Every moviemaker has dreams of his or her film landing at Sundance or Cannes and instantly acquiring the enduring acclaim that fests of that caché can offer. There’s nothing wrong with striving for those rarified venues, but moviemakers need not get their celluoid in a bunch if it doesn’t happen, because now more than ever there are excellent alternatives—festivals that go the extra mile to make certain that a moviemaker’s efforts are well-compensated.
Whether the payoff comes in the form of a generous cash prize, the opportunity to hobknob with an industry titan, or just a fattening of one’s press kit and crew Rolodex, the festivals that are worth your fee and your time can make all the difference in your burgeoning career.
Now more than ever, with our country deep in a recession, coughing up the entry fees for a number of film festivals can be an unfeasible expense, so moviemakers need to choose wisely and target those fests that can offer a potential return on their investment.
But how can you choose where to submit? You already know many of the larger names, so to find worthy alternatives we searched the country (and our good neighbor to the north) to bring you a list of 25 of the finest, though perhaps lesser-known, festivals that are very much worth the fee. And maybe because of the recession, this year we paid special attention to festivals that emphasize shorts.
Here, then, in alphabetical order, is MM‘s 2009 list of 25 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee:
• Action on Film International Film Festival
• Angelus Student Film Festival
• Ashland Independent Film Festival
• Austin Film Festival
• Bermuda International Film Festival
• Boxur Shorts Film Festival
• Calgary International Film Festival
• Dark Carnival Film Festival
• DC Shorts Film Festival
• Doorpost Film Project
• Elevate Film Festival
• L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival
• Mammoth Film Festival
• Marfa Film Festival
• Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
• Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival
• Ottawa International Animation Film Festival
• Oxford International Film Festival
• Palm Springs Shortfest
• Poppy Jasper Film Festival
• Red Rock Film Festival
• Screamfest Horror Film Festival
• Syracuse International Film Festival
• Whistler Film Festival
The Spring 2009 edition of MovieMaker Magazine can be purchased on newsstands everywhere. Single copies can be purchased for $5.95 online at MovieMaker.com/magazine/backissues/spring_2009 or sign up for a full year of MovieMaker at our special introductory price of just $6.00 (practically the cost of a single issue) at MovieMaker.com/subscribe/best_fests_2009.