50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2017

50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2017


International Festivals

American Film Festival (Wroclaw, Poland)

Wrocław, Poland / October 24-29, 2017 / americanfilmfestival.pl

For a festival whose submissions are completely free, the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland doesn’t exactly get inundated in entries—so what are you waiting for? The festival is the only event in Central Europe dedicated to American independent film, and is designed to be an avenue toward both European distribution and co-production. Its two-day workshop for feature masterpieces in the making, U.S. in Progress, showcases up to six titles to European buyers and post-production houses.


Black Nights Film Festival

Tallinn, Estonia / November 17 – December 3, 2017 / poff.ee / S, V, P

Kelly Fremon Craig’s crowd-pleasing The Edge of Seventeen screened at Black Nights Film Festival 2016. Courtesy of STX Entertainment

This Estonian festival is more of a “film market” than our other international picks, with its annual Industry@Tallinn summit: Expect works-in-progress showcases, co-production meetings, a talent lab and panels on how to enter the Russian and Baltic regional markets. This year, a new Storytek Creative Hub explores digital marketing, financing, production and sales in the global industry. Some of the high-caliber American titles to screen last year were Hell or High Water and The Edge of Seventeen.


International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg

Mannheim and Heidelberg, Germany