A six-day celebration of our country’s best in film kicks off tonight! The Canadian Film Fest has an extended lineup this year, offering more opportunities to see new work from Canadian filmmakers. 

From March 18-23 at Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto, the festival will screen 11 features and 45 shorts—with 59% created by women or non-binary filmmakers.

“From heartfelt narratives to bold cinematic visions, this year’s program champions fresh new voices that will captivate and inspire,” says Festival Director Ashleigh Rains. “We are so proud to continue uniting film lovers with an outstanding lineup, celebrating Canadian stories that resonate with people across the nation.”

CFF is known for showcasing diverse selections of innovative cinematic works. The festival is one we can always count on to amplify the Canadian talent we love, and put some new names on our radar.

Here are six bold feature films from women and non-binary directors that you can catch at the festival this year. We hope you discover a new homegrown favourite this week!

Hailey Rose

From award-winning Calgary filmmaker Sandi Somers, this tragic yet heart-warming family story is about love in all its expressions. Hailey is at a personal crossroads when her sister calls with news compelling her to return home to the scenic coast of Nova Scotia. When she arrives, she discovers a stunning surprise, and must face her past and accept her loved ones, old and new. See it at CFF on March 20.

Place of Bones

Audrey Cummings directs this gripping drama set in 1876. Alone on a remote ranch, a mother and daughter fight to survive against a gang of ruthless outlaws. See it at CFF on March 20. 

Wild Goat Surf

In a run-down city in BC’s Okanagan Valley, a young girl named Goat dreams of becoming a surfer, just like her deceased father. Set in 2003, the 13-year-old skater girl navigates the long summer days while dreaming of riding the ocean waves that are 700km away. See it at CFF on March 21.

Valley of Exile

Set in the early years of the Syrian War, Anna Fahr’s Valley of Exile is the story of sisters Rima and Nour, who flee war-torn Damascus and find unexpected refuge in a makeshift camp in Lebanon. As they connect with other women who have lost family to the war, they set out on different paths to survive and reunite with their loved ones. See it at CFF on March 21. 

With Love and a Major Organ

In a world where hearts are made of inanimate objects, a vibrant young woman rips out her heart for the man she loves…who promptly disappears with it. Based on Julia Lederer’s popular Toronto play, this film is the debut feature from Vancouver director Kim Albright, and promises flairs of magical realism and a story that will stretch your imagination. See it at CFF on March 22.

Waapake (Tomorrow)

This documentary is a powerful invitation for Indigenous families and communities to break generations of silence, and unite in collective freedom and power. WaaPaKe (Tomorrow) explores how children of residential school survivors — including three generations of director Dr. Jules Arita Koostachin’s own family — are moving beyond the burden of intergenerational trauma and into healing. See it at CFF on March 23. 

There are also plenty of exciting short films screening at CFF, including the comedy-sci-fi Capsule from Workin’ Moms’ Dani Kind, Eva Thomas’s Redlights, where an evening outing takes a dangerous turn for two Indigenous women, Katie Uhlmann’s When you know you…know?, a fun and dark exploration of Instagram vs. reality, Katia Café-Fébrissy’s Still Waters about a young queer couple coping with the loss of their child, and many more.

The full lineup of films is available on the Canadian Film Fest website.