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Best Of: 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, 2014

Best Of: 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, 2014

Festivals

SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

San Luis Obispo, CA / Spring 2015 / slofilmfest.org

This idyllic town’s community gets involved in their annual film celebration: Screenings (held in venues from cozy Downtown SLO to nearby Avila Beach and Hearst Castle) are bustling, and the festival programs a selection of films from the Central Californian Coast. ”It is a labor of love, and I think that is evident,” says artistic director Wendy Eidson.

 

TACOMA FILM FESTIVAL

Tacoma, WA / Oct. 9-16, 2014 / tacomafilmfestival.com/home

Located in scenic Tacoma, WA, TFF’s objective is to nurture moviemakers in the Pacific Northwest. To do so, they offer $500 prizes in eight different categories, including Best Short Film, Best Feature Film and Best Regional Film.

 

TALLGRASS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Wichita, KS / Oct. 15-19, 2014 / tallgrassfilmfest.com

Tallgrass’ special categories including Grasscendo (music-themed films), Greengrass (environmentally-themed films), Grassroots (featuring films about social issues) and Smallgrass (family films). Most events and parties take place at museums, galleries, and other arts venues in Wichita, KS, allowing participants a taste of local culture.

 

TAOS SHORTZ FILM FESTIVAL

Taos, NM / Spring 2015 / taosshortz.com

Located in the high desert, but centered in a walkable area of town, Taos Shortz is exactly what they advertize – “quaint, casual and intimate.” The only short film festival in a state booming with moviemaking creativity, TSFF continues to bring quality independent shorts to New Mexico.

 

TRUE/FALSE FILM FESTIVAL

Columbia, MO / Winter/Spring 2015 / truefalse.org

This documentary festival covers moviemakers’ travel and lodging, and offers a sizeable daily stipend (which, we are told, is “going up”). Hard to argue with that. We also admire the staff’s attitude: “We want to celebrate cinema in all its expansive and wild diversity and, if that celebration goes until 4 a.m. and features a party with a homemade firehouse pole, so be it.”

 

USA FILM FESTIVAL

Dallas, TX / Spring 2015 / usafilmfestival.com

Founded in ’71, the USAFF was the first festival in the U.S. to exclusively showcase “The American Filmmaker,” and ever since then they have been a virtual who’s who of the U.S. moviemaking world.  Just ask Roger Ebert, who once said about the USAFF: “They do everything right.”

 

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Vancouver, British Columbia / Winter 2015 / viff.org

As one of the largest film festivals in North America, VIFF concerns itself with building the right audience for accepted moviemakers, with an extensive target-marketing department that is focused on finding audiences for specific films. The festival offers a total of $25,000 across five prizes.

 

WATERFRONT FILM FESTIVAL

South Haven, MI / June 12-15, 2014 / waterfrontfilm.org

Held at a beachfront resort town on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, WFF styles itself as a three day vacation. This non-competitive festival attracts heavy coverage from Midwestern press, with moviemakers frequently appearing on television to promote their films.

 

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL

Cape Cod, MA / July 26-Aug. 2, 2014 / woodsholefilmfestival.org

WHFF shows alumni some loving: “We offer them discounts on workshops and master classes, fee waivers on their next entry, and participation as panelists and teachers of master classes. They can also join our year-round screenings series, for which they are paid.” MM

Fifty is a lot of festivals, but it’s still not enough! Did we overlook any really kick-ass festivals this year? Tell us about them in the comments, and who knows, they might well make the cut next time around. Also, curious about last year’s list? Check it out here.

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