CENSURED IN CANADA was originally launched in 2014 to create a space for Canadian-based artists & works marginalized and rejected by Canadian festivals and institutions – whether it was due to a lack of the “right” credentials / connections; or the work challenges aesthetic / cultural / social norms of Canada. The seeds of the festival began in 2013, when art-ivist Stephen Chen set out on a year long quest to explore opportunities for independent work free of cliquish / commercial / institutional / funding pressures. Yet despite being productive and successful internationally at doing so, he found his work constantly rejected by Canadian festivals and organizations.

I realized there were many like me; artists ineligible for funding, artists with unique or contrarian voices, artists without the right credentials, artists without the right connections, artists struggling to create and to be heard. In short, the “rejects” from Canadian festivals and institutions. Having lived in exile for over 10 years from a country sans democratic expression, I find the disconnect between the openness / diversity / multiculturalism that Canada promises and the lack in its cultural forms and institutions rather galling. I had to do something about it.

Stephen Chen

Film festivals typically revolve around pro forma aesthetics (typically white bourgeois) and splintered into niches and cliques (yet 40% of Canadian filmmakers did not attend arts/film school in Canada). The focus of CENSURED IN CANADA was around unique style and subject matter one won’t necessarily experience in other Canadian festivals; a platform to showcase diversity and works that won’t otherwise be seen (despite having premiered elsewhere). Inspired by the experiential aspects of vKunst Frankfurt and MIX NYC, the festival was based around a $10 day pass to enable audience accessibility and experimentation with familiar and unfamiliar genres and styles.

The festival becomes Artistic praxis – to transcend cliques via alternative models, and inspire others to find new ways around institutional barriers. Above all, demonstrate it is possible to curate diverse genres (narrative fiction, documentary, experimental ,hybrid etc.) and content into a cohesive program – so no curator should have an excuse not to.

Conceived & Produced by Stephen Chen | 2015 – 2017 CENSURED IN CANADA film festival


Applicants must be the director or producer of the submitted work.
Applicants must be based, or resident in Canada; this includes non-landed residents of Canada (e.g. work permits)


All genres / styles / experiments are accepted.
Unless silent (no dialog), submitted works should be in English / have English subtitles.
The submitted work must not have been created for commercial purposes.
The submitted work must be a Canadian premiere, and must have been rejected by at least 2 to 3 Canadian film festivals. The more the merrier.

Although we welcome diverse peoples, experiments, opinions and perspectives, we reserve the right to reject work that was created to instill hatred and prejudice.

dissonance productions
Started by trans-discplinary art-ivist Stephen Chen to consolidate his recent work; as well as facilitate collaboration with others. Stephen’s oeuvre is often allegorical as well as simultaneously deconstruct and hybridize the very forms he works in. Disdaining academic and esoteric expressions, as well as institutional conventions and practices, Stephen explores complex ideas and issues immanent in his works through experiments in form and technique.