TIFF is a charitable organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world, through film. By providing children and youth from under-served communities with access to free programming through Pocket Fund and our Special Delivery programme, supplying a creative outlet for mental health patients by organizing workshops, discussions and screenings through Reel Comfort, and preserving treasures from Canada’s cinematic history, TIFF brings the power of film to life, 365 days a year.

TIFF Bell Lightbox—Canada's home for film cultureOur Impact Why We Exist

TIFF believes that film can act as a catalyst for self-expression, a launch pad for emerging talent and a springboard for provocative conversation. Film not only entertains us, it also helps bridge the gaps between cultures, time and generations.

For youth in particular, engaging with the moving image can be a profoundly moving transformative experience, allowing them to imagine a future with untold possibilities. By providing free access to programming and workshops, TIFF ensures children from all walks of life are given the chance to experience, dream and create.

TIFF enriches audiences around the world and advances the public's understanding and appreciation of the art, history, technique and technology of film. We collect, preserve, restore, research, exhibit, and provide access to, the very best in Canadian and world cinema.Our programming is broad, diverse, inclusive, and accessible for a wide range of ages, abilities, origins, and interests. We believe in the power of cinema, and that the creative work that goes into filmmaking is both therapeutic and inspiring. 

Whether it's at TIFF Bell Lightbox—Canada's home for film culture—or in a community near you, TIFF is creating a global community of engaged film lovers.

Cinema at TIFF Bell LightboxOur Story What We Do

History of Organization

Founded in 1976 as the “Festival of Festivals”, TIFF is now one of the world’s preeminent film organizations. We're best known for producing the Toronto International Film Festival®, which now attracts nearly 400,000 visitors every year.

TIFF’s year-round status began in 1990 with the launch of Cinematheque Ontario, now TIFF Cinematheque, our carefully curated programme of Canadian and international cinema. Since then, TIFF has grown steadily, adding innovative initiatives to reach new audiences and deepen experiences.

2010 saw the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox, a new kind of arts institution for a relatively new form of art. Every corner of this fully accessible, creative and cultural hub is populated with innovative original programming, including major exhibitions, learning programmes, school workshops, screenings, on-stage conversations, and much more.

Annually, we touch the lives of over 1.5 million people in Toronto and across Canada through our year-round programming and generate an estimated $189 million impact on the local economy each year.

What We Do

TIFF is not limited to the annual festival in September. Our year-round programming and charitable endeavours include various community outreach programmes, film preservation initiatives, national and international cinematic showcases, innovative and experimental exhibitions, and educational workshops and activities. A detailed list of our many accomplishments and accolades are listed below: 

  • TIFF is one of the most important and respected film institutions in the world.
  • In 1990, TIFF assumed management of the Ontario Film Institute. Its Resource Library became the Film Reference Library—which at over 400,000 elements, is now the world's largest resource of English-language Canadian film and film-related materials. 
  • We launched Sprockets—now the TIFF Kids International Film Festival—in 1998 to showcase the best in children's films.
  • TIFF Bell Lightbox, the first facility of its kind in Canada, opened to the public in 2010.
  • In 2012, we launched the for youth, by youth TIFF Next Wave Festival.
  • Our first original exhibition, David Cronenberg: Evolution, premiered in 2013 and is now on tour around the world.
  • digiPlaySpace won the 2013 Ontario Museum Association Award of Excellence in Programmes.
  • In 2015, Film Circuit celebrated 20 years of bringing the best in Canadian and international cinema to under-served communities around the country. The programme reached over 330,000 people in the past year, creating a nation of film lovers.
  • 4,534 children and youth experienced the joy of film, including screenings and film-craft workshops at TIFF Bell Lightbox, free of charge, through TIFF Pocket Fund in 2015. 
  • External screenings and film-craft workshops were brought to 1,576 under-served children and youth across the Greater Toronto Area in 2015 through our Special Delivery programme.
  • In 2015, we touched the lives over 1,200 mental health clients through the Reel Comfort programme, providing film-craft workshops, screenings and discussions to in-patient psychiatric units around the city.
  • Through our Reel Heritage initiative, TIFF engages audiences about the importance of preserving film and the challenges facing moving-image collections.
  • 322 of the 664 films screened as part of our year-round programming were shown on celluloid.

TIFF Pocket Fund subsidizes tickets and travel for youth in under-served communitiesOur Programs How We Do It

TIFF's diverse range of year-round programming opens eyes and expands minds for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. None of this would be possible without the connection and collaboration TIFF performs with educators, students, industry professionals, preservationists, and partners in the community. Our 2,500 volunteers also work tirelessly to make this vision a reality. Here are examples of the impact TIFF has made:

Reel Comfort


Reel Comfort is a unique, innovative programme that provides monthly film screenings, facilitated discussions, special guest visits, and film craft workshops to to Inpatient Psychiatry Units at several Toronto hospitals and community organizations that address mental health concerns. The programme uses film to address the service and care gap in creative expression, and arts-based recreation opportunities for mental health clients.

Film screenings are selected to suit the unique needs and interests of each group, as identified by health professionals at participating organizations. Guest speakers—including directors, actors, and other industry professionals, accompany screenings and participate in question-and-answer sessions with the audience.

Participants also take part in interactive workshops on the art and craft of filmmaking, working together to create short films, screenplays, and other film projects. A recent animation workshop transformed the dining room at Toronto General Hospital's in-patient psychiatry unit into a cinema, as the hand-drawn 16mm films created by the participants were projected on the wall. Participants cheered and congratulated one another after each of their films was shown. 

