Backgrounder to CLiFF

Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF)


CLiFF is a publicly attended film festival, which is national in scope. The first iteration of CLiFF was held in 2009 across Canada in nine provinces and all three territories. FREE.

The CLiFF founding committee, comprised of social justice, community and trade union activists took two years to plan before making its debut across Canada. In its inaugural year, more than 40 locations across the country participated in CLiFF, making it one of the more remarkable appearances of a film festival anywhere in the world.

In early 2010, the Board of Directors designated November as Labour Film Month in Canada. CLiFF is held across Canada in the month of November.

In 2009, CLiFF in Toronto was held at the venerable Bloor Cinema. In 2010, cost concerns made the organisers move the venue to Innis Town Hall, home of the Cinema Studies program at Innis College. Innis Town Hall, which includes a fully equipped cinema, hosts numerous film festivals, free film screenings, and a variety of other cultural events at the University of Toronto.

Festival-in-a-Box (FIAB)

Cliff has developed the innovative Festival-in-a-Box (FIAB), designed to accommodate those who aren’t comfortable with the notion of hosting a film festival or screening films. FIAB puts a complete film festival in a ready-to-use format which demystifies the whole process. Essentially, the CLiFF Board of Directors selects a 120-minute to 180-minute program comprising of films already accepted into the festival and packages them with additional materials to help the hosting location (any town, city, village or municipality) pull off a festival where they live (see handout on FIAB – attached).


The Canadian Labour International Film Festival tells the stories of workers – unionised and non-unionised. CLiFF is the stage and the voice of those who seek justice on the job and dignity in their workplace. CLiFF would also like to bring the subject of unpaid work into a public discussion

Our festival provides a national platform to show and showcase those stories which have been made into films, but cannot find an audience beyond the film makers’ own circle of influence. We give filmmakers exposure across Canada (and in some parts of the United States). We bring the community attention to labour films made in the past that represent stories that deserve wider and current audience?

History and Young Workers

CLiFF also intends to provide workers all over Canada with examples of what other workers have done, whether in Canada or around the world, to deal with challenges they have had in their workplaces.

The trade union movement and individual workers have played an important role in shaping the Canada we know today. Many of our films show struggles of the past, as well as details of what is happening today.

Furthermore, giving workers, especially young workers, an opportunity to learn some of the history of the trade union movement is crucial in continuing to fight for our rights. Those who hold the torch now are looking forward to passing it into hands with much more energy.