Film Heritage


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TIFF believes in the power of cinema; watching a film on its original, intended format is a stunning experience. Yet, the medium itself is extremely delicate and needs to be cared for with the utmost attention. With this in mind, we have made it our mission to preserve film’s vital history for generations to come. And because of your support, we are making this a reality:

  • TIFF is one of the few North American institutions actively protecting and projecting film. Throughout our history, we have restored 7,470 feet of the medium, including the Canadian horror classic The Mask, a preservation project funded by our valued donors.

“We screened [The Mask] as part of Audio Visual Heritage Day.
Just running it through the projector that one time was all it could stand,
given the condition it was in. It sparked the idea that we should explore
what it would mean to restore it, and that began the process.”

—Jesse Wente, Director, TIFF Cinematheque

  • Last year, TIFF acquired over 1,300 film prints on 35mm from our friends at NBC Universal, Mongrel Media ,and Entertainment One. Highlights include classics like Hitchcock’s Rear Window; acclaimed international work such as Certified Copy from master Abbas Kiarostami; and contemporary favourites like Sarah Polley’s Away from Her. Through the generous donations made by 220 film lovers like you to the 2016 Save this Moment campaign — which raised over $60, 000 — these prints and hundreds more are now being reviewed and cared for by specialists in our facilities.

Film print storage

“The film cans that take up shelves in our basements are reassuring,
tactile artifacts. The extensive film preservation programme of TIFF
— to get those cans out of basements and into proper long-term storage —
is a crucial part of maintaining our cinematic history,
and a vital counterpoint to the planned obsolescence of current technology.”

—Jennifer Baichwal, award-winning filmmaker

  • Established in 1990, our Film Reference Library holds the world’s largest collection of English-language Canadian film in the entire world. Preserving images, film titles, reference materials, posters, soundtracks, and scripts, it’s an incredible resource for film students, scholars, filmmakers, screenwriters, and anyone who loves film.

“TIFF’s Film Reference Library is one of Toronto’s
best-kept secrets for movie lovers and film buffs.”


  • The Restored and Reel Heritage programmes are designed to engage and educate audiences on the importance of preserving, protecting, and projecting film. Part of our Higher Learning programming, recent presentations include discussions on film research and preservation, the art of film projection, and film ephemera and collections management.
  • TIFF’s year-round and Festival programming includes extensive Cinematheque screenings. We recently programmed retrospectives on legends such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Abbas Kiarostami, Wim Wenders, and Anna Magnani, with many films screening on gorgeous 35mm.

Reel Heritage