Hamilton rolls out red carpet for nine-day film festival  


Published October 20, 2023 at 5:28 pm

Hamilton Film Festival films movies

For nine days starting this weekend, Steeltown will become its own version of Tinseltown.

Though the Hamilton Film Festival is not as high profile as the Toronto International Film Festival, this year’s lineup includes work by some award-winning and A-list names such as a documentary whose executive producer is Angelina Jolie.

With a lineup of 150 movies, Hamilton’s largest and longest-running film festival kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 21 and ends Sunday, Oct 29.

The 18th edition of the Hamilton Film Festival will be screening films in the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, The Westdale, The Playhouse and The Staircase Theatre.

It wasn’t clear which and if any high-profile actors, producers or other movie heavyweights would attend the screenings. 

The films are not all rated and viewer discretion is advised. Movies created by and for youth will be screened at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 for the Kids Can Film! Event ($5 plus fees)

On Saturday, the local short films and opening night gala will take place at the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre. The red carpet event will be from 7 to 7:45 p.m. The gala begins at 7 p.m. and films at 8 p.m. for $15 plus fees.

The Martini Shot will also screen that day at 2 p.m. ($10 plus fees). The film is an existential drama about an ailing movie director who shoots what he believes to be his final work of art. It stars Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), John Cleese (Monty Python) and Derek Jacobi (Gladiator). Award-winning director and writer Stephen Wallis is a Canadian whose work includes the film Defining Moments, Hollywood Legend Burt Reynolds’s last film. Many crew members are from Hamilton though it was filmed in Ireland.

Examples of other work being screened are short films with a mothers and daughters theme on Monday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. ($12 plus fees). A film titled A Human Picture will be shown on that day at 2 p.m. It explores the basic income topic from a pilot program that was cancelled before it was completed. International shorts will take the spotlight that day as well at 9:30 p.m. for $10 plus fees.

Local documentaries and Short films from the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area will be screened Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. ($12 plus fees), and for Halloween, Thrills and Chills will show short films on Friday, Oct. 27 at 9:30 p.m. ($12 plus fees).

We Dare to Dream, a documentary whose executive producer is Hollywood icon and activist Jolie, will screen Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. It’s the story of refugee athletes from Iran, Syria, South Sudan and Cameroon who swim, run and fight their way to opportunity and safety around the world. The film has notable award winners and industry heavyweights including Academy Award-nominated director Waad al-Kateab. 

Click here for the full schedule. 

On its website, organizers said one of the festival’s goals is to earn the “Hamilton” in its title.

“Not just support for local filmmakers, but to expose the filmmaking world to our city, which is becoming a major location destination,” it stated.


Organizers said the festival is 100-per-cent independent in spirit, programming and operation. The event doesn’t receive any government grants.

Started in 2004 at the Staircase Theatre, the festival was originally dedicated to screening locally made movies. It has since grown to include independent films from more than 50 countries that are screened in multiple venues. 

Along with the films and documentaries featured during the festival, the organization trains people of all ages, from youth with Kids Can Film moviemaking camps to people entering the film and new media scene with industry development programs.

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