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Coming Soon: September Film Festivals

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Coming Soon: September Film Festivals
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(August 24, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Fall arrives in a month. September 23 to be exact. Time now to look ahead to our fall film festivals, but first, some of the pre-fall festivals opening in early September. Do I have to mention TIFF? Probably not. Our Toronto-based film correspondent Thom Ernst will again be covering Canada’s largest film festival, which runs September 7 to 17.

We wish we could report on the Canadian film selected for the opening Gala, as in many years past, but it is an nternational festival and this year the honour goes to legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s newest film, The Boy and the Heron. It is the first time a Japanese film has opened the festival and also represents the first time that an animated feature has been selected as the opener, which speaks to the respect and distinction that Miyazaki has earned during his prolific career.

The Boy and the Heron, movie, still, image,

One day earlier, the 18th Annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival launches on September 6 – 22nd in Toronto and online. Opening night, at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, three films will screen including Eden River, Ici s’achève le monde connu, Powerlands, and the short Territory in a program that runs from 7PM to 10PM. The festival describes its schedule as “urgent narratives on climate change plus a multitude of diverse stories from the Caribbean and African diaspora.”

A new festival has been added to our September Film Festivals page today. The Montreal International Film Festival is just a two day affair and runs September 9 and 10. As of today they haven’t posted a schedule of what’s playing when.

The Queen of My Dreams, movie, poster, In Halifax, the Atlantic International Film Festival (AIFF) kicks off on the 14th with The Queen of My Dreams, the debut feature from Fawzia Mirza. Described as part romance, part musical, part a story of loss, it tells a mother-daughter story of two generations of women, their overlapping aspirations and the hurdles they must overcome to reach them. It runs 97 minutes and is a Canada-Pakistan coproduction. TIFF-goers get to see it first as it screens in Toronto on September 8.

Cinéfest Sudbury has announced its 2023 lineup. The opening night Gala film is Swan Song, an immersive look inside The National Ballet of Canada, as it mounts a legacy-defining new production of Swan Lake, directed by ballet icon Karen Kain on the eve of her retirement. With full access to the creative process, the film delves into the lives of the dancers as they push themselves to their limits to stage one of the most significant nights in their careers and company history.

Swan Song at TIFF, movie, image,

Swan Song was executive produced by Canadian actress Neve Campbell, most famously known for her work in 1997’s The Craft, the Scream franchise, and 1998’s Wild Things. “Making Swan Song has been an epic, three-year journey and I’m thrilled to finally be sharing the film with audiences, at TIFF and beyond,” said the film’s director Chelsea McMullan, who co-wrote the film with producer Sean O’Neill. Cinéfest runs Sept 16 to 24.

OIAF, Ottawa International Animation Festival, 2023, poster, The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is simply not to be missed if you’re a fan of animation. There are feature length films, shorts, series, and lots of content from the up-and-coming animators of the future. From Sheridan College, Queen’s University, Concordia, OCAD, Université du Québec à Montréal, and Emily Carr, there are 25 shorts from Canadian students. OAIF runs from September 20 to 24.

Three of the largest western Canada festivals happen in September. The Edmonton International opens with a film titled A Shit Day. Its synopsis: Drowning under the abuses of her narcissist ex husband and condescending Lotto-Gold superior, a young single mother on the brink of a mental breakdown is sent to the middle of nowhere to interview a strange hermit. Thrilling and darkly funny, her journey will take her down a path not easily foretold. The festival runs September 21 to October 1.

The Calgary International festival also runs from September 21 to October 1, but the first 4 days are given over to industry meetings. The films begin on Monday, September 25th with 9 Alberta-made short films.

The 42nd VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival) starts September 28 and runs until October 8. They won’t release their full program until September 6.

Smaller festivals absolutely worth attending include the 32nd annual Cabbagetown Short Film & Video fest in Toronto. Fourteen films have been selected from Canada, USA, Afghanistan, Syria, Belgium, France, Spain and more! The Gala Live screening takes place at the Winchester Street Theatre on Wednesday September 6th. After that, the films will stream across Canada from September 7-10. And, if you’re on Canada’s east coast toward the end of the month and like documentary films, The Lunenburg Doc Fest runs September 21 to 27 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

We’ll look at October and November film festivals in mid-September.

Click here for links to all of our September 2023 film festivals.

Northernstars logo imageRalph Lucas is a former broadcast executive and award-winning director in high-end corporate video production. The founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca, online since 1998, he began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.