(The following introduction opens the full article in the Fall 2013 issue.)
What makes a film festival the Coolest? Is it a combination of quality cinema, great parties, and free swag? Or is it an alluring mix of hip, alternative venues and shoestring-budget, hyper-indie films you might not get to see anywhere else? What about the opportunity to gawk at celebrities, connect with fellow moviemakers, and take advantage of free travel perks? These are just some of the many factors we pondered before we could even begin to quantify the coolest film festivals on the planet this year. On top of all that, the MovieMaker team couldn’t possibly attend all the festivals in the Los Angeles area, much less the world—the territory this list’s title so ambitiously encompasses. So we decided to solicit a little help from our friends.
It dawned on us that the best way to create this list was to ask our readers to offer up their experience and opinions. After all, we know the collective MovieMaker readership has the goods on almost every festival out there. So instead of choosing 25 festivals ourselves as we’ve done in the past, we asked our readers to nominate and vote for what they see as the coolest. We also broke our list down into categories to reflect the increasing diversity on today’s festival circuit. While still naming 25 coolest “General” Festivals—all-encompassing fests that don’t discern their selections by genre—we also named the five coolest fests in 10 new genre-specific categories. Running the gamut from “Horror/Sci-Fi” to “Documentary” and “Shorts” and the smorgasbord that became the “Other” category (including animation fests, sports fests, 3D fests, you name it), just about every conceivable kind of festival is represented. Over four months, we received more than 15,000 votes and enlisted the help of Hone, a visual survey platform that simplified our crowd-sourcing efforts (check them out at gohone.com). It’s important to note that the following 76 festivals are presented without any particular hierarchy or order—if you made it in, you made it in!
See the first category winners (Documentary and Horror/Sci-Fi Festivals) here, the second (Short Film and Comedy Festivals) here, and the third (Environmental/Social Cause /Women’s Film Festivals) here.
Top Five Coolest LGBT Film Festivals (Full list of nominees here)
San Francisco, CA / June 19-29, 2014
Frameline has a Voices app for your phone. Now you can watch your favorite LGBT films anywhere!
Mumbai, India / Late May 2014
“Kashish” means attraction or allurement in Urdu—a word we’d like to incorporate into our vocabulary.
Durham, NC / Early to Mid-July 2014
NCGLFF has our vote for best tagline: “Bigger, Longer, and More Satisfying.”
Los Angeles, CA / Mid-July 2014
Don Cheadle and America Ferrera were just two of many celebrities at 2013’s Outfest.
Minneapolis, MN / June 4-8, 2014
Now that gay marriage is legal in Minnesota, the fest is celebrating marriage equality by asking people to submit their proposal videos and screening them at next year’s festival. Aw!
Top Five Coolest Ethnic/National Film Festivals (Full list of nominees here)
Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco / October and November 2013
Last year’s fest screened such titles as Death for Sale, Farewell Exile, and The Virgin, the Copts, and Me.
Los Angeles, CA / May 1-11, 2014
This festival offers a snapshot of the national cinemas of countries like China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many more.
Los Angeles, CA / November 1-30, 2013
The festival theme, “Red is Green,” serves to expand the boundaries of how American Indians have typically been defined in our culture. Color us intrigued.
Various cities throughout Australia / July to August 2014
This festival is one of the oldest, largest and most respected Russian film festivals outside of Russia.
Singapore / 2014
2012′s SIFF theme was “Future Visions,” and the fest showcased classic science fiction movies.
Sincerest thanks from the MovieMaker team to everyone who participated in the compilation of this list. To the runners up that didn’t make the final five in each category, we send our condolences, and thank you for your voting. There’s always next year. Glad to see your favorite film festival on this year’s list? Think you have a cooler festival than these up your sleeve? Tweet at @moviemakermag, tag us on Facebook (MovieMaker Magazine) or leave a comment! MM
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