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.

Action On Film International Film Festival
Pasadena, CA • www.aoffest.com • Action is the name of the game at AOF—both on the screen and behind the scenes. “We have changed a number of filmmakers’ and writers’ lives by getting them deals, selling their work and assisting them with taking leaps they never thought possible,” says AOF director of operations Nick Covington. Chief among the lucky moviemakers is Mark Mahon; four years ago, his unproduced script, Freedom Within the Heart, was named Best Screenplay. Today he’s making his big-screen debut as writer-director of Strength and Honour, starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones.

Sure, the fest also offers $75,000 in cash and prizes, but also very valuable to all attending moviemakers and writers is the promise of walking away with a video interview—including film footage—to add to their electronic press kits, as well as guaranteed acceptance into the fest for future work. (It always pays to have a ready-made screening opportunity.)

Angelus Student Film Festival
Hollywood, CA • www.angelus.org • Who says morality is dead in the film industry? Targeting the younger crowd, this Hollywood-based student festival honors future moviemakers as they explore and create works “that respect the dignity of the human person.” Which means titles that reflect such themes as redemption, tolerance, spirituality and hope, as past winners Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves) and Tony Bui (Three Seasons) have discovered. With cash prizes ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, the prize money could be used to pay off some of those pesky student loans.

Ashland Independent Film Festival
Ashland, OR • www.ashlandfilm.org • Though its reputation is ultimately built on a lineup of excellent movies, a well-run film festival requires the perfect balance of organization, experience and cinema appreciation in order to be truly successful. Now in its eighth year, AIFF is an event that understands this formula. “But it isn’t one thing,” that makes this fest stand out, according to executive director Tom Olbrich, “it’s everything.”

Behind the scenes there’s full-time moviemaker liaison Laura Henneman, who has worked with six other festivals—and who continues to work with the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi when she isn’t in Oregon. On the viewer side, the area boasts an impressive­­—and intelligent—community of cineastes who fill up 95 percent of the seats at each show and who help to sell out 80 percent of the five-day event’s screenings. While Ashland itself exudes small-town charm, the fest’s past lineup of guests—Helen Hunt, Albert Maysles and Chris Eyre among them—is anything but small-time.

Austin Film Festival
Austin, TX • www.austinfilmfestival.com • It’s not any event that can catapult a moviemaker from “working the festival circuit” to “Academy Award nominee,” but as an Oscar-qualifying fest for short films, it’s a distinct possibility for a handful of Austin attendees. And short moviemakers aren’t the only ones to benefit.

Now celebrating its 16th year, the fest is a preeminent venue for screenwriters, hosting a variety of panels and running both screenplay and teleplay competitions that are awarded during the fest. As the competitions are open only to those who do not earn a living writing for film or television, it’s a level playing field. It’s also one of the industry’s most respected writing competitions, which means that production companies, agencies and managers are likely to come calling for finalists. “I met with eight producers and literary managers while in Austin, all of whom agreed to read my script,” says Michael Chase, a 2006 semifinalist. “I also had producers call me, requesting to read my work. If you are looking to break into the business, this is one festival that you do not want to miss.”

Bermuda International Film Festival
Hamilton, Bermuda • www.bermudafilmfest.com • Traveling the fest circuit is hard work, but who says you can’t mix businesss with pleasure? Launched in 1997 by founder Aideen Pryse, who still serves as fest director, BIFF is one of the only festival destinations that can truly double as real vacation. While its gorgeous surroundings would be enough to entice any moviemaker to take a chance with this festival, there’s depth behind BIFF’s beauty, including its status as an Oscar-qualifying fest for shots and cash prizes for winners in the Narrative Feature ($5,000), Short Film ($3,000) and Audience Choice ($3,000) categories.

Box[ur]shorts Film Festival
Various Locations •www.boxurshorts.com
What began as an experiment in moviegoing in 2005—a simple box was equipped with an LCD screen and sound system—has turned into a film festival revolution. The idea is simple: Bring the movies to the people—not the people to the movies.
With a rolling submission policy and four annual programs, accepted projects will screen 10 or more times a day for a three-month period in locations around the world, from Los Angeles to Park City and New York to Hiroshima—as well as on the Website. Best of all, what makes [box]ur particularly worth the entry fee is that there is none—though there are $7,000 worth of prizes from big-name sponsors like Fuji, Avid, Showbiz Software, Red Bull and Write Brothers.

