The Film Reference Library (FRL) is the ultimate 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), the library promotes Canadian and global film scholarship by collecting, preserving, and providing access to a comprehensive collection of reference resources and film materials.
Search the collection | Browse Special Collections | Visit us in person
Founded in 1940, Canadian Picture Pioneers is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to the support of its members from all areas of the Canadian motion picture industry. In 1995, the organization began a project to record interviews with noteworthy figures in the Canadian film industry. The collection consists of 20 exceptional interviews on VHS.
Image: Video recordings of interviews and a commemorative book celebrating the anniversary of the titular organization.
Award-winning Toronto filmmaker and television director Bruce McDonald is best known for his films Road Kill, Hard Core Logo, Highway 61, and Dance Me Outside. His collection contains a wide range of materials relating to his films and his production company, Shadow Shows. It includes scripts, production records, publicity materials, audio visual elements, and artwork.
Image: Large-scale road map collage from the production of Highway 61 (1991).
Canadian filmmaker and activist John Greyson often examines LGBTQ themes through his work. Though he is best known for his films Lilies and Zero Patience, Greyson has also directed for television, including four episodes of Queer as Folk. His archive contains a variety of textual records, as well as graphic materials, photographs, storyboards, and artwork relating to his films.
Image: Storyboard drawings from the development of Greyson's film The Making of Monsters (1991).
November 20-21, 2017 — Libraries, archives and museums are vital hubs of activity that collect, exhibit, and make available heritage materials, facilitate education and community-building, and function as keepers of public memory. This two-day symposium as part of TIFF’s Reel Heritage initiative offers professional development sessions for emerging librarians, archivists, and students looking to enter the field.
This event is supported by the Government of Canada and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. November 20 – November 21, 2017
October 25, 2017 — 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, we are proud to present a free screening of this exquisite IB Technicolor print of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window on October 25.
March 20, 2017 — On March 20, Giovanna Fossati, Chief Curator at EYE Filmmuseum and professor at the University of Amsterdam, joins us for a public lecture exploring findings from her recent books, Exposing the Film Apparatus and Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema. Following her talk, Fossati will screen a selection of silent shorts from the EYE's collection. This event is presented as part of TIFF’s Reel Heritage initiative.
January 13 - June 10, 2017 — Visit the library and take in a free exhibition by Canadian filmmaker and artist Richard Kerr! Kerr transforms salvaged 35mm and 65mm film footage into lightboxes that emphasize the film medium as a sequence of images.
May 2016 — We are delighted to announce the Film Reference Library has recently purchased a collection of DVDs of the work of Canadian documentary filmmaker, Allan King. This acquisition was made possible by a financial donation from Robert Goodwin - a long time TIFF member and Allan King enthusiast. We are grateful for Robert's generosity, about which he said: "TIFF and especially the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the best thing that ever happened to Toronto, in my books. I'm delighted to be able to honour Alan King in my own small way."
May 28-29, 2016 — Join us May 28 + 29 for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Library, a centre for film scholarship that provides resources on all aspects of filmmaking to researchers, students, film makers and film lovers. Tours will begin on the fourth floor, and visitors will have the opportunity to view the 'In Love with the Stars' exhibit in the CIBC Canadian Film Gallery. Tours run daily from 10am-5pm, last tour at 4:30pm.
April 4-10, 2016 — It is "Archives Awareness Week" at Ontario Archives! Did you know you can browse the Film Reference Library special collections online? Check out our unique film-related archival materials by using our "Advanced Search" page, and selecting a collection from the "Special Collection" drop-down menu.
March 31, 2016 — TIFF and the Film Reference Library are participating in Myseum Toronto's "Intersections": a festival highlighting heritage exhibits across the city of Toronto.
Visit the 4th floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox to view the HOME Exhibition, and learn the stories of the people, communities, and organizations that have lived at King and John streets since Toronto’s emergence as a city. Festival runs until March 31st. HOME is a permanent exhibit.
March 11, 2016 — Join Sylvia Frank, Director of the Film Reference Library; Barbara Miller, Curator at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York; and Steve Wilson, Curator of Film at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas for a panel exploring how moving-image related props and other ephemera are exhibited, and how exhibitions of this nature facilitate access to and the preservation of collections. Friday March 11, 11am–12:30pm EST
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.
Ask an expert to book research space or request materials
See our policies and fees
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.
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 tiff.net/collection 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or refer to the Using Special Collections section for more details.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
For four decades, TIFF has been committed to transforming 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 2018 Scholarship has been extended to Monday, January 15, 2018. For the Call for Applications in French and English, visit tiff.net/careers.
Film Reference Library and CIBC Canadian Film Gallery
4th Floor, TIFF Bell Lightbox
416-599-8433 x3 | email@example.com
The library maintains a general reference collection as well as Special Collections to enable research on all aspects of filmmaking. Our collection includes:
*Archived site: Last updated 2008
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.
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