Toronto Film Festival Launching Official Market In 2026, Boosted By $17M Of Government Funding; Organizers Aim To Double Industry Attendance

The Toronto International Film Fest will launch an official market, kicking off in 2026 and boosted by a generous C$23 million (US$16.9 million) of funding from Canada’s Federal Government. TIFF organizers said the new market will be a “game-changer” for the Canadian and wider international business. Festival CEO, Cameron Bailey, told Deadline he wants to see industry attendance more than double.

“We have been a great platform to buy and sell and pitch for so many years, but I think there’s so much more we can do by providing bigger, more robust infrastructure, and more opportunities for people to meet,” the festival boss said. “We have plans to grow from about 5,000 industry delegates to over 12,000 in the next few years.”

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The hefty government investment, announced as part of the Federal budget in April, will be spread across three years. Bailey and Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF, are here in Cannes to talk to industry about the plans.

“There’s an unofficial market at TIFF and has been for years, and companies that have been coming to TIFF for very long time and it works very well for them,” Lee said. “But what we’re also seeing is that there are a lot of new companies and new markets, and they’re very interested in TIFF as a gateway to North America. To have an official market and to actually have visible infrastructure will really allow [attendees from] new markets and new companies to participate more fully.”

With the indie film business challenged there have been changes in the landscape — AFM’s move from LA to Vegas is a notable shift.

T&E spend is under the microscope like never before, but Lee said there is a space for a new market at Toronto: “The packaging and the financing of projects is really becoming just as vital as sales at the back end and TIFF is really well located in Toronto and in the calendar year. There’s a real gap and opportunity to have this official market. We have all of these companies come in every year and what we what we are really understanding is that it’s a real opportunity for them to not only launch their films in official selection, but to do 360 business.”

The TIFF team are looking for a venue close to the current action, with Lee keen to keep TIFF a walking festival. Toronto’s industry program and talent labs will come under the umbrella of the new market. Organizers are also interested in creating an IP market and a works in progress showcase.

Bailey said he has been impressed with how the Cannes market in France has worked with online networking too Cinando and the ambition is to use the cash at hand to build a market at TIFF that has tech built in.

“We’re now looking at what is the next step forward that can build on what Cinando was able to accomplish. It’s not just about going around different booths, physically, at one time of year, but having a way to stay connected, to connect and communicate with each other. Maybe there’s an ecosystem where the entire process of pitching, negotiating and all of those things can be done together and interact with what goes on physically.”

The swings and roundabouts of festival organizing mean TIFF has received a big chunk of funding from the government, but is also dealing with Bell ending a decades long deal to be the festival’s major sponsor.

“It’s a complex reality,” Bailey said. “This funding from the Federal Government is to support the expansion of the market activities specifically. At the same time, we still have the ongoing challenges that I think many festivals do in terms of stable funding. We are out speaking to a number of different corporate partners who will step into some of the roles that other partners like Bell had occupied. Those conversations are going very well. I am very optimistic in terms of where we will be.”

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