Festival Overview

2021 marks the 14th season of the Grand River Film Festival (GRFF)!

The Grand River Film Festival (GRFF), Waterloo Region’s longest running film festival, will celebrate its 14th season with exciting new screening options, formats and ways to engage across Waterloo Region and beyond. Like many in the arts community, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the unexpected cancellation of our 2020 festival. The last few months our team has been hard at work behind the scenes re-imagining ways to deliver a 2021 festival, with a continued focus on celebrating and inspiring the community through the shared experience of film. GRFF Chair Paul Tortolo shares, “It is with great excitement that the all-volunteer GRFF team is working on screening events with its partners and planning for the May 2021 festival.” GRFF will run May 5th to 8th, 2021 as an at-home virtual experience, making the festival accessible in a way it never has been before.

We will continue to take the lead from our public health experts and, where possible, host in-person events but our virtual Festival, GRFF@Home, will include an expanded selection of films available for online streaming. We also hope to offer interactive activities such as live events and Q&As for streaming virtually, to allow our patrons to enjoy a variety of festival content from the comfort of their own home!

Our strategy in the coming months is to stay positive and keep an open mind, and we are excited for the future of the festival and its expansion within Waterloo Region. “Despite the challenges COVID-19 has erected, GRFF sees opportunities for more varied engagements with the film loving community,” says Tortolo. We will continue to work with and support our colleagues in the film festival community as they plan and deliver their events over the next few months. No matter what format we take, the spirit of GRFF will remain intact — a festival that encourages community involvement through a shared love for cinema by offering unique and diverse programming with creative community partnerships.

Finally, we want to once again send thanks to our donors, sponsors and funders for continuing to support us. As a not-for-profit, GRFF wouldn’t be possible without the support of their incredible generosity.

About GRFF

GRFF programs local, Canadian and international films, pairing screenings with panels consisting of film directors, industry professionals, local interest groups and notable guest speakers. GRFF recognizes the power of film to connect people and is thrilled to act as a vehicle for the community to build relationships and host meaningful conversations within the Waterloo Region.

Notable past guests include Academy Award director Yojiro Takita and actress Susan Sarandon, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, Juno award winners Rita Chiarelli, Paul James and Sylvia Tyson, prima ballerina Veronica Tennant, award winning Canadian directors Sturla Gunnarson, Charles Wilkinson, Bruce McDonald, and many other directors, actors, writers and producers in the film industry.