The Film Reference Library (FRL) is the ultimate free resource for filmmakers, students, researchers, screenwriters, and film and television professionals. The FRL is a proud affiliate member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), promoting Canadian and global film scholarship by collecting, preserving, and providing access to a comprehensive collection of reference resources and film materials.

Special Collections Film Collection Exhibitions

Canadian Film Encyclopedia*

*Archived site: Last updated 2008

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Collection Highlights

Black Women Filmmakers

Dive into our collection of videos, books, and related research materials to discover the important contributions Black women directors have made to the film industry. Learn more about celebrated trailblazers, the L.A. Rebellion, and the new generation of women who are actively breaking through the celluloid ceiling. Explore the many ways in which these filmmakers have challenged genre tropes and redefined the film canon.

Patricia Rozema Collection

The Patricia Rozema Collection sheds light on the unique creative process of one of Canada’s foremost filmmakers. Browse cast photographs from I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), production designs from Mansfield Park (1999), or ephemera from Rozema’s Festival appearances throughout her career.

Mary Pickford and the Oscars

Feeling nostalgic about the Oscars? The Library collection contains many Canadian connections to the Oscars. Did you know that Canada’s Mary Pickford won the second-ever Academy Award for Best Actress for Coquette in 1929? In addition to being a silent-film actor, Pickford was a producer, a businesswoman, and a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Check out the Rob Brooks Mary Pickford Collection for more details about Pickford’s Hollywood career and her connections to the Oscars.


Archival Jolt!

November 16, 2019, 1:30pm–3pm — During our Supporter Appreciation Weekend, we’re opening our vault to inspect artifacts from the Donna Szoke, Deepa Mehta, and Julian Roffman Collections, among others. See how archival materials such as maquettes and storyboards reveal the process of taking a film from script to screen. Chat with an archivist to learn about our efforts to preserve all of the work that goes into great Canadian films.

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

October 20, 2019 — To mark the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, an annual event which aims to raise awareness of the need for film preservation and the conservation of our audiovisual heritage, TIFF presents a free screening of Julian Roffman's Canadian cult classic The Bloody Brood. Special guests Peter Roffman and Jason Pichonsky will be in attendance to discuss the recent 2K digital restoration!

Culture Days at the Film Reference Library!

September 28, 2019, 12pm–5pm — Film is a powerful tool for promoting well-being. It connects people through storytelling and offers a creative space for self-expression and skills development. Join us at the Film Reference Library to discover film-related resources and to experience a series of interactive activities co-curated by TIFF’s Mental Health Outreach programme. De-stress by watching a selection of short films created by programme participants, or share your voice at our Make Well film-craft station.

“Writing with Scissors”: The Edith Nadajewski Star Scrapbooks and Vernacular Stardom

August 2019 — Denise Mok, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, recently gave a talk about her research on the Edith Nadajewski Scrapbook Collection at this year’s Film Studies Association of Canada conference in Vancouver. Mok has spent the last six months at the Library researching this collection containing over 1,900 scrapbooks made out of brown butcher’s paper and sourced images. Her research focuses on the range of images found in the scrapbooks, the craft of personal curatorship, and how the scrapbooks transform these mainstream cultural products from which the images are sourced.

Film Farm – 25 Years of the Independent Imaging Retreat Exhibition

June 25–July 19, 2019, 12pm–5pm — This exhibition features 50 films handmade at Film Farm (1994–2019), video diaries shot during the retreat (1994–2018), and a 35mm projection of a photogram film. View highlights from 25 years of artisanal cinema and discover hand-processed filmmaking!

Visit the Film Reference Library at Doors Open Toronto!

May 25–26, 2019, 12–5pm — Take a guided tour through the Library stacks and learn about our collection and services. Visitors will be able to view displays of archival treasures, audiovisual equipment and formats, and participate in family-friendly, hands-on activities.

Research Help

The Film Reference Library staff are available to help you with your research needs. We have a knowledgeable staff keen to connect you with our vast resources.

Please visit us on the 4th floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox! See our hours or contact us by phone (416-599-8433 ext. 2) or by email.

