The Best Film Festivals in Alberta | Best Prairie Film Festivals

Posted by Grant Patten on Feb 4, 2021 6:58:40 AM

The Best Film Festivals in Alberta | Best Prairie Film Festivals

Best film festivals in Alberta
Let’s provide a high-level overview of some of the best film festivals in Alberta. Of course, there are other good film festivals in the region and this list isn’t comprehensive; however, the below festivals are certainly among the most notable in Alberta.

We’ll discuss (in no particular order):

  1. Calgary International
  2. Calgary Underground Film Festival
  3. Edmonton International
  4. NorthwestFest
  5. Edmonton Short Film Festival
  6. Banff Mountain Film Festival
  7. Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival
  8. Dreamspeakers International Film Festival

Calgary International Film Fest (CIFF) | best film festivals Calgary

Calgary skylineSource: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 517703239, Shutterstock


Probably the biggest, most well known film festival in Alberta is Calgary International Film Festival.

The festival’s mission is “to entertain and engage audiences by curating the most innovative and compelling films, and creating remarkable festival experiences.”

Awards conferred at CIFF include the DGC Best Canadian Documentary Award, Best International Narrative Feature, Best Live Action Short Film and Best Alberta Short Film. The 2020 festival adapted to COVID-19 health & safety protocols with a hybrid of in-cinema screenings and streaming movies.

Calgary Underground Film Festival and CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival


The Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is a film festival held annually for one week at the Globe Cinema in downtown Calgary.

Founded in 2003, this festival screens primarily contemporary feature, animation and short works; CUFF offers a unique roster of films rarely seen in North American theatres. There is a separate festival for docs called CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival.

Festival awards include the Audience Award for Best Film and the Jury Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature and Best Canadian Short. In 2020, CUFF cancelled all in-cinema events and moved to an online-only festival.

Edmonton International Film Festival

Edmonton City Centre (Wikipedia)Source: The original uploader was Colin Keigher at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons (no changes made)


The Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF), founded in 1986, is a nine-day film festival hosted at the Landmark Cinemas in Edmonton City Centre (pic).

The EIFF program consists of hundreds of films in various genres, ranging from short to feature-length, domestic to foreign, studio to independent, and from dramatic work to documentary.

Awards conferred at EIFF include Best Documentary Feature, Best Dramatic Feature, Best Canadian Feature and Best International Feature. In 2020, given the COVID-19 pandemic, a subscriber-based satellite TV channel presented the EIFF.

NorthwestFest | best documentary festivals AB


NorthwestFest is an annual film festival in Edmonton that programs a lineup of documentary films and also local art, music and media. This is the longest running documentary film festival in Canada, originally launched in 1983.

Awards conferred at the festival include Best Canadian Feature, Best Canadian Short Film, Best International Feature and Best International Short Film. The 2020 NorthwestFest took place online.

Edmonton Short Film Festival | best short film festival Alberta


The Edmonton Short Film Festival (ESFF) showcases diverse projects such as trailers, music videos, web series, commercials and, of course, short films. This festival is dedicated to the elevation of the Alberta independent filmmaking community.

Awards conferred at ESFF include Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Suspense/Horror, Best Animation and the People’s Choice Award. During the pandemic, ESFF moved to an online platform to broadcast the festival digitally.

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Banff skylineSource: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1138051346, Shutterstock


Date: The 2021 Banff Mountain festival will be held from October 31 – November 8.

Founded in 1976, the Banff Mountain Film Festival is an international film competition and annual presentation of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports and the environment.

Films screened at this festival tend to feature climbing, skiing, kayaking, mountaineering, biking, adventure and other outdoor-related activities. Awards conferred at this festival include the Grand Prize, the Creative Excellence Award and the Audience Choice Award. The 2020 festival was held virtually.

Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival | best queer film festival Alberta


Founded in 1999, the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival is the longest running LGBTQ film festival in Alberta. The Calgary Queer Arts Society hosts the festival.

This festival exists to give voice to queer people and their stories. The films screened are generally written, directed, produced and/or starred in by LGBTQ persons from around the world. Awards conferred at this festival include the Programmers Choice for: Feature Film, Short Film, Documentary and Student Film. The 2020 festival was screened in a digital format.

Dreamspeakers International Film Festival | best indigenous film festival Alberta


Founded in '92, the Dreamspeakers International Film Festival is an annual festival in Edmonton that programs a lineup of films related to First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other indigenous peoples. The films screened tend to be made by indigenous filmmakers.

Awards conferred at the festival include Best Canadian Documentary Feature, Best Canadian Documentary Short, Best International Documentary Feature and Best International Documentary Short. The 2020 Dreamspeakers festival was postponed.

Get Film Insurance | Short-Term Film Production Insurance | Film Equipment Insurance | Video Equipment Insurance | Film Screening Insurance

If you’re researching film festivals in Alberta, chances are that you’re a filmmaker yourself or somehow involved in the film industry.

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Front Row’s Short Shoot insurance policy (Canada) is a good option for insuring your short-term film projects. Coverage for up to 15 consecutive days of filming. The coverage is available online, 24/7. Covers rented gear, rented locations, rented props, sets, wardrobes, and more. You can get a quote in two minutes and purchase a policy 100% online.

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In addition, film festivals should consider insuring their film screening events; movie theatre insurance can be purchased online in Canada.

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