Submission Guidelines & Deadlines

Festival Overview

Now in its 16th year, the Reelworld Film Festival is a platform for Canadian and international films that explore current issues, ideas and stories with social impact. Founded by Tonya Williams, Reelworld showcases narrative features, documentaries, shorts, episodic content and VR/360 films. From criminal justice and poverty; human rights and education; to global health, climate change, immigration and social innovation— Reelworld provides a platform for emerging and established filmmakers to tell important stories, reach the right audiences, spark meaningful dialogue and inspire positive action and change.

This year’s Festival features a convergence of film, art, music, technology and conversation--bringing together today’s most original storytellers, thought leaders, nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and innovators. Additional programming includes an industry forum, networking receptions, pitch sessions, panels, talks, student programs, a social venture fair, social impact games, live music performances, art exhibits and installations, scheduled conversations, live podcasts, book fairs, technology demonstrations, a hackathon and parties.

Festival Submission Dates

Submission Opening Date: March 1, 2016

Early-bird deadline: April 1, 2016

Regular deadline: May 27, 2016

Late deadline: June 15, 2016

Festival Dates: October 12 to 16, 2016. Toronto, ON.


  • Submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2015;
  • All submissions and exhibitions must be in English, subtitled in English or English versioned;
  • Must not be available online, via any home device (blu-ray, DVD, etc.) or released theatrically in Canada at the time of the festival exhibition;
  • Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry into the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry; and
  • Rough cuts and works-in-progress will not be considered.

Programming consideration

We accept Canadian and international narrative films, documentaries, episodic content and VR/360 films that explore current issues, ideas, and stories with social impact (i.e. social change, criminal justice, poverty, equality, empowerment, human rights, education, global health, climate change, immigration, and social innovation, etc.) All programs are carefully curated and submissions will be fully considered by Reelworld’s programming team.

For the purposes of eligibility and awards consideration, Reelworld uses the following definitions:

Film Length

  • Feature-Length: 60 minutes or longer
  • Short: under 30 minutes
  • Episodic: up to 45 minutes (must be part of a 4+ part series)

Country of Production and Submission Categories

  • Canadian Submissions: All films produced in Canada or directed by Canadian filmmakers
  • International Submissions: All films produced outside of Canada and directed by non-Canadians

Selection & Notification Process

Applicants will be notified of programming decisions via email by August 30th, 2016. Final programming, categorization and slotting of films will be determined by the Reelworld programming team. Their decision is final. Successful applicants will receive this information in their official invitation.

Accepted exhibition formats

  • Blu-ray is the format accepted for exhibition.


Reelworld features two juried competition programs and several non-competitive programs.

  • All selected short and feature-length films will be considered by the jury.
  • The Impact Award is awarded to the director of the film selected as most impactful and capable of inspiring social change.
  • All feature films selected are eligible for both the Impact Award and the Audience Award.

Travel & Accommodation

For officially selected films, Reelworld aims to provide as much support as possible to filmmakers attending the festival:

  • For feature-length films, Reelworld strives to bring at least one filmmaker to Toronto for each invited film, by providing accommodation and a stipend for travel expenses, or an airport transfer, if required.
  • For all selected films, Reelworld will provide Festival accreditation for every credited director as well as one producer.

Submission Procedure

Reelworld accepts submissions through Film Freeway. All screeners must be submitted via Film Freeway’s online upload platform (links to Vimeo and YouTube are available). No DVD submissions will be accepted. Please note: The password to your film link must not change during our programming process.