Ask an expert to book research space or request materials

See our policies and fees


Borrowing Materials

You cannot borrow materials from the library. We are a reference-only library; materials must used be on the premises. Patrons may photocopy materials following copyright guidelines.

Photographs + Posters

We have over 300,000 production stills and photographic images associated with more than 62,000 distinct film and television title files. For safe care and handling, as well as security purposes, we show stills, slides and photographs by appointment only. To view or research stills, you can inquire at the Library Front Desk or call the FRL to arrange an appointment with the Processing Coordinator.

Can I purchase a poster?

No, we do not sell posters. However, we have many books about posters in the collection that are available for research.


Can I browse the book collection?

No, the collection is maintained in a secure area. Use our online catalogue to complete a preliminary search, or set up an interview with library staff. Users can search using our public terminals, located onsite. Our Library Front Desk staff will assist you in clarifying your research interests. Materials are retrieved from the stacks by FRL staff once you have made your selections.


Can I rent or loan out a DVD?

The FRL is a reference library; we do not rent or loan DVDs. Patrons may watch films on a variety of audiovisual formats by booking a media station in the Gary & Joanne Reamy Family Media Centre

If the FRL doesn’t have a copy of video or DVD, where can I find it? If the title in is not in our collection, we may be able to assist you in locating video or DVD distribution information, or a video/DVD retailer.

Does the FRL have stock footage in the collection? No, the FRL is not a stock footage library. There are other resources in Toronto and across Canada that can supply footage.

**Do you have DVD copies of all the films screened at the Toronto International Film Festival? ** No, we do not have all of these film titles in our video/DVD study collection. A complete list of our titles is available online and at the library reference desk.


The Film Reference Library’s collection of over 6,000 soundtracks is primarily a vinyl collection, and is not currently included in the online catalogue. Requests to listen to material on LP, 45 or 78 formats require 48 hours to be processed. The Library does not make copies of soundtracks for patrons. Please consult with FRL staff regarding soundtrack research.

Handling Materials

Library users are asked to treat all file, book, periodical, and audiovisual material with care, since much of the collection is unique and not replaceable. Please consult with FRL staff before removing paper clips, staples, etc. from material contained in the files. We ask users to return the material to the front desk in the same good condition and order. It is prohibited for users to make folds, marks or notations in any FRL material. Sticky notes may be used but must be removed when the patron has completed their research.

Library staff remove photographs, lobby cards and other special materials from every file before bringing the requested item to the patron. Patrons wishing to view this material must make a specific request at the Reference Desk. Staff will try to accommodate these requests when possible; however, a separate appointment may be required. Patrons must use cotton gloves that are provided to handle any items the Library designates as “special material” – including all photographs. Additional guidelines and restrictions apply to the Special Collections material; please contact the Manager of Special Collections to request materials at, or refer to the Using Special Collections section for more details.


Research Assistance

We encourage everyone to visit the Library in person and become familiar with our resources and the research possibilities.

During public hours, the Library staff are always available to help any patron in person, by phone, or by email at If patrons are seeking in-depth research assistance, the staff offers this service for $100 an hour. In addition, material photocopied on behalf of the client will be charged a per page rate. This kind of research and the related fees will be agreed upon between the client and Library staff in advance.

  • Digital image requests (scanning of photographs, slides and transparencies from the FRL collections)
  • In-depth research requests (research conducted by FRL staff)
Media Stations

The Gary & Joanne Reamey Family Media Centre provides four viewing stations. Stations are available on a first come, first served basis. All coats and bags must be stowed in the lockers provided in the BMO Study Centre. Patrons must be at least 16 years of age if they wish to use the media stations, and may be limited to viewing one film per visit if others are waiting to use the station. We advise calling in advance to make sure the material you wish to view is available. Each station is equipped with a monitor and headphones—the latter must be used when viewing so as not to disturb other users. Up to two viewers may watch simultaneously.

The media stations provide access to a variety ofaudiovisual formats including DVD, Betacam, VHS, 3/4 U-matic, and LaserDisc. The Library does not provide its own playback equipment for digital Betacam or Betacam SP formats. Special arrangements can be made for users to view Betacam SP format (not digital Betacam) material—simply give us sufficient advance notice (2 to 3 working days).

