October 20–21, 2023

Small File Media Festival 2023

The Small File Media Festival returns for its fourth iteration! We are delighted to partner with The Cinematheque to present over sixty jewel-like works from across the globe. These movies are small in file size, but huge in impact: by embracing the aesthetics of compression and low resolution (glitchiness, noise, pixelation), they lay the groundwork for a new experimental film movement in the digital age. This year, six lovingly curated programs traverse brooding pixelated landscapes, textural paradises, and crystalline infinities.

Why small files? Because streaming media is killing the planet! Streaming comprises a significant chunk of the world’s digital carbon footprint. Information and communication technologies as a whole cause 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions—that’s the same as the airline industry—and are rising fast. Watching small-file media together on a big screen brings the democratic potential of cinema into the digital age by showcasing artworks made with eco-friendly practices, affordable equipment, and minimal processing time (all without sacrificing artistry or immersion).

How small is a small-file movie? No more than 1.44 megabytes per minute, the storage size of a floppy disk. (TikTok is positively bloated in comparison, at 70 megabytes per minute.) Small-file creators use ingenious techniques to make these tiny movies beautiful and effective. We invite you to lean in, open your eyes and attune your ears, and prepare to experience a new cinematic avant-garde.

Small-file ecomedia are not just good for the planet, but essential for people living with intermittent electricity and low bandwidth—so long to the 4K, 5G dystopia of bandwidth imperialism! This year we’re especially proud to collaborate with filmmaker and researcher Mehvish Rather, who will share her research on how small-file media can be utilized for political sustainability in the face of state suppression that takes the form of internet blockade and restriction.

Join us Friday, October 20 for the opening-night program followed by a drinks reception in the lobby and a dance party in the cinema, featuring music by Vancouver electronic artist SAN. We’ll announce the winner of the coveted Small File Golden Mini Bear during Saturday’s award ceremony! As always, the festival will stream online at small​file​.ca after the live events. Find out about additional festival events at small​file​.ca.

We’re most grateful to our future-forward friends at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, and SFU Contemporary Arts. Thanks to VIVO Media Arts, Cairo Video Festival, and The Hmm for generous distribution and exhibition awards, and to UKRAïNATV, a partner in small-file activism.

Cosmically healthy, community-building, and punk AF, small-file ecomedia will heal the world, one pixel at a time.

As a prelude to the upcoming 2023 Small File Media Festival, the Small File Media Retrospective (September 18–October 19) explores the affective power of experimental ecomedia through a curated selection of green and artful small films. Programs will run 15 minutes before the first regular evening screening each night, admission is included.


List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2023-Oct SFMF Series 1
2023-Oct SFMF Series 2
2023-Oct SFMF Series 3
2023-Oct SFMF Series 4