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Canadian Labour International Film Festival

Canadian Labour International Film Festival

The Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) is a publicly attended film festival intended to be national in scope in 2007. The first iteration of CLiFF was held in 2009 across Canada in nine provinces and all three territories. More than forty locations participated in the inaugural year.

The Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) is a publicly attended film festival in canada. The first iteration of CLiFF was held in 2009 across Canada in nine provinces and all three territories. More than forty locations participated in the inaugural year. According to its founder, CLiFF was intended to be a "truly national film festival", with locations screening work- and worker-related films across Canada.



Although the first year of CLiFF was held on the weekend of 27, 28 November 2009, the festival orsganisers soon realised more flexibility was needed. In early 2010, Frank Saptel and the Board of Directors designated November as Labour Film Month in Canada.



In 2009, CLiFF in Toronto was held at the venerable Bloor Cinema. In 2010, cost concerns made the orsganisers 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. Due to Innis Town Hall being closed for renovations in 2014, CLiFF moved to its current location at the Carlton Cinema. CLiFF 2015 will continue on at The Carlton.



CLiFF was founded by labour and social activist Bonaventure Francis (Frank) Saptel.

CLiFF Awards

WHSC/CLiFF Health and Safety Award

The Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) established a cash award to go to the film best raising awareness of health and safety issues. The first prize was awarded in 2009 by Dave Killham, Executive Director of the WHSC. The award was discontinued in 2013 due to a lack of submission in this category.



The WHSC/CLiFF Health and Safety Award goes to the producer of a video:

  • 5 to 12 minutes in length
  • Documenting one or more of the following themes: workers' efforts to remove hazards from their workplace, employer retaliation against workers protecting their health and safety, employer use of behavioural-based safety strategies to undermine unions, union organizing drives arising from health and safety concerns
  • The winning video to be presented with cash prize
  • The winning video may be used in WHSC training courses for up to two years.

Best-in-Festival Award

In 2009, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Canada also donated money to go towards a cash prize for the movie judged to the Best-in-Festival. Audiences in Toronto voted on films, on a basis of 1 to 10, with the film getting the highest average judged to be the winner.

The Equal Pay Coalition

On 22 November 2010, the Canadian Labour International Film Festival partnered with the Equal Pay Coalition, Maple Pictures Corp., CUPE-Ontario, The Machinists Union, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and Steelworkers Local 1998 for a special pre-screening of Made in Dagenham, an uplifting film based on the true accounts of a group of extraordinary women who, in 1968, in Dagenham, United Kingdom, found their voice through humour, common sense and courage to fight for equal pay and to put an end to sexual discrimination. The film screened at the Isabel Bader Theatre 93 Charles Street West in Toronto.

Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers

On 25 November 2010 at the Joint Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and Ontario Network of Injured Workers "Health & Safety and WCB Conference" at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in Toronto, the Canadian Labour International Film Festival handed out its CliFF/WHSC Health and Safety Award. The conference was a gathering place for Health & Safety as well as Injured Workers' activists from throughout Ontario. The event saw the Award go to Aisha Gazdar of Pakistan for her film Silent Voices: Home-based Women Workers in Pakistan. The audience was also treated to the debut of the film Their Only Power Was Moral, a history of injured workers in Ontario. It was made by the Injured Workers History Project and coordinated by Robert Storey, professor of labour history from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The special event also saw the screening of Work (in Progress) by Chavisa, where the life of an injured worker is seen through her challenges, both personal and the bureaucratic.

Awards Received

in November 2012, Frank Saptel was awarded the inaugural Min Sook Lee Labour Activist Award by Mayworks: A Festival of Working People and the Arts. Saptel accepted on behalf of the other Board members and all the Location Coordinators and volunteers.



In November 2015, the Ontario Federation of Labour award CLiFF with its triennial OFL Cultural Award







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