationship of a couple when she unexpectedly asks Sam, her dearest friend, to be her sperm donor. Pink Lake scrutinizes an ongoing, bittersweet conversation among couples concerning having vs. not having children, and Emily and Daniel pour their real-life experience into it.

Mr. Emancipation: the Walter Perry story by Preston Chase

It tells the story of Walter Perry – the man behind the largest Emancipation Day celebration in the world in Windsor, Canada – in the hope of raising public awareness about Black history and Canada’s little-known history of slavery and discrimination and preserving it for the next generations. For history to be learned, it must be taught.

Sin la Habana by Kaveh Nabatian

Sin La Habana is a complex love story chronicling a Cuban ballet dancer’s emigration to Canada. His quest for the life we all aspire to have, one of security and self-actualization, is far from simple.

HOME/IDENTITY, an exploration of the ways in which experiences and circumstances shape personal identity and character.

NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE,  which  immerses  the  audience  in  the  convergence  of  technology  and humanity.


HERE AND NOW, a hybrid collection of films that span different genres and themes that mirror current responses to social issues.

Reelworld prioritizes its programming to support and amplify underrepresented Canadian voices. The Festival’s Industry Panels, Workshops and Networking events are consciously designed to enhance opportunities for racialized Canadian talent in the entertainment industry. This year, the festival will be featuring live  panel discussion such as Directing: From Indie Films to Episodic Television presented by DGC National; an informational panel on the Level UP Program, an on-the-ground experience developed in partnership with Reelworld and Rogers Sports & Media for Canadian writers and directors; and Scripted Short Form Series: How to Develop Your Package for Funding, presented by Independent Production Fund. With the goal of creating a bigger impact for artists and providing   audiences with context and connection to the festival films, Reelworld is also presenting a series of virtual panel discussions exploring the themes of our films beyond the lens of filmmaking. These range from a deeper look at Indigenous issues and climate action, to race theory, to Canadian Black history and education, to queerness, and to religion.

The festival wraps up with the annual Film Festival Awards Show at 3 pm ET on Wednesday October 27,

  1. The Reelworld Film Festival is proud to award over $20,000 in cash and over $20,000 in prizes to the recipients of our festival awards this year. This year’s award sponsors include TD Bank Group, Warner Media, DGC National,  Shaftesbury,  Bell  Fund,  CBC,  CMPA,  CMF,  IPF,  WIFT-Toronto,  Entertainment Partners Canada, Chargefield and AstroLab Studios who generously contribute to following awards; Feature category: Outstanding Feature Film, Standout Producer, Standout Director, Standout Actress, Standout Actor, Standout Writer, Standout Cinematographer, Short category: Outstanding Short Film, Standout Producer, Standout Director, Standout Actress, Standout Actor, Standout Writer, Standout Cinematographer. Audience members are encouraged to participate and rate  the films they watch and contribute to the selection of the Reelworld Audience Choice Award.  In addition to the film awards we recognize Industry leaders at all levels through the  Trailblazer Award,  Visionary Award, and  Award of Excellence and each recipient is given a Pierre Laurent luxury watch in recognition of their achievement. This year’s winners are: Trailblazer Award: Carson Ting, Shivani Saini, Gyimah Gariba, Elle-Maija Tailfeahers, Amber-Sekowan Daniels, and Alicia K. Harris; Visionary Award: Alfons Adetuyi and Amos Adetuyi, and the Award of Excellence recipient Mina Shum. For more details on the award categories and the recipients, click here.

About Reelworld

Founded in 2000 by Tonya Williams, Reelworld advances opportunities and provides training for Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian and People of Colour in the Canadian Screen industry by reducing barriers and fostering authentic stories.

Reelworld Screen Institute, an established non-profit, advocates for access and inclusion of Canadian racially diverse talent in the screen industries with a mission to increase the representation of Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, and People of Colour at all levels of experience. Reelworld Screen