For more than two decades, The Regent Park Film Festival has been vital to the Toronto film community, known for its commitment to uplifting BIPOC voices, offering free programming, and supporting aspiring artists. From November 23-26, the festival returns to Daniels Spectrum with a standout lineup of films you’ll want to check out.

48 feature and short films will screen at the 21st annual festival this week, all focused on the spectrum of stories and experiences among BIPOC communities.

“Showcasing the stories of Black, Indigenous and racialized filmmakers creates space for important conversations and understanding, but can also strengthen community belonging when individuals see themselves represented on screen,” says Kalpana Srinarayanadas, Executive Director of Regent Park Film Festival. 

As the longest-running free film festival in Toronto, The Regent Park Film Festival is known for its dedication to making the arts accessible. “We strive to remove barriers because we understand the impact and significance it has on individuals and their communities, and how it can open the door to a world of inspiration and possibility for everyone,” says Srinarayanadas.

The festival is truly community-driven, and steadfast in its mission to support emerging filmmakers. In addition to this stellar lineup of films, this year’s programming also includes short film showcases, a stop-motion animation workshop, several free panels, filmmaking industry events, and an emerging directors’ pitch competition—there is plenty for up-and-coming artists to learn and immerse themselves in.

What to Watch at the Regent Park Film Festival:

In Flames – Zarrar Kahn

In Flames is a haunting and powerful story set in Karachi. Mariam and her mother find their lives in jeopardy when a coercive family member returns after the death of the family patriarch. Mariam experiences nightmares that begin to bleed into reality, but the true horror of In Flames is one familiar to many—the terror of being a woman in an oppressive, patriarchal society. 

We Will Be Brave – Chrisann Hessing

This intimate feature is a glimpse into the world of The Good Guise, an artist collective in Toronto formed to spark conversations around healthy masculinity through art. These artists remain dedicated to their mission of finding radical alternatives to the shame and pain faced by many people of colour and LGBTQ+ people. The documentary captures their work and the impact they make on the Toronto arts community along the way.

Seagrass – Meredith Hama-Brown

Seagrass is a strong debut with emotional depth, strong lead performances, and a thoughtful portrayal of Japanese Canadian identity. The story follows Judith, a Japanese Canadian woman who brings her family to a therapy retreat on the Pacific Coast. As her relationship with her husband unravels, their two daughters are also impacted. Deeply-rooted grief, shame, intergenerational trauma and racial identity all come to a head, testing their relationships and family bonds. 

When Morning Comes – Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

After her husband dies, Neesha is left to raise her son alone. Knowing options are limited in Jamaica, she makes the painstakingly difficult decision to send 10-year-old Jamal to live with his grandmother in Toronto, in hopes of giving him a brighter future. This is a stunning and vital film about what a mother is willing to sacrifice to give her son a better life.

How to Fail as a Popstar – Vivek Shraya

How to Fail as a Popstar follows a young Vivek Shraya on the rollercoaster of aspiring pop stardom— growing up as a queer brown boy in Edmonton, working with manipulative music industry professionals, and holding on to glimpses of success along the way. The story is based on Vivek’s lifelong dream of becoming a popstar, and what happens when that dream didn’t quite work out.

See the full schedule for the 2023 Regent Park Film Festival here.