Hospice Waterloo Region is thrilled to announce the launch of our 4th annual short film competition, in partnership with the Grand River Film Festival!

YODOContest is a short film competition

This short film contest calls on filmmakers and storytellers to focus on death as a part of living. We want you to use your artistic expression to create a film of 5 minutes (excluding credits) in length that explores and educates others about the personal journeys through death, dying and bereavement in an authentically unique way that has a positive influence on the community.

#YODO: You Only Die Once is about living well until you die. This phrase reminds us that life matters right until the end and that how we live to the end does matter. While death is a natural part of life, many people distance themselves from the topic of death which has created a death-denying culture. This “death denial” causes us to avoid the subject leaving us unprepared to support our family, friends, neighbours and community to live well until the end of life. Hospice of Waterloo Region believes that living well until we die begins by challenging our ”death denial” and igniting conversations about death, dying and bereavement. 

New for 2024

  • We have extended the length of video submissions to a maximum of 5 minutes (from 3 minutes in previous years).
  • For the first time, documentary-style films will be accepted.
  • And this year we are expanding outside of Waterloo Region! We welcome filmmakers and storytellers in the Region of Wellington to also submit their proposals.

Contest Timeline

Here are the important deadlines and stages to be aware of:

  • Monday, Sept. 18, 2023 — Call for film proposals opens!
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8th (at 11:59 p.m.) — Deadline to submit film proposals
  • Friday, Nov. 17, 2023 — Successful applicants will be notified
  • Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 — Deadline to submit final films
  • Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2024 — The winners will be announced!

The winning films will be screened at the Grand River Film Festival in May 2024.


This film competition is open to amateur and professional filmmakers and storytellers aged 20 years and older that currently reside within the Region of Waterloo or the Region of Wellington.

For full eligibility requirements, please visit our FAQ page.

Proposal Submissions

In the proposal form, we will be looking for a theme/focus, and a short synopsis of the story you plan to tell.

The proposal submission form is due Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 by 11:59 p.m.

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of community stakeholders. Each submission will be judged on it’s alignment with HWR’s vision of supporting people to live until they die. More specifically, the films’ originality, creativity and ability to inspire conversation through a story focusing on personal journeys through death, dying and bereavement in this community.

After a submission is approved (Nov 17, 2023) the filmmaker will receive a copy of the matrix that will be used to determine the YODO contest winning films to better guide them through their filmmaking process.

Please note: It is the intent of Hospice of Waterloo Region to use these short films for community outreach, education, and marketing purposes. 

The Winners

There is a prize of $650 for 1st place and $350 for 2nd place. There will also be one honourable mention chosen from the final submissions.  The winners, will be announced by Hospice Waterloo Region on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 and will be showcased as part of the Grand River Film Festival. 

As part of the festival promotion, winners will received two free admission tickets to the festival. They will also be highlighted and invited to participate in the GRFF podcast and any other events leading up to the festival. 

The first place winner will be invited to return as a #YODOContest judge for the 2024/25 season.

Join Us For Educational Sessions

Filmmakers interested in learning more are encouraged to attend an upcoming event while creating their proposal.

Wednesday, Oct. 11th — Death Café –  Join us for an informal gathering where we provide a supportive space to share thoughts, ideas, concerns, questions and experiences around end-of-life, loss, death and dying. Note: this is not a counselling or grief support group. Event is free and open to the public, please RSVP.

Friday, Oct. 20th — Film Friday – You are invited to Hospice Waterloo Region on Friday, Oct. 20th at 1-3pm for an afternoon of film and conversation. This month we are featuring the winning films from our 2023 #YODOContest, and the feature film, “Serving Life.”

Saturday, Oct. 14th – Dying to Know — This full day event at St. Andrew’s Church in downtown Kitchener provides great speakers, resources and information about planning ahead, living with illness, supporting someone who is ill and grief/bereavement supports. Event is free and open to the public. 

Hospice Waterloo Region – Vision/Philosophy of Care

  • Hospice Waterloo Region strives to create and support a community where no one experiences an end of life journey alone.
  • Our goal is to engage the community to inspire, nurture, and comfort the human spirit in life, death, and bereavement
  • Our philosophy is to provide comfort and care, to neither hasten or prolong life and to allow a natural death.

Additional Information About Definitions

As we often use many different terms about death, dying and bereavement, please review these terms on death, dying, and bereavement to assist you: 

Anticipatory Grief

When anticipating the death of a loved one,  we begin the process of grieving long before death arrives.

For the person who is dying, grief begins the moment they learn of their end of life.  They begin to experience the profound loss of relationships and their future plans, and will miss all the things they had intended to experience.

As a caregiver, family member or friend of a loved one who is dying, the anticipation of death can be great, and can create many mixed emotions, as the death of a loved one also means a loss of the relationship as well as the loss or ending of the future as they expected it to be.

Anticipatory grief before the end of life has many of the same characteristics as those experienced after death, it can include anxiety, depression, extreme concern for the dying person, preparing for the death, and adjusting to changes caused by death.


A natural, internal experience response to loss or change of any kind including death. Grief may be experienced as a mental, physical, social, or emotional reaction and will vary in intensity. All of these types of loss bring with it the journey of grief. There is no one way to experience grief, it will look different for every person.

Mourning is the external response to grief. There is no one way to “do mourning” – it is often driven by our societal and cultural expectations and experiences of death and loss.

Bereavement is the journey of your grief and begins from the moment that you experience the loss.

Death Positive

The movement seeks to eliminate the silence around death-related topics, decrease anxiety surrounding death, and encourages more diversity in end of life care options available to the public.

Have Questions?

Check out our FAQs or contact Alexandra Allen, the Community Relations Manager at Hospice Waterloo Region: aallen@hospicewaterloo.ca.

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