LONE STAR FILM FESTIVAL
Fort Worth, TX / Nov. 9-6, 2014 / lonestarfilmfestival.com
Under Lone Star Film Festival’s B1ST program, industry biggies like Jon Reiss and Ted Hope mentor moviemakers in new models of marketing and distribution, prepping them for the next steps in finding their films’ audience. As a festival representative said, “Better is better.”
LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL
Los Angeles, CA / June 11-19, 2014 / lafilmfest.com
Now in its 20th year, LAFF is showing no sign of slowing down. The fest is famous for its signature Filmmaker Retreat, a networking event that in the past has taken place at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, and this year will take place at the famed Parker Hotel in Palm Springs.
MARTHA’S VINEYARD FILM FESTIVAL
Martha’s Vineyard, MA / Spring 2015 / tmvff.org
Sick of hustling your film day in, day out? Grab a break at MVFF, where moviemakers get beach walks, yoga classes, reflexology appointments, and even daycare. “In between movies our guests truly feel like they are on vacation,” staff said.
NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL
Nantucket, MA / June 25-30, 2014 / nantucketfilmfestival.org
Beyond its generous array of awards and prizes, NFF’s panels are especially appealing. They include an All-Star Comedy Roundtable, where board member Ben Stiller interviews comedic personalities, and the Late-Night Storytelling event, where attendees present hilarious five-minute stories to a live audience.
NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL
Napa Valley, CA / Nov. 12-16, 2014 / napavalleyfilmfest.org
Small wonder this fest is popular with attendees from nearby Hollywood: It puts on exquisitely curated dining and drinking experiences—exactly what one hopes for in California’s wine county. 2013 participant Paul Osborne says, “It’s only a matter of time before this becomes the new Sundance.”
NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FOR TALENTED YOUTH
Seattle, WA / Spring 2015 / nffty.org
If you are a young moviemaker looking to learn more about the industry, look no further than NFFTY. This Seattle festival only shows films created by filmmakers 22 and younger, placing an emphasis on educational networking—with some pretty awesome prizes to boot.
NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL
New Orleans, LA / Oct. 16-23, 2014 / neworleansfilmsociety.org/pages/detail/31/film-festival
Festival staff cite New Orleans’ eccentric atmosphere as a big draw: “We’ve hosted a filmmaker welcome soiree at an old mansion in the French Quarter, a dance party with a bouncy castle, an evening party at the Louisiana wax museum, and brunch amongst hundreds of Mardi Gras floats.” Last year’s total prize value was more than $80,000 in camera packages, film stock, cash prizes, and software.
NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL
Newport Beach, CA / Spring 2015 / newportbeachfilmfest.com
NBFF gets top marks for networking opportunities. Located within driving distance of Los Angeles, the festival hosted a large contingent of film buyers, sales agents, and both international and domestic distributors in 2013, allowing moviemakers to interact personally with the best of the business.
OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
Oxford, MS / Winter 2015 / oxfordfilmfest.com
Oxford has a legion of alumni waxing lyrical about the fest. “It was my first year attending OFF but you could have fooled me. By the end of the first night, everyone was a friend,” said one. “They pick you up and take you to the airport, put you up in a hotel, feed you every day… You can’t beat that as a (probably) deeply-in-debt filmmaker,” said another.
PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL SHORTFEST
Palm Springs, CA / January, 2015 and June 17-23, 2014 / psfilmfest.org
With major distributor presence, ample awards and prizes, and a long history of prestigious premieres, both the feature and short festivals held at Palm Springs should be on your radar. A highlight of the International Film Festival is the two-day director’s retreat for selected moviemakers. Meanwhile, many of the Shortfest’s Audience Award winners have gone on to be nominated for, and win, Academy Awards.