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Ottawa Canadian Film Festival

Ottawa Canadian Film Festival | OCanFilmFest | OCan



The Call for Submissions for our 8th annual festival opens on FilmFreeway in January 2024.

OCan on FilmFreeway

Our Mission

OCan is a Film Festival in Ottawa that celebrates Canadian film.

Through annual festival screenings at the Bytowne Cinema in November and activities throughout the year, our volunteer‑run not‑for‑profit organization works to promote Canadian film as distinctive and vital to our country’s culture and the local economy.

OCan is listed among qualifying festivals for the Canadian Screen Awards by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

'Life After…' voted Audience Favourite at the 2023 Ottawa Canadian Film Festival


The audience at 2023 OCan FilmFest has voted 'Life After…' the Audience Favourite. Congratulations to director Stephanie Lalonde and the creative team!

“Stephanie directed and starred in an intensely personal film about a woman leading a support group for those dealing with a devastating loss. The film made an impression with our jury and it is clear from the reaction at screening, Q&A, and discussions following the screening, that it resonated with the audience as well. Congratulations, Stephanie." — Jith Paul, OCan Film Fest Co-founder

It was great to return to Bytowne Cinema for a second year. Thank you to the City of Ottawa and Bourk’s Complete Car Care for your financial support and thanks to all of the local businesses and other non-profit film festivals for expanding our reach by sharing details about our screening. Thanks to local directors, Stephanie Lalonde, Jane Gurr and Maissa Houri, directors Karolyne Natasha, Samuel Dayomi and actor Dylan Harman who travelled to Ottawa to introduce their films, provide context, and answer questions from the audience and at the festival and at post-festival events. Thanks to other members of the creative teams behind the films for attending and for their support. Special thanks to members of our board and volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make this year’s festival a success, and to everyone who attended.

Circle the early November 2024 in your calendars. We’ll be back. Our call for submissions for our 2024 festival opens on FilmFreeway in January.

About OCan:

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is a cultural, not-for-profit organization that celebrates Canadian film. Our mission is grounded in the belief that Canadian film and filmmakers are distinctive and vital to our country’s culture and the development of the local economy. This artist-run organization is composed of a volunteer board of directors and jury members. We believe in programming and content that provides Ottawa audiences with entertaining and high-quality independent films, information, activities and events. Our festival, events, online presence and resources aim to encourage collaboration, artistic innovation and creativity while providing access for a broad audience segment.


Life AFter...

Life After... Audience Favourite Award winner, OCan Film Festival 2023

Bytowne Cinema marquee

Bytowne Cinema Marquee during OCan23

2023 Recap

OCan gratefully acknowledges financial support from the City of Ottawa, and continuing support from our sponsors and partners.


Festival Reviews

"Boasting an ambitious program and an exceptional selection of Canadian films and filmmakers, the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is the ultimate destination for film lovers. Typically hosted in November, it’s the perfect event to add to your itinerary if you’re looking for what to do in Ottawa in November. With an eye to the future, this festival has established itself as an innovative event that is uniting Canadian communities to recognize and promote Canadian cinema in a thrilling atmosphere."

— Jami Savage, Adventure Awaits Travel Blog
"I really enjoyed my experience participating as a filmmaker in this festival. The communication is excellent because you are working directly with the key organizers. They helped set up media opportunities for the filmmakers and they featured each filmmaker on their social media channels. They hosted informal networking nights after every screening. And the venue they use for the screenings is wonderful -- it's the best I've ever heard my film sound at a festival. I highly recommend attending as a viewer and submitting your film as a filmmaker to this festival!"

— Nicole Bedford, Director, the smallest steps
"The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival was a remarkable event that showcased a diverse range of films from filmmakers all across the country. These festivals are integral to our community as they foster a supportive environment where individuals with a shared passion for filmmaking can come together and build lasting connections. Its films encourage filmmakers to take risks and explore unconventional storytelling techniques. Seeing filmmakers exercise their freedom to experiment with different visual styles, narrative structures, and genres was refreshing and left me feeling inspired."

— Emma Poole, Ottawa Festivals d'Ottawa

About OCanFilmFest

OCan is a Film Festival in Ottawa that celebrates Canadian film. Through annual festival screenings at the Bytowne Cinema in November and activities throughout the year, we work to promote Canadian film as distinctive and vital to our country’s culture and the local economy.

OCanFilmFest is a not-for-profit organization that is artist and volunteer-run, and is strongly committed to fostering diversity in its approach to programming. We strive to achieve this by encouraging film submissions from under-represented independent artists including those who identify as women, non-binary, Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPoC), persons from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities. We recruit diverse members and voices to our Board of Directors and film selection juries.

OCan is listed among qualifying festivals for the Canadian Screen Awards by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

Sponsorships, support from our patrons, grants, film submission fees, and proceeds from ticket sales are used to fund exhibition / artist fees that are paid out to filmmakers for the use of their work in our annual festival screenings.

We believe in programming and content that provides Ottawa audiences with entertaining and high-quality independent films, information, activities and events. Our festival, events, online presence and resources aim to encourage collaboration, artistic innovation and creativity while providing access for a broad audience segment. The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is committed to cooperation and collaboration with other arts organizations as well as the business community. Our programs are interactive, entertaining, educational and great value for the money.

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is an evolution of the Treepot Film Festival, independent filmmaker Jith Paul’s series of public screenings that showcased over 150 Canadian independent films at movie theatres, universities, colleges and parks in downtown Ottawa between 2011 and 2014. Although successful and popular with local audiences, Paul decided it was time to take the Treepot screenings to the next level in order to further promote independent filmmakers and to reach out and appeal to larger and broader based audiences in a more formalized structure.  The result is the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival, founded in 2015, with its first annual screenings in 2017. Since then the festival has presented Canadian films of various genres and durations from filmmakers across the country at both in-person and online screenings.

OCan is an artist and volunteer-run, not-for-profit film festival. Support from patrons is welcome and can be provided at PayPal.me/ocanfilmfest.


Check our FAQ page for frequently asked questions about the festival, screenings, artist / screening fees, and film submission process.


What type of films can I see at the OCan Film festival?

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival features short, medium-length and feature-length Canadian independently-produced films from a variety of genres from Comedy, Drama, Horror, Thriller, Documentary and more. We have have been fortunate to feature films from almost every province and territory across Canada. Here are the films that have been featured at the festival since the inception of the festival in 2017.

When does the festival take place?

Screenings for the OCan Film Festival usually take place during the first weekend in November every year.

Where are festival films screened?

Our festival screenings moved to the historic Bytowne Cinema (325 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 5Y4) in 2022. We hosted our previous screenings at La Nouvelle Scène and the Arts Court Theatre. We briefly moved to online screenings in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What makes OCan different from other film festivals in Ottawa?

Ottawa is fortunate to host a variety of film festivals thoughout the calendar year at both indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city. Here are some of the differentiating features of the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival:

How can I submit a film to screen at OCanFilmFest?

Filmmakers from across Canada are invited to submit films to OCanFilmFest via FilmFreeway. The Call for Submissions lists all criteria and is usually opened in January each year, with various discount periods posted with the call. The jury watches and evaluates films over the summer and official selections usually announced in October.

How are the films for the annual festival screenings chosen?

The selection of films for the annual festival is a competitive process. In phase one, a jury of filmmakers and film fans evaluate and rank the submissions received in response to our Call for Submissions on FilmFreeway to arrive at the short list of selections. In phase two, the filmmakers from this short list of films are then given the opportunity to confirm availability, and submit exhibition copies of their films and related promotional materials to fill available screening slots in the schedule. The slots are filled on a first come, first served basis to arrive at the list of Official Jury Selections for the annual festival.

Why do you charge a submission fee? There are plenty of free festivals around.

There are couple of reasons that motivate the inclusion of the submission fee. From our experience with earlier seasons, free submissions generate a large number of spam submissions and/or submissions that do not fit the criteria mentioned in the call. We are a volunteer-run organization and the investment in terms of time to weed out and disqualify these entries was significant. It is hoped that requiring a submission fee would encourage filmmakers to make sure the films they submit match the required criteria. We have certainly seen that this is the case over the past few years. The second reason for requiring the submission fee is to use it as one of several sources we use to fund the artist/exhibition fee we pay to all filmmakers whose films are selected to screen at the festival. There are discounts for early submissions. Check the OCanFilmFest listing on FilmFreeway for details.

Do you pay artist fees for films that you screen?

Yes. We pay artist/exhibition fees for films selected to screen at our annual festival in November. It is something we are passionate about and is something we are proud to say we have done since our first annual festival screening in 2017. It is very much in line with our mission to promote and support Canadian film and filmmakers.

Visit our FAQ page for more questions and answers about OCan.

Annual Festivals

We host annual in-person festival screenings in Ottawa every November. Out of an abundance of caution we moved the screenings to Vimeo's Video-On Demand platform in 2020 and 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We returned to in-person screenings at the Bytowne Cinema in November 2022!

OCanFilmFest 2017 festival poster
OCanFilmFest 2018 festival poster
OCanFilmFest 2019 festival poster
OCanFilmFest 2020 festival poster
OCan21 festival poster
OCan22 festival poster
OCan23 festival poster

Activities and Presentations between Annual Screenings

In addition to our annual screenings, OCanFilmFest programs a number of events including curated online and in-person screenings and fundraising events in collaboration with local filmmakers and other festivals.

In 2020 we launched ‘Shorts at Home’, a series of short films presented online using Vimeo’s Video on Demand service as a means to continue our mission to promote and celebrate and promote Canadian filmmakers and films in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The films for this series were curated by the OCan Board of Directors and we extended our artist fee policy to the 'Shorts at Home' selections. In February 2022, we launched a second series, 'OCan Spotlight', which includes feature-length and short Canadian films, previously featured at the festival, now available to stream on YouTube, Vimeo and on streaming services like CBC Gem. This series has also been featured in numerous National Canadian Film Day initiatives.

In 2022, we launched a companion blog, film613.ca. With a mandate to build engagement and community among film fans in the Ottawa / Outaouais area, the blog consists of film reviews, filmmaking and film promotion tips, and articles related to film and film appreciation contributed by volunteers.

From time to time, the board curates and spotlights locally produced content in a series called 'OCan Presents'. Most recently, we presented episodes from two locally-produced web series, 'Chateau Laurier' and 'No Regrets' at the Bytowne Cinema in 2023.

OCanFilmFest proudly accepts entries on FilmFreeway, the world’s #1 way to enter film festivals and creative contests.

Meet the Team

Jith Paul

Jith Paul  


Jith Paul is an independent filmmaker based in Ottawa. An engineer by training he decided to take a detour to follow his passion for film.  He began the Treepot Film Festival in 2011, a series of 10 curated screenings at independent cinemas and public parks which evolved into the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival in 2015.

Blair Campbell

Blair Campbell


Blair Campbell is a graduate of the television broadcasting program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. He works as an independent producer focused on providing support to local, independent filmmakers through his collaboration with Moonrise Productions.