Calgary International Film Festival
Calgary, Alberta • www.calgaryfilm.com • In the last eight years, CIFF has seen an increase in attendance of more than 400 percent. With more than 1,000 submissions received each year for consideration, competition to get in can be fierce. But once you’re in, acceptance has its privileges—especially for those moviemakers who like to produce pictures “outside of the box.” This year, in association with American Express, CIFF will offer a $25,000 cash prize to the winner of its newly created Movie Mavericks competition. This competition looks for narrative films that showcase fierce independence and exemplify directorial voice and an individual signature. A prize like that could go a long way toward cred—and equipment—for your next feature. “Movie Mavericks will have a real and significant impact on CIFF and the city of Calgary,” says executive director Jacqueline Dupuis. “It will allow us to differentiate the festival from other film festivals around the globe, attract industry professionals to CIFF and create international awareness and caché for Calgary.”

Dark Carnival Film Festival
Bloomington, IN • www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com • Though most fests are all about moving pictures, other events pay special tribute to the written word. Dark Carnival is such a fest. Organizers of this festival understand the many obstacles between writing a script and seeing the finished product on the big screen; the brand-new short screenplay contest takes the guesswork out of this process for one moviemaker. The chosen scribe will not only have his or her short script produced by DCFF, but will premiere the completed film at the 2010 event. “The Dark Carnival Film Festival continually strives to be a filmmaker-centric event,” says festival director David Pruett. “This is something which, in our experience, makes us unique among indie horror/fantasy film fests.”

DC Shorts Film Festival
Washington, DC • www.dcshorts.com • DC Shorts cares deeply about its moviemakers and the festival’s organizers try to show this in every possible way. “As in years past, DC Shorts evaluates all films and scripts—and provides detailed feedback to the filmmakers,” says festival director Jon Gann. And they’re expanding the screenplay competition for 2009, which means added value for interested scribes. “All entrants will receive a discounted fee for ScriptDC, a regional screenwriting conference which will incorporate live readings from the DC Shorts Screenplay finalists,” according to Gann, as well as “seminars for writers of every level and a day of pitching and critique sessions with industry professionals.” If that weren’t enough, the fest will move the winning script from paper to celluloid, awarding $2,000 to shoot the project and a guaranteed screening at the festival’s 2010 event.

Doorpost Film Project
Nashville, TN • www.thedoorpost.com • If you’re a moviemaker looking to boost your recognizability, travel for free and thicken your wallet, look no further than the Doorpost Film Project. This unique, not-for-profit film project asks that the submitted films be under seven minutes in length and fit into one of five categories: Forgiveness, Freedom, Humility, Joy or Redemption. If your short film is chosen as one of the contest’s 10 finalists, you will be commissioned by Doorpost to make another short—and have a shot at winning the $100,000 grand prize. (That’s right, $100,000.)

Elevate Film Festival
Los Angeles, CA • www.elevateexperience.com • An amalgam of cinema, technology, competition and philanthropy—with a hint of new age spirituality in the form of advanced sound and energy healing modalities—EFF is an event seemingly fit for George Lucas. But you needn’t be movie royalty to enjoy this seven-day moviemaking sprint that merges cutting-edge science with movies, music and new media. Entrants are given a theme around which to create socially-conscious work. Completed shorts are then screened at a one-night, star-studded Los Angeles extravaganza (featuring aforementioned healing modalities).

L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival
Los Angeles, CA • www.lacomedyshorts.com • A festival “created by funny people for funny people, which aims to see that comedic films and scripts get their due,” according to festival director Jeannie Roshar, LACSFF is a four-day, nonstop celebration of hilarity in downtown Los Angeles. At this year’s fest, moviemakers and screenwriters competed for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, with the winners scoring in-person meetings with five of Hollywood’s biggest comedy companies (including development execs from Atom.com, talent managers from Generate and producers from BenderSpink). Roshar isn’t kidding when she says the fest is “all about creating opportunities for comedy filmmakers and comedy screenwriters.” In order to give the Best-of-Fest winning director an added push, the fest provides a production package of cash and prizes worth more than $30,000.

