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Durham Region International Film Festival returns next week

The Durham Region International Film Festival (DRIFF) is returning to three different venues across the region from October 19 to 21.

The festival will showcase a carefully curated line-up of film programming, including Durham Region and Canadian productions alongside international films. In addition to film screenings, DRIFF 2023 will offer workshops and panels for audiences and filmmakers to engage and learn more about the fascinating industry of film, said a region statement.

During a time of high inflation and rising prices everywhere, DRIFF announced affordable tickets for Day 1 and Day 2 at $10 each, while Day Three is $15.

“Kirk Cooper, DRIFF’s Director of Programming, has assembled a wonderful variety of features and short films, from amusing to inspiring,” says Karen Burwell, DRIFF Chair. “In addition, we are delighted to be joined by the creators of each of our feature films, all eager to connect with film lovers. DRIFF has live films, virtual films, stimulating conversations, and great networking – all without that tiresome commute!”

DAY 1: It will begin at the Centennial Building in Whitby with the opening night feature, SUZE (Canada), a dramatic comedy directed by husband-and-wife duo, Dane Clark, and Linsey Stewart. The film follows Suze (Michaela Watkins), a single mom who has lost her purpose after her daughter leaves for college. Stuck taking care of her daughter’s heartbroken ex-boyfriend who she can’t stand, Suze ends up on a journey of self-discovery and finds what living purposefully really looks like, while making an unlikely bond along the way.  The short film Primitive Times (Germany) will precede the opening night feature.

DAY 2: It takes DRIFF to the St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts & Culture in Ajax. Kicking off the night with a pre-screening party, this year DRIFF will be offering festivalgoers the chance to indulge in a Local Food Showcase, featuring three chefs from around Durham Region. The night will also feature a panel discussion with film and television industry experts on finance, insurance, and distribution. The evening will proceed with a screening of the feature film, The Boy In The Woods (Canada), directed by Rebecca Snow. Based on the memoir of the same name, the film follows the true story of Max (Jett Klyne), a Jewish boy escaping Nazi persecution in eastern Europe. The film will be preceded by the short film, Demon Box (Canada). The screening of the second feature film, When Hope Breaks Through (Canada), directed by Matthew Wagner, will follow shortly after. This inspiring documentary follows Mike Shoreman, a disabled professional paddleboarder, who sets out to raise awareness and funding for the youth mental health crisis in Canada by paddle-boarding across all five Great Lakes.

DAY 3: DRIFF begins with a free event at the Biltmore Theatre in Oshawa  looking into the world of sound effects in film with a Foley Workshop presented by Footsteps Post-Production Sound Inc. Next, a panel of industry professionals will take the audience behind the scenes with a look into the filmmaking process and a chance to learn about exciting careers in film such as cinematography, music scores, make-up and special effects, production coordination, and more.

The doors will re-open for the ticketed event with a homegrown shorts program, including The Fore-Men (Canada), Beyond The Ranch (Canada), Colin Carvey’s Long Halloween (Canada), Not Here, Not There (Canada), Tiger Mom (Canada), and Redlights (Canada). After a short break, the evening will begin with a screening of the feature film Purple Don’t Cry (Canada), directed by Mamoun Hassan. This crime/drama film follows a misguided young man who ignores the advice of a gang leader and begins selling drugs to achieve his dreams of a luxury lifestyle. However, he soon realizes that quick money comes with deadly consequences. The second feature film of the night is Egghead And Twinkie (USA), a coming-of-age LGBTQ+ comedy directed by Sarah Kambe Holland. The film follows an Asian American teenage girl who, after coming out to her parents, takes off on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend. The film will be preceded by the animated short film Frida In The Sky (Canada).

A panel of independent judges will award cash prizes to four films in the following categories during the awards ceremony:

  • Best Features,
  • Best International Shorts,
  • Best Student Film,
  • Best Canadian Shorts,
  • Best Doc,
  • Best Animation Short, and
  • Best Regional Film.

The film winning the People’s Choice Award will be announced on and on DRIFF’s social media platforms (@catchthedriff).

Tickets and program information are available now at

DRIFF is a not-for-profit film festival rooted in the communities of Durham.

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