The Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2013: Top 25 General Film Festival Winners
by MM Editors

This week we’re announcing our 2013 Coolest Film Festivals in the World results, voted by YOU, two categories per day – leading up to the Top 25 General Festival winners on Friday, 11/15! Today we are announcing our final category – the Top 25 Coolest General Festivals of 2013. For the full article and list of results, pick up a copy of our Fall 2013 issue, hitting stands any day now!


(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 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, the third (Environmental/Social Cause and Women’s Film Festivals) here, the fourth (LGBT and Ethnic/National Film Festivals) here, and the fifth (Experimental/Underground and Out of the Box) here.

Top 25 General Film Festivals (Full list of nominees pt 1, pt 2, pt 3)



Ashland Independent Film Festival

Ashland, OR / April 3-7, 2014

There’s a reason they call springtime in Southern Oregon “a dream you’ll never want to leave.”


Austin Film Festival

Austin, TX / October 24-31, 2013

AFF is one of the reasons why the city of Austin was MM’s Top City to Be a Moviemaker in 2013.



Beaufort International Film Festival

Beaufort, SC / February 12-16, 2014

Beaufort has served as the backdrop for more than 20 major motion pictures, including Forrest Gump.




Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Palatine, IL / Late July 2014

The Blue Whiskey Cinema Series offers beer, 50-cent wings, and a great independent film every first Wednesday of the month. Oh, and their festival is pretty cool, too.




Charleston International Film Festival

Charleston, SC / April 9-13, 2014

CIFF’s tag line is “five days of fun and film.” Cinema and alliteration at their best.




Coney Island Film Festival

Coney Island, NY / Late September 2014

You know you’ve wanted to go to Coney Island since you were a kid. Why not catch a film festival while you’re there?


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Wilmington, NC / November 13-17, 2013

Not only is this festival cool in virtually every way, it has a horrifyingly cute monster mascot named Izzie. Seriously, check out their website.




Dances with Films

Los Angeles, CA / May 29-June 8, 2014

The name Dances with Films was a play on the plethora of “-dance” film festivals that cropped up left and right in the ’90s—Slamdance, Digidance, Nodance, TromaDance.




Florida Film Festival

Maitland, FL / Early to Mid-April 2014

Previous celebrity guests have included Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride. We can only hope that future FFFs will be “as you wish.”




Flyway Film Festival

Pepin & Stockholm, WI / October 17-20, 2013

Flyway’s opening night awards ceremony bequeaths talented recipients with the Flyway Ax, a stone sculpture designed by nationally recognized local artist David Culver.


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Indie Grits

Columbia, SC / Mid-April 2014

Repeat finalist alert! Indie Grits made our 20 Coolest Festivals list back in 2010.




Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

Dubuque, IA / April 24-27, 2014

Known as the “Masterpiece on the Mississippi,” Dubuque is the perfect place to take in movies and sights.


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Lewiston Auburn Film Festival

Lewiston and Auburn, ME / April 4-6, 2014

Just as Lewiston and Auburn share a film festival, we hear the cities may merge into one super city in the coming years.




Long Island International Film Expo

Bellmore, NY / July 9-14, 2014

Steve Buscemi, Billy Baldwin, and Edward Burns have attended past closing night awards ceremonies.




Macon Film Festival

Macon, GA / February 27-March 2, 2014

Thanks to the efforts of the Macon Film Commission, Macon has been seen on the big screen recently in Trouble with the Curve, 42, and Fast & Furious 5.




Manhattan Film Festival

New York, NY / Late June 2014

Manhattan Film Festival boasts a Filmmaker Revenue Sharing Program, generating thousands of dollars for independent filmmakers.




Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival

Portland, OR / November 8-17, 2013

After the festival, the event lives on in the form of the “Best of the Northwest” touring program, presented at key cultural and educational organizations across the Northwest.




Orlando Film Festival

Orlando, FL / October 16-20, 2013

With the slogan “This is independent film for everyone,” Orlando opens its doors to moviemakers and movie lovers of all ages.




Phoenix Film Festival

Phoenix, AZ / April 3-10, 2014

Accompanying events and parties, like Kids’ Day, Industry Night, and Phoenix Comicon, ensure a good time.




San Francisco International Film Festival

San Francisco, CA / Late April-Early May 2014

As one of the longest-running film festivals in the Americas, the organizers of the San Francisco International Film Festival know what they’re doing.




Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

Santa Fe, NM / October 16-20, 2013

Previous guests of honor have included as unlikely a pairing as Wes Studi and Judy Blume.




Tallgrass Film Festival

Wichita, KS / October 16-20, 2013

Tallgrass Film Association: “stubbornly independent since 2003.”



Traverse City Film Festival

Traverse City, MI / Late July to Early August 2014

Traverse City presents classic movies free of charge on a giant, inflatable outdoor screen overlooking Grand Traverse Bay in the Open Space Park at dusk.



Tribeca International Film Festival

New York, NY/ April 16-27, 2014

Moviemakers can now compete at Tribeca with films they shot on Vine. Talk about a short story!



Twin Cities Film Fest

St. Louis Park, MN / October 17-26, 2013

TCFF hosted comedic actor Justin Long at its closing festivities in 2012. 


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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2 Responses to “The Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2013: Top 25 General Film Festival Winners
by MM Editors

  1. MovieMaker Magazine

    ENR and Marian – The Coolest Fest list was nominated and voted on entirely by readers this year, and it appears that our U.S. readers were the most active in that regard (we’re trying to reach more international readers with the digital edition of the magazine, promise!). You’ll note, though, that in the other 10 categories of Coolest Fest (other than the General category in this post), foreign festivals made the list, including six festivals from Australia.

  2. ENR

    Eh hum, didn’t know the world was made up of only the US…

  3. Marian

    Surely you mean the coolest festivals in the United States?

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