Mammoth Film Festival
Mammoth Lakes, CA • www.mammothfilmfestival.com • If you’ve ever longed to be on “American Idol for Moviemakers,” here’s your chance. A young festival rapidly growing in recognition and praise, MFF hosts a unique, elimination-style movie tournament where the audience chooses the winner. In 2007, its first year, the audience chose especially wisely by selecting Jon Dunham’s Spirit of the Marathon as its winner; the film went on to gross $1 million theatrically in just two nights. With the event set in Mammoth Lakes, an hour flight from L.A., and home to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, it’s also a chance for Hollywood types to get away from it all—if only for the day.

Marfa Film Festival
Marfa, TX • www.marfafilmfestival.org • The film industry has found a home in Marfa, Texas. First, it became ground zero for the productions of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Then came the MFF, a festival with the sole purpose of putting the moviemaker first. “Marfa is a destination for filmmakers to share their work with a captive and appreciative audience,” says festival director Robin Lambaria. “We screen each film one at a time, which avoids screening conflicts, so each filmmaker has the unique opportunity to present their work with the full attention of festival attendees.”

Though the fest is only in its second year, it’s already gathering high praise from its attendees. “Festivals are like wine or cheese, which get better every year,” says director Tao Ruspoli (Fix). “I look forward to seeing the festival grow and evolve.”

Myrtle Beach International Film Festival
Myrtle Beach, SC • www.myrtlebeachfilmfestival.com • “We are a truly independent film festival,” says MBIFF founder Jerry Dalton. “We grade on a curve, so we level the playing field for small-budget projects to compete against larger budget projects.” By teaming his Dalton Pictures & Entertainment Company up with Carmike Cinemas, submitted films have the opportunity to be distributed in theaters across the country—which happened to seven of last year’s movies, including one that was made on a budget of just $3,000. If that weren’t enough, each moviemaker receives a gross percentage of the ticket sales—helping to recoup some of that production investment and get ready for the next project.

Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival
Napa and Sonoma Valleys, CA • www.winecountryfilmfest.com • In foodspeak, “terroir” is the word that describes what gives a particular wine its unique quality. In the world of the NSWCFF, it means the thing that moves an artist to make his or her cinema. “Filmmakers are like dirt,” says executive director Justine Ashton. “Their unique attributes, tastes and cultural distinctions produce films that arise from their roots, and we the viewers get to ‘taste’ their creations.”

“Taste” is certainly an appropriate word, as the fest is a celebration of cinema, food and wine. Taking full advantage of its desired location, the lineup of more than 100 films—many of which have not been shows at other fests—are screened under the stars, as well as inside wineries and caves—all complemented by locally-grown produce and award-winning wines.

Ottawa International Animation Film Festival
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • www.ottawa.awn.com • There is not an abundance of animation fests on the circuit, but perhaps that’s because no one wants to compete against OIAF. As North America’s largest animation festival, with close to 25,000 annual attendees, the fest is the perfect venue for aspiring animators. “First off, the festival has no entry fee,” says managing director Kelly Neall of the many reasons to enter. Add to that a free hotel room, $75 artist fee paid to the directors of all screened movies and the chance to “mix and mingle with legendary animators from around the world,” and you’ve got a pretty exciting event. But whether you’re an animation legend or not, “You get treated like a VIP because there are no Brad Pitts in the animation world,” says Neall.

Oxford International Film Festival
West Chester, OH • www.oxfordfilms.com • Oxford was nicknamed “Sundance without snow” by The Cincinnati Enquirer, but it might be more accurate to call Sundance “Oxford without the distribution deals.” Through agreements with attending independent distributors, every accepted film will be offered a distribution deal in 2009. Though only a toddler, Oxford has already propelled films to national distribution and/or production deals with companies like Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Netflix and THINKFilm (a pretty distinguished pedigree). And if promised distribution for your movie isn’t enticement enough… you’re reading the wrong magazine.

Palm Springs international Shortfest
Palm Springs, CA • www.psfilmfest.org • Like it or not, the ultimate goal of any moviemaker working the festival circuit is to sell his or her project. While many fests promise that a handful of distributors and other acquisitions executives will be among the masses at their events, sometimes it’s best to stack the odds in your favor. So why not make it easier for distribution partners to find you—and your film—by placing it in a film market? Now in its 15th year, PSISF is the largest short film festival and market in North America. All movies submitted to the festival are eligible for free inclusion in the film market and made available for viewing to all attending film buyers, industry pros and members of the press.