Please note we do not permit users to bring in their own audiovisual material for viewing.


All parcels, knapsacks, purses and bags must be stored in the onsite lockers. Patrons may bring their own laptop, writing and paper materials into the Brian Linehan Research Room. Lockers require a refundable deposit of 25 cents—this deposit is returned to you when you return the locker key. There is a $10 replacement fee for lost locker keys.


Patrons may use the FRL photocopier at the cost of 15 cents per page. The Library staff is available to make change, but can only break Canadian currency of $10 or under. If you are unable to drop by the FRL in person, the Library staff can photocopy and mail you the material you require. You’ll be invoiced for staff service, the per page rate, handling and postage.

Special Collections Photocopying – 30 cents per page + $10.00 handling fee (up to 20 pages). There is no self-serve photocopying of Special Collections materials. Some records may not be able to be copied due to copyright restrictions, donor restrictions, or privacy issues.

Tours + Outreach requests

Information sessions and tours can be set up anytime during the academic year. Please contact the Library Manager if your school or organization is interested in a library orientation.

Tours and orientation

The FRL offers tours and orientations for students, scholars, and the public. Please contact the Senior Librarian Manager for more detailed information or to book your tour.

Public Terminals

There are two public terminals at the reference desk which are set up to help users access the online catalogue and related film study information. The following restrictions apply at all times:

The public terminals cannot be used to access personal email accounts. Problems with the public terminals are to be reported directly to the Library staff. Staff reserve the right to impose reasonable time limits on individual use of public terminals during busy periods.

Accessing the Special Collections

The Special Collections comprise largely original archival records, with some video and audio recording copies, and some published materials or printed matter. The published materials consist of press clippings, festival catalogues and personal or corporate library content. Other printed matter may include programs, marketing materials, press kits, catalogues and ephemera.

This guide is for people interested specifically in the Special Collections materials, which have unique guidelines for access and handling. It contains basic information about the content of the Special Collections, how to set up a research appointment, and the issues we consider in response to requests to use material in the Special Collections.

For more information on how to use Special Collections, please click here

Browse Special Collections

The Library

The Library is free and open to all! Anyone can use the FRL resources. Our patrons include film students, academics, filmmakers, programmers, journalists and the general public. No membership card or members fees are required to access library resources. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a guardian.


The Film Reference Library staff has a right to limit the number of users in the Library. Patrons must sign in at the Reference Desk, where they will be asked to lock their coats and bags in onsite lockers. Research space is available on a first come, first served basis. We ask that patrons limit their stay to four hours. Patrons are encouraged to call ahead to inquire about the availability of research materials.

  • The Library staff reserves the right to remove patrons who are disruptive or who refuse to comply with Library policies.
  • All food and drink is prohibited inside the FRL, with no exceptions.
  • Cell phone use is not allowed in the Research Room or the Media Centre– calls must be made outside of the Library. Patrons are advised to keep talking to a minimum so as not to disturb others.
  • DSLR Cameras and scanners (for the use of photographing materials) are not permitted in the Library. Cellphone and video recorders can only be used with the permission of Library staff.
  • The Library assumes no responsibility for the security and privacy of online transactions.
Library Patron Rights

FRL patrons have the right to confidentiality and privacy insofar as certain constraints allow, such as the proximity of other patrons and staff in the public access area. Complaints from patrons that other users are accessing prohibited material may result in a FRL staff member intervening.

FRL patrons have the right to access and read this document and discuss questions with appropriate staff.

Retrieval of materials

The Film Reference Library is a non-circulating collection: we do not loan any material. Most materials (books, film files, periodicals, biographical files, etc.) are retrieved by Library staff from closed stacks. Please note that some materials are held offsite and may require 48 hours to acquire from storage. Contact Library staff for more information on which materials require advance retrieval notice. There is a limit of five items per patron.


All donation inquiries should be directed to the Director of the Film Reference Library, who can be reached at 416-599-8433 or



Canadian Copyright Law protection is automatic in Canada. A work need not be registered with the Canadian Copyright Office nor does it have to be marked with a © to indicate that it is copyright protected. Copyright Guidelines are posted in the library above the photocopier.

