Mission & Mandate

The Reel to Real: A Celebration of Moving Images for Youth Society is a non-profit registered charity dedicated to showing the best in culturally diverse, authentic programming for youth. Reel to Real presents an annual film festival, the Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth, and media arts programming year-round.

Through public screenings, hands-on workshops, interactive panel discussions, and public forums, our mission is to involve youth in actively viewing and discussing professionally made films; expose youth to new ideas and cultural perspectives; offer high-quality cinematic entertainment outside the mainstream; explore issues that are important to youth; engage youth in discussions with filmmakers about their work; increase understanding of the art and craft of filmmaking; and promote the production and presentation of high quality independent films for youth.

Brief history

Founded in 1998, the Reel to Real: A Celebration of Moving Images for Youth Society has grown and expanded its presentation of Canadian, independent media artworks. The annual Reel 2 Real International Film Festival began as a four-day event in one venue, and has expanded to an eight-day event in two venues: the Roundhouse Community Centre and Vancity Theatre. Highlights have included the Vancouver premiere of several independent Canadian films: Kayla, directed by Nicholas Kendall; Summer of the Monkeys, directed by Michael Anderson; Eleanore Lindo’s widely acclaimed, award-winning Touching Wild Horses; emerging director Evan Adam’s first feature documentary, Kla Ah Men: As Far Back As the Story Goes about the Sliammon First Nation; Sandra Sawatzky’s innovative film without dialogue, The Girl Who Married a Ghost; and Claude Gagnon’s Kamataki.

In our effort to seek innovative ways to engage youth in discovering their community’s stories, Reel to Real offers a variety of year-round workshops and filmmaking courses. Our most successful programs include Animating History and BC Stories. Thanks to the support of many individuals and organizations, we are able to provide scholarships and free outreach programs for youth who face geographical or financial barriers.

Cultural Safety and Gender Neutrality

The Reel to Real: A Celebration of Moving Images for Youth Society would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather and work is the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. In the spirit of truth before reconciliation, we seek right relations with First Peoples and endeavour to make space for historically accurate understandings of Indigenous cultures within Canada and around the world.

At R2R we are committed to making our festival gender-neutral and safe for all students and patrons. When interacting with students, our staff, instructors and mentors use gender-neutral language. Members of our team address groups with gender-neutral terms such as “folks” and “everyone,” and refrain from saying “boys and girls” and “ladies and gentlemen,” or anything that implies a dominant gender.

Reel to Real is committed to providing students with accessible experiences, and consider the intentional representation of equity groups as an important part of this commitment. We take cultural safety and appropriation seriously. To help us ensure that students are mindfully engaging with traditional knowledge and culturally diverse stories in context, we seek to employ artists from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and encourage them to share their connection to communities and culturally distinct perspectives that may be included in their art practice. Here is the glossary of terms we work with.

R2R’s 20th Anniversary Trailer

The Latest @ R2R

Keep up to date with the latest updates from the R2R team.


Why was Reel 2 Real chosen for the name?

The name Reel 2 Real was chosen because we believe film viewing is an active experience. We take thought provoking films and bring them into real life so youth can engage with media critically and productively (hence, film reels to real life). After screenings, youth are able to participate in hands-on filmmaking activities and discussions with film directors. Our Youth Advisory Board chose the name.

Who is the audience?

Youth between the ages of 6 and 19 can enjoy Reel 2 Real with their families, caregivers, and teachers.

When and where is the festival?

The 2019 R2R Festival will take place April 7-13th at the Roundhouse Community Centre and Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre.

Is R2R open to the general public or just schools?

We’re open to everyone! R2R Festival is for you, your parents, family, friends, teachers, and students. While the films we showcase are intended for a youth audience, they are still incredibly moving, interesting, and thought provoking for people of all ages. Come join us at the Festival and see for yourself! 

How do I get a ticket?

School groups can make reservations for our festival the beginning of January. For information on the school program, contact our Festival Coordinator at education@r2rfestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased online, at the theatre on the day of the screening, or by mail. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop with everything R2R.

Are there subtitles for young viewers?

Yes! To enhance our very young viewers’ appreciation of foreign-language movies, we provide the unique service of having actors read subtitles to the audience through audio headsets provided by Vocal Eye. Subtitles will be read at select screenings. Please check the individual film listings on the website and program guide.

Is seating in the theatres assigned?

No, seating in the theatres is by general admission on a first-come basis. However, we’re very understanding here at R2R and larger groups may request to reserve rows with advanced notice. We will do our best to accommodate those requests.

Who programs Reel 2 Real?

T. Bannister is the Director of Programming. Their sharp eye and skill has allowed R2R to showcase some of the best films in the industry. They work with a selection committee composed of filmmakers, educators, parents, Program Advisors and a Youth Advisory Board.

What kind of films are selected?

We select both Canadian and international films, including live-action dramas, documentaries and animated features and shorts. The films are always of the highest quality and entertaining to a youth audience.

What ages will the films be appropriate for?

Our weekend Films for All Ages Program is aimed at 6-19 year olds. Age recommendations are in our program guide. The School Program is for students in Grades 2-12, in addition, all films are classified.

Do you need volunteers?

Yes. We’re always looking for great new human beings to join our team. For more information about volunteering, please click here.

The Reel to Real Celebration of Moving Images for Youth Society is a non-profit registered charity in the province of British Columbia. The Festival is supported by funding from individuals, government, foundations and corporate sponsors. Registered Charitable Number 88041 8702 RR 0001.


See what people are saying about their experiences with R2R.

“The Reel 2 Real International Youth Jury is an opportunity to see film through a new lens. You are exposed to movies you wouldn’t otherwise see: foreign, local, feature, and short. By watching with a critical eye and discussing with fellow jury members, film takes on a whole new dimension.”

Saskia Vaisey,
Grade 11

“It was different from being just a passive viewer… [T]he result is that we’ll watch movies and TV differently, based on what we’ve learned. In a world dominated by the media, it’s an important skill to be able to… look at these images more critically.”

Adriana Byrne,
Grade 11

“I [was] continually blown away by the number of talented film makers from across the globe that submitted their films to the festival… I hope that film makers keep remembering the youth as an important and influential audience in the future.”

Yasmin Kassam,
Grade 11

“It is rare that there are films which are shown within the school day, fit the curriculum, and merit a field trip. Reel 2 Real films easily satisfy these criteria, and in addition, the VanCity Theatre is a lovely space, which makes the outing even more special. Students engaged in a lively discussion following the film, and many parents commented on how much they enjoyed hearing about the film from their children later on in the day. Engaging in meaningful dialogue is at the heart of my curriculum and key to promoting critical thinking skills. Viewing the film resulted in just that.”

Deborah Roos,
Teacher at Ecole Jules Quesnel

“We learnt and saw so many cool things from so many different and cool looking places, that it was worth it a hundred times over. I learnt how to be a semi-good film critic, to know how to properly judge a good movie.”

Alison Moreau,
Grade 7

“The films I got to see were original, funny, touching, and inspirational, and best of all, they are not the type of things that you can go to see in a theatre… Being on the youth jury really opened my eyes up to a whole new world of information, of culture, and of art. It has been an amazing experience.”

Lauren Selden,
Grade 11


© Copyright 1998-2020 Reel 2 Real: A Celebration of Moving Images for Youth Society. All Rights Reserved.

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