Poppy Jasper Film Festival
Morgan Hill, CA • www.poppyjasperfilmfest.org • Like freshmen in high school, short films can easily get bullied around. Not so at PJFF, a short film event that sees shorts as more than “calling card” films and whose bouncers stop movies longer than 30 minutes at the door. Serving as an accoutrement to the screenings, panels and parties is a newly-established short film script competition that awards a phone consultation with an award-winning screenwriter to the winner.

Red Rock Film Festival
Springdale, UT • www.ophilia.com • Recession or not, getting anything of value for under $20 nowadays is hard to pass up. As long as you meet RRFF’s late deadline (there’s a more expensive, extended deadline through Withoutabox.com), that’s precisely the situation in which you’ll find yourself: Entry fees for the four-day, mid-November festival go no higher than $15. And, whether your movie’s accepted or not, the fee secures you two VIP tickets to one of the festival’s screenings—and an excuse to enjoy the brilliant scenery of Zion National Park.

Screamfest Horror Film Festival
Los Angeles, CA • www.screamfestla.com
A launching pad for burgeoning directors and screenwriters, Screamfest is dedicated to celebrating the often neglected and underappreciated horror genre. Formed in 2001, Screamfest is one of the leading festivals of its kind and many of the movies—and moviemakers—showcased here have found distribution, like Victor Garcia (Return to House on Haunted Hill), Stewart Hopewell (Slaughter) and Toby Wilkins (Splinter). The fest doesn’t skimp on prizes either, with as much as $10,000 presented to past award-winners.

Silver Spring, MD • www.silverdocs.com • This world-famous festival, a collaboration between AFI and the Discovery Channel, is the ultimate proving ground for documentarians. If you don’t believe it, just ask the Academy, as they have nominated 14 SILVERDOCS films for Oscars, including this year’s Best Documentary, Short Subject winner, Smile Pinki. If the prospect of being nominated for the film industry’s most prestigious honor isn’t quite enough for you, the festival awards more than $80,000 in cash and prizes and is constantly filled with guest celebrities such as Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme.

Syracuse International Film Festival
Syracuse, NY • www.syrfilmfest.com • The “International” in this fest’s name is there for a reason: More than 80 percent of the event is composed of new, independent international films. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for your American movie, just that you’ll get to mingle, network and (hopefully one day) collaborate with moviemakers from all over the globe. Essentially, it’s a recession-approved way to jetset—in central New York state. As festival operations manager Dan Campis puts it, “We have a United Nations of film!”

Whistler Film Festival
Whistler, BC, Canada • www.whistlerfilmfestival.com • Any festival that attracts more than 7,500 people to the frosty reaches of Canada in December has to be considered a viable outlet for your movie. Throw in more than $40,000 in prizes, the Whistler Filmmaker Forum, a smorgasbord of panels, pitches and prime networking opportunities running concurrently with the fest (not to mention the choice skiing afforded by premier ski resort Whistler Blackcomb) and WFF emerges as a great excuse to finally buy those snowshoes you’ve been eying. MM

MovieMaker.com Bonus: For a full list of Oscar-qualifying fests, visit moviemaker.com/oscar.

Action on Film International Film Festival www.aoffest.com • A seven-day event featuring the top comedy, drama, action, animation and documentary works from independent moviemakers .

AFI Dallas International Film Festivalwww.afidallas.com • Screens more than 150 contemporary international features, documentaries, animations, shorts, student films and the best films made in the Lone Star State.

Angelus Student Film Festivalwww.angelus.org • Honors student moviemakers who create works that respect the dignity of the human person.

Ann Arbor Film Festival www.aafilmfest.org
Founded in 1963, AAFF is the longest-running showcase of independent, experimental and artistically-inspired films in North America.

Appalachian Film Festivalwww.appyfilmfest.com • A fest for moviemakers in the Appalachian region, including West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Austin Film Festivalwww.austinfilmfestival.com • Draws a large industry crowd of screenwriters, agents, managers, distributors and moviemakers for a laidback event in the city of Austin.

Bare Bones International Film Festival www.barebonesfilmfestivals.org • A small-town festival that celebrates indie auteurs, directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers in a big way. Offers quality screening venues for movies plus music, seminars and a red carpet photo walk awards ceremony. Muskogee, Oklahoma is a festival vacation destination for friendly, multicultural, historical experiences—with or without a film.

BendFilm Festivalwww.bendfilm.org • Set against the backdrop of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, BendFilm awards more than $30,000 in cash prizes including a $10,000 Best of Show Award.