It is important to understand the basics of Canadian copyright law and how it relates to film and underlying works such as music, literature, and promotional material for film.

As well, it is important to know that Canada is a member of two international copyright treaties. Thus, when work is used in Canada, Canadian copyright law applies; when it is used in another country such as Germany, German copyright law applies.

Intellectual Property Laws

Text and image files, audio and video clips, and other content on this website and other websites is the property of the Film Reference Library and may be protected by copyright and other restrictions as well. Copyrights and other proprietary rights in the content on this website may also be owned by individuals and entities other than, and in addition to, the Film Reference Library.

Fair Dealing

The Film Reference Library expressly prohibits the copying of any protected materials on this website, except for the purposes of fair dealing as defined in Canadian copyright law, and as described below.

Fair dealing of copyrighted material includes the use of protected materials for noncommercial educational purposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary and news reporting. For example, unless otherwise noted, users who wish to download or print text and image files from this website for such uses may do so without the Film Reference Library’s express permission, provided that you comply with the following conditions:

  • The content may only be used for personal, educational or noncommercial Purposes.
  • Users must cite the author and source of the content, as for material from any printed work.
  • The citation must include all copyright information, and other information associated with the content, and the URL for the Film Reference Library website.
  • None of the content may be altered or modified.
  • Users must comply with all other terms or restrictions which may be applicable to the individual file, image or text
Commercial use

Commercial use is restricted. Unauthorized commercial publication or exploitation of text, images or content of this website is specifically prohibited. Anyone wishing to use any of these files or images for commercial use, publication, or any purpose other than fair dealing as defined by law, must request and receive prior written permission from the Film Reference Library.

Permission for such use is granted on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the Film Reference Library. A usage fee may be assessed depending on the type and nature of the proposed use.

Third Parties

The Film Reference Library website contains links to third party websites. The linked sites and pages are not under the control of the Film Reference Library and the Film Reference Library is not responsible for the contents of any linked website. These links are provided as a convenience only and shall not be construed as an endorsement of, sponsorship of, or affiliation with the linked website by the Film Reference Library.


TIFF is a charitable cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world through film. An extension of our initiatives is the Jeffrey and Sandra Lyons Canadian Film Scholarship for the development of scholarly contributions related to Canadian film.

The successful applicant is given a stipend of $1,000 CDN, a designated office space, and the opportunity to participate in Higher Learning programming. The Jeffrey and Sandra Lyons Canadian Film Scholarship is generously supported by the Jeffrey & Sandra Lyons Endowment Fund at TIFF. The call for applicants is posted annually in the fall.

The deadline to submit an application for the 2020 Scholarship is January 13, 2020. For the Call for Applications in French and English, visit

Hours + Locations

The Film Reference Library is closed. Please see here for more information, or contact for inquiries.

Film Reference Library and CIBC Canadian Film Gallery
4th Floor, TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King Street West, Toronto
416-599-8433 ext. 2 |

By the numbers

The library maintains a general reference collection as well as Special Collections to enable research on all aspects of filmmaking. Our collection includes:

  • 60,000 film research files (press kits, photographs, news clippings)
  • 20,000 books
  • 13,000 film and television titles
  • 2,000 film scripts
  • 700 magazine and journal titles
  • 80 Special Collections
  • A large and varied collection of research materials, including 300,000 images, 11,000 posters and 6,000 soundtracks

Explore the collection

Our History

The Library assumed operation of the Ontario Film Institute in 1990, when the Province of Ontario selected the Library to be guardian of its film-related holdings and continue the dedicated work of Gerald Pratley, founder of the OFI, by collecting and preserving materials indispensable to film education, production and research.

Library Buzz

Tour the library in this interview with Senior Manager & Special Collections manager - What She Said!

10 Unique Items From the TIFF Film Reference Library - The Review

Inside the Film Reference Library at the TIFF Bell Lightbox — BlogTO profile

Preserving Canadian horror history: Jesse Wente on restoring The Mask — Toronto Film Scene

Interview with Library Director on "In Love with the Stars" Exhibition — FAJO Magazine