Thanks to a Vital Ideas grant, Reel Comfort has expanded regular programming at 2 local hospitals and organized pilot events at 4 local hospitals and 4 community organizations.. It is free of cost to hospitals, organizations, and participants.

Program Impact

Since 2007, Reel Comfort has provided film-based recreational programming to over 3,500 participants in Toronto. 

Practitioners have said that it is in a Reel Comfort session when they hear clients speak for the first time. Participants feel recognized and their confidence builds when they join in post-screening discussions – an important step forward and touchpoint for practitioners in conducting later one-on-one therapies.

Elysse Leonard, Coordinator of Reel Comfort states:

"We want to give particpants the opportunity to talk about something other than mental health [...] we're looking to engage the person, not the patient."

Reel Comfort has been shown to:

  • reduce stress;
  • improve interpersonal and communication skills;
  • provide a sense of belonging and community;
  • increase confidence and self-esteem;
  • distract from personal problems;
  • heighten comfort with peers;
  • create an alternative form of communication; and
  • help healthcare practitioners better reach and understand clients.

Reel Comfort also works to reduce the stigma around mental health and has led to informal best practice sharing with other institutions. A documentary project, Faceless, created by filmmaker Jason Lapeyre in partnership with Reel Comfort, offers a rare look at the day-to-day experience inside an urban inpatient psychiatric unit. The film dispels myths and stereotypes about mental illness.

TIFF Pocket Fund


For many children, a field trip to TIFF Bell Lightbox will be their first time seeing a film in a cinema. For others, it'll be their first time holding a camera and going ‘behind the scenes’. For many more, it'll be their first introduction to films made outside North America—opening a window to different cultural perspectives and stories from around the world. Unfortunately, there are thousands of children and youth from under-served communities who are unable to take part due to financial circumstance.

TIFF Pocket Fund provides free and discounted tickets as well as travel subsidies for children and youth from under-served communities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), removing the financial barrier to attend TIFF Kids International Film Festival®, digiPlaySpace, our learning programmes, and our family-friendly screenings.

Program Impact

Since 2002, TIFF Pocket Fund has subsidized ticket and travel costs for more than 25,000 children and youth in the GTA.

"I wanted to thank you for the exceptional field trip my DD class had to digiPlaySpace yesterday. We were all impressed by your fabulous staff. Technology seems to be a great way for students (especially our autistic student) to be engaged in learning, and we have very little of it in our classroom (2 old computers and one iPad).  It might not have seemed like it, but believe me — the amount of participation the students demonstrated in a new environment was amazing."- Teacher, Life Skills Management, Toronto-area secondary school

"I will never forget this place." - Pocket Fund subsidy recipient, age 7, in digiPlaySpace

"I wanted to express a hearty word of "thanks" for again, being so kind as to extend the accessibility of the Pocket Fund for our grade 6 students and staff for today's screening. ALL of our students and staff very much enjoyed the film along with the informative Q & A that followed with the director. [...] Thank you for helping to shape wonderful and lasting memories." - Grade 6 teacher

"Thank you so much for providing tickets for the moms and kids of The Redwood. They LOVED it and could not stop talking about it. [...] Your wonderful gift of tickets made such a difference in the lives of the children with us –seeing a magical movie helps them escape for a little while and gives them something delightful and positive to focus on. Thank you again for making Friday night so special!" - The Redwood: A safe haven for women and children fleeing abuse

Toronto's Vital Signs®

"Self-reported very good to excellent mental health in Toronto is currently lower than the national average (71.1%) and lower than the provincial average (70.4%). 7.3% report fair or poor mental health (the figure was 6.2% in 2008)."       (Toronto’s Vital Signs® 2015)

"The overwhelming majority of Torontonians (97%) see at least one benefit that the arts provide to the city."             (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2015) 

"Even at $25 per capita, Toronto’s spending on arts and culture will remain outshone by Montréal (with $55 per capita spending in 2009), Vancouver ($47), Calgary ($42) and Ottawa ($28)."                                                                         (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2015) 

"89% of Torontonians see at least one benefit that the arts provide to themselves. 66%, for example, report that the arts expose them to new ideas, and 46% say they make them feel proud of their city."                                                     (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2015) 

"Exposure to arts education for young people can build capacity for imaginative and critical thinking along with open-mindedness, which are all important skills for living productive lives as adults."                                                          (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2015) 

"The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has grown from a small 10-day event with an audience of 35,000 in 1976 into a cultural institution that contributes significantly to Toronto’s international reputation. The third largest film festival in the world, and the largest public film festival in the world, TIFF annually attracts well over a million attendees (including more than 1,100 media) from over 130 countries across all its activities. In 2014 1.83 million people attended all TIFF activities" (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2015) 

"Almost all Ontarians polled in 2010 (95%) believe that the arts enrich the quality of life." (Toronto's Vital Signs® 2011) 

Participants at a Reel Comfort workshopWhat You Can Do

Your donation to TIFF will go towards creating wondrous, meaningful experiences for under-served communities and mental health patients, preserving cinematic masterpieces for future generations, nurturing upcoming talent, showcasing educational exhibitions and workshops for people of all ages and, simply, towards changing a child's life.

And there are many ways you can make a difference. As an example, it costs just $9 to send a child to the TIFF Kids International Film Festival or many of our workshops. Go to tiff.net/donate now or, if you have any questions, write to us at donate@tiff.net. We also encourage you to join as a member or a volunteer (or both!).



David Carey
Director, Government & Foundation Relations + Interim Director, Philanthropy
Charitable Number: 119304541RR0011

Finance & Governance


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