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Everything You Need to Know About the International Film Festival of Ottawa

March 7, 2024

Do you fancy yourself a film fanatic? Many people do – there’s nothing that quite compares to sitting in a crowded theatre with friends or family as well as a big bucket of popcorn and being transported on a thrilling ride full of adventure, conflict and emotions. That’s the magic of cinema – and it’s exactly what organizations like the Canadian Film Institute have been devoted to preserving and promoting for, in their case, 89 years. (Fun fact: The CFI is the oldest film institution in Canada and the second oldest film institute in the world!)

Without a shadow of a doubt, there is no time during the year when the CFI’s devotion to preserving and promoting the medium of film is more evident than during the International Film Festival of Ottawa. Entering its fourth year after replacing the Ottawa International Film Festival in 2020, IFFO has quickly become one of Ottawa’s most anticipated cultural events, with industry figureheads, symposiums, seminars and, of course, films making their way from across the globe to the nation’s capital for a celebration of all things related to film.

Read on to learn all the reasons why you can’t afford to miss this incredible event that takes place right here in Ottawa’s Original Downtown!

A photo of the Canadian Film Institute in its infancy, c. 1970s. Many celebrated names passed through here at the time, including David Cronenberg! (Image: James Forrester)

Seeing Through the Eyes of Other Cultures

If this is your first time attending IFFO, be prepared for something new and interesting because this is not your typical Hollywood blockbuster movie-watching experience! The films shown at IFFO represent a wide variety of cultures telling incredible stories in remarkable ways.

This year, IFFO will be kicking off with a screening of Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s latest film “Seven Veils” (2023) about an inexperienced opera director’s personal struggles while putting together a production of Strauss’s Salome. The days that follow consist of films from Iceland, France, Jordan, Germany, Burkina Faso and more, all of which offer a glimpse into the fascinating (and sometimes overlooked) lived experiences of different groups of people from across the globe. Click here to see the full programming schedule!

Learning from Veterans of the Industry

Of course, the festival isn’t just about showcasing movies – IFFO takes an active interest in helping people learn more about the medium of film. This is why they have so many informative events and panels that are held at various locations throughout Ottawa’s Original Downtown!

One such event is SAVE AS, the festival’s one-day annual conference whose purpose is to foster discussion surrounding “issues of preservation, restoration, distribution, and exhibition of the always-endangered world cinema heritage” and showcasing contemporary advancements in expanding the spectrum of film archival processes. This year, in partnership with the Embassy of Italy, IFFO will be hosting director Cecelia Cenciarelli who is appearing on behalf of the Cineteca di Bologna, “a world leader in the fields of preservation and restoration of some of the most important works in cinema history.”

Also in attendance will be Winnipeg-based film artist Guy Maddin to discuss the restoration of his film “Archangel” (1990) as well as Pat Ferns, who served as an executive producer on the film “The Wars” (1983) that was recently “restored collaboratively by several Canadian institutions.” Be sure to catch the latter film’s screening at the Ottawa Art Gallery on March 21st at 7:00 p.m.!

Guy Maddin (right) and Pat Ferns will be guest speakers at two of the Restoration Case Study showcased at this year’s iteration of SAVE AS. (Image: Victoria Times Colonist / Guy Maddin)

Networking with Veterans of the Industry

For festival attendees with aspirations of becoming filmmakers, this event at IFFO must be at the top of your itinerary!

Screen Summit is IFFO’s gift to upcoming filmmakers, YouTubers and streamers everywhere. This event sees a wealth of screen-based industry professionals make appearances at the Arts Court Theatre for panels and presentations about the intricacies and current developments within the burgeoning production sector in Ottawa. Learn how to fund your first project, expand your streaming audience or what it’s like to work on a film crew!

After that, take advantage of the one-on-one networking opportunities that are offered as part of the event. You can reserve a 12-minute slot to discuss your career aspirations with representatives of Ontario Creates, Bell Media, Gusto TV, Blue Any Media and more! By purchasing a Screen Summit pass, you are also entitled to a catered networking lunch and cocktail party. Order your pass today and start laying the foundation for your career in the production sector!

Lastly, make sure that you carve out some time to swing by “The Female Gaze,” an IFFO program dedicated to celebrating the works and achievements of women both in front of and behind the camera. In past years, films that have been screened as part of this event include “Anna Emma Haudal’s “The Venus Effect” (2021), Susanne Heinrich’s “Aren’t You Happy” (2019) and Ruth Caudeli’s “Leading Ladies” (2021). This is your chance to discover the works of some of film’s most underrepresented filmmakers and witness the difference in films made by and for women! Can’t make it? Don’t worry; The Female Gaze is a year-round initiative, so mark your calendar for the next screening!

Screen Summit features many panels and presentation where professionals in Canadian filmmaking discuss the nuances of the industry. (Image: IFFO)

📍 2 Daly Avenue (Arts Court), 10 Daly Avenue (Ottawa Art Gallery), 325 Rideau Street (ByTowne Cinema)

📅 March 13-24, 2024

📞 (613) 232-8769


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