Big Apple Film Festival www.bigapplefilmfestival.com • Showcases, promotes and honors movies and moviemakers from NYC’s independent film community.

Big Bear Lake International Film Festival & Screenwriting Competitionwww.bigbearlakefilmfestival.com • Offers independent features, shorts, student films, high school films, animation, documentaries, family films and a screenwriting competition.

Big Island Film Festival www.bigislandfilmfestival.com • One indoor and two venues under the stars, great weather and beautiful beaches make this a unique film festival location.

Black Maria Film + Video Festivalwww.blackmariafilmfestival.org • Committed to works that explore the potential of the motion picture medium to illuminate, provoke, enrich and engage viewers.

Broad Humor Film Festivalwww.broadhumor.com • The Broad Humor Film Festival (June 12-14, 2009) spotlights the work of women writing and directing comedy. Documentary and narrative films are welcome, as well as unproduced screenplays, so long as all writers and directors are female and humor is an important part of the story.

Calgary International Film Festival www.calgaryfilm.com • An international celebration of cultural diversity and independent thought, CIFF is also home to the Mavericks competition for emerging filmmakers, which has a prize of $25,000.

California Independent Film Fest www.caindiefilmfest.org • CIFF’s organizers believe a festival can contribute to a healthier society and so encourage the active involvement of audiences to connect and act collectively to address social challenges.

CineSol Film Festivalwww.cinesol.comwww.myspace.com/cinesol • CineSol Film Festival has been the premier film festival of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas since 1993. The fest is currently accepting films for its September 2009 event.

Coney Island Film Festivalwww.coneyislandfilmfestival.com • Fosters a relaxed atmosphere, where first-time moviemakers and industry veterans alike can gather to enjoy a jam-packed weekend of great films and experience Coney Island’s characteristic blend of grit and whimsy.

Crossroads Film Festivalwww.crossroadsfilmfest.com • Celebrates the art of moviemaking in all of its diversity and depth, with a special focus on projects related to Mississippi and the South.

Cucalorus Film Festivalwww.cucalorus.org • Having screened more than 200 award-winning films from all over the world, Cucalorus maintains a rebel style, mirroring the world of independent and underground moviemaking.

DC Shorts Film Festivalwww.dcshorts.com • Turns the spotlight on truly independent shorts, created by new and established moviemakers in an era where the art of moviemaking is open to all.

Eerie Horror Film Festivalwww.eeriehorrorfestival.com • An internationally recognized, competition-based event that takes place each year in Erie, Pennsylvania. Focusing on the horror, science-fiction and suspense genres, the four-day festival features film screenings, celebrity guests, vendors and workshops. Awards and prizes are presented to the best films and screenplays each season, with special awards for young filmmakers and screenwriters ages 10 – 17. Call for entries opens on Halloween day each year and remains active until August.

Fantastic Festwww.fantasticfest.com • A week-long festival featuring the best in new science-fiction, fantasy, horror, animation, crime and Asian cinema.

FirstGlance Filmswww.firstglancefilms.com • Presenting two annual events, one in Philadelphia and one in Hollywood, FirstGlance screens award-winning films to audiences and offers moviemakers online and retail distribution opportunities along with more than $50,000 in prizes annually.

Flatland Film Festivalwww.flatlandfilmfestival.com • FFF’s shorts competition offers more than $3,500 in cash prizes for live action, documentary, animated and experimental works.

Florida Film Festivalwww.floridafilmfestival.com • A 10-day event featuring an American independent competition, international showcase, midnight movies, spotlight films, tributes, special screenings, special guests, panels, parties and gorgeous weather.

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festivalwww.fliff.com • The world’s longest film festival screens more than 200 films and features panels, parties, cruises and a bevy of special events and guests.

The 48 Hour Film Projectwww.48hourfilm.com • Every second counts at the 48 Hour Film Project, sponsored by Panasonic, where moviemakers have just two days to write, plan, shoot and edit a movie.

Haydenfilms Online Film Festivalwww.haydenfilms.com • The first online festival to accept all short films, regardless of genre, and the first to offer a $10,000 grand prize.

Indie Memphis Film Festival www.indiememphis.com • Utilizes Memphis’ rich cultural landscape to showcase films celebrating Southern stories and storytelling in the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Indie Short Film Competition www.indieshortfilms.net • An innovative online short film competition offering indie moviemakers the chance to advance their careers, gain recognition in the industry and receive international exposure.

International Family Film Festivalwww.iffilmfest.org • Hollywood-based IFFF’s slogan for 2009 says it all: “Great stories bring families together.”

International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival • www.horrorscifi.com • A genre fest that awards films in such innovative categories as Best Splatter, Goriest Film, Coolest Effects, Best Slasher and Creature Features.

L.A. Comedy Shortswww.lacomedyshorts.com • A four-day, nonstop celebration of comedic short films including screenings, industry panels and a red carpet awards event.

Magnolia Independent Film Festivalwww.magfilmfest.com • Starkville, Mississippi’s “The Mag” welcomes movies in all genres and lengths.

Milwaukee International Film Festivalwww.milwaukeefilmfest.org • Showcases an international lineup of films while promoting and developing Milwaukee as an independent moviemaking center of the Midwest.

Moondance International Film Festivalwww.moondancefilmfestival.com • Offers all artists a unique opportunity to come together with other writers, directors, producers and audiences to create new opportunities, develop tools for success and forge new alliances.

Myrtle Beach International Film Festivalwww.myrtlebeachfilmfestival.com • MBIFF doesn’t judge on content—only quality. The fest maintains different categories based on budget, so a film with a $10,000 budget doesn’t compete against a $10 million movie.

New Hampshire Film Festivalwww.nhfilmfestival.com • More than just a place to watch movies, NHFF educates attendees on all aspects of moviemaking—from writing to promotion.

Oxford Film Festivalwww.oxfordfilmfest.com • Brings moviemakers and moviegoers together to enjoy four days of workshops, panels and parties.

Palm Springs International ShortFestwww.psfilmfest.org • Known worldwide for the community of moviemakers it attracts, PSISF showcases more than 320 short films each year.

Poppy Jasper Film Festivalwww.poppyjasperfilmfest.org • Taking its name from a local gemstone, PJFF mines the fast-growing niche of less-than-30-minute films.

Red Rock Film Festivalwww.redrockfilmfestival.com • Held beneath the red rocks of Zion National Park, RRFF features programming that both challenges and educates the mind.

Rome International Film Festivalwww.riff.tv • This Georgia fest screens more than 100 films each year, including documentary, narrative, experimental and animation shorts and features.

San Diego Film Festival www.sdff.org • Co-founded by an award-winning moviemaker, SDFF features four days of 100 films, industry panels and inviting audiences.

Screamfest Horror Film Festival www.screamfestla.com • Presents talented genre moviemakers and writers from around the world to the entertainment industry with the mission of furthering their careers.

Sedona International Film Festival www.sedonafilmfestival.com • The six-day festival features more than 125 films, including features, documentaries, shorts and animation.

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival www.sidewalkfest.com • Since its debut in 1999, moviemakers from around the world have come to Birmingham, Alabama and discovered fresh, enthusiastic crowds eager to devour new independent cinema.

SILVERDOCSwww.silverdocs.com • A joint effort between the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, SILVERDOCS furthers the impact of documentary film.

Starz Denver Film Festivalwww.denverfilm.org/festival • Presents 175 films over 11 days and hosts more than 150 visiting moviemakers.

Stony Brook Film Festivalwww.stonybrookfilmfestival.com • With one of the largest screens on the circuit and audiences of 1,000 people, SBFF brings 15,000 moviegoers to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center each year.

Sunscreen Film Festivalwww.sunscreenfilmfestival.com • Founded in 2005, SFF was created by Tony Armer and Derek Miner, two moviemakers who decided to put on an event for struggling moviemakers like themselves.

Syracuse International Film Festivalwww.syrfilmfest.com • A competitive, internationally recognized festival that brings the international film community to Syracuse, New York.

Trail Dance Film Festivalwww.traildancefilmfestival.com • A showcase of independent and underground short cinema from around the world, films range in style and genre, with the only theme being a running time of 10 minutes or less.

Whistler Film Festivalwww.whistlerfilmfestival.com • Supports artistic innovation, profiles new technologies and provides an enriching cultural experience for local, national and international audiences.

Woods Hole Film Festivalwww.woodsholefilmfestival.org • Emphasizes the work of emerging moviemakers and offers workshops, special events, moviemaker-in-residence opportunities and more.

WorldFest Houstonwww.worldfest.org • Gave first honors to Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Ridley Scott, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, Brian De Palma and hundreds more. MM