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Frequently Asked Questions

We have organized the FAQ by festival audience and filmmaker points of view.

Do you have a question to send in? Check out the email button in the CONNECT area at the bottom of the page.

Festival Audiences

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:

  • Films at OCan are jury-selected from submitted work that is already produced and completed.
  • All featured films are Canadian. Films are written or directed by Canadian filmmakers.
  • There are no genre, theme or duration requirements. Selected films are usually a mix of short films, feature-length films and those that fall in between those two categories. Films can be narrative (fiction), documentary or experimental. There may even be a sprinkiling of dance films, music videos and cine-poetry.
  • There is no premiere requirement. A film you see at OCan may be the first time it is shown to an audience outside of the filmmakers, or it may be Canadian movie that has had incredible buzz on the festival circuit elsewhere but not yet widely available. You may see a short film or two that was made in response a "catch" or featured at another festival held in Ottawa or elsewhere earlier in the year or a few years ago. You may also see a film that has been available on a streaming platform getting its big-screen theatrical debut.
  • Artist Fees (also referred to as Exhibition or Screening Fees) are paid to filmmakers for all films selected to screen at OCan.
  • Festival audience select one film as the audience favourite every year.
  • OCan is an IMDB qualifying festival, and is listed among qualifying festivals for the Canadian Screen Awards by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

Do you collect any personal information on your website?

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival (OCanFilmFest) does not require or collect personal information to use this website. We use Google Analytics to track usage on our website in order to focus on content popular with our audience and we use third party services for film curation and payment processing. Complete details can be found in our Privacy Policy.

What's the difference between your 'Annual Festival', 'Shorts at Home', and 'Spotlight' screenings?

Our Annual Festival screenings (usually in November) are competitive. Films submitted by filmmakers across Canada in response to a Call for Submissions published on FilmFreeway are evaluated by a jury of volunteers comprised of a mix of filmmakers and film fans.

The Shorts at Home series and Spotlight series films are curated by OCanFilmFest's Board of Directors. The selections are non-competitive and are scheduled to run between Annual Festival screenings. The Spolight series highlights both feature-length and short films from our previous screenings that are now available online on YouTube, Vimeo or streaming services such as CBC Gem.

Participating filmmakers in the Annual Festival screenings and are paid artist/exhibition fees, in keeping with the festival's mission to support and celebrate the production of Canadian films. This policy was extended to films screened as part of Shorts at Home series in 2021.




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.

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.

How are the films for the annual festival screenings chosen?

The selection of films for the annual festival is done in two phases. In phase one, the jury evaluate and ranks 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.

How long has the festival been around?

Our founders have been curating and collaborating with other organizations and film festivals in Ottawa since 2011. We incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2014. Our first full festival was in 2017. We have hosted annual festival screenings and other screening series ('Shorts at Home', 'OCanFilmFest Presents') between annual festival since then. Some of the panel discussions we have hosted can be viewed on your YouTube channel. Check the CONNECT links at the bottom of this page. Check out our Archive page for more information.

How is the festival run?

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival was co-founded by Ottawa-based filmmakers Jith Paul, Ed Kucerak and Blair Campbell in 2015. The festival was an evolution of the Treepot Film Festival spearheaded by Treepot Media's Jith Paul. OCan is a non-profit organization 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. The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is artist and volunteer-run, and is strongly committed to fostering diversity in our 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. Sponsorships, donations, 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.

Are submissions accepted exclusively through FilmFreeway or can we send in work directly electronically or by mail?

We only accept submissions via FilmFreeway.

Can you submit more than one film?

Yes. You can submit as many films as you like, provide they satisfy all the terms set out in the Call for Submissions on FilmFreeway.

How much local (Ottawa) content is showcased in the festival?

We receive Canadian film submissions from across Canada. How many local shorts and feature films showcased depends primarily on the quality and quantity of eligible films received and the available screening slots.

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 generated a large number of spam submissions and/or submissions that did 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.

The second reason for requiring the submission fee is for a source to fund the artist/exhibition fee we pay to the filmmakers whose films are selected to screen at the festival.

My film premiered at a festival screening in the Ottawa. Is it eligible for your festival?

We will accept submissions that have already premiered in the area.

I have licensed my film to a broadcaster. Is it eligible for your festival?

If your film has been broadcast on a network with coverage in Ottawa area prior to the festival date, it is still eligible. Please double-check with the broadcaster and notes in your specific license agreement to confirm it is allowed.

My film was shown at a screening primarily for cast and crew in the Ottawa area. Is it eligible for your festival?

Yes it is eligible.

I saw the line “Films submitted MUST be written or directed by a Canadian filmmaker” in your criteria on FilmFreeway. Can permanent residents, submit films?

Thanks for the question. We have reworded our criteria so that permanent residents qualify. Films submitted MUST be written or directed by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

How old do you have to be to submit a film?

We do not have a minimum age requirement to submit a film for consideration to our festival. However, if your film is short-listed, before it could be accepted, we would need your parent or legal guardian to take legal responsibility and certify that all permissions and releases have been obtained for all footage, music and appearances (interviews or actors) used in the film.

Do you offer the ability to pay submission fees in currencies other than USD?

As of January 2020, FilmFreeway has updated their platform so that we can now list our submission fees in Canadian Dollars! Ensure you choose your preferred currency in your profile.

Do you offer waivers for submission fees?

We do not offer submission fee waivers since that wouldn’t be fair to the independent filmmakers who pay to submit their work for consideration. Our Call for Submissions on FilmFreeway includes discounts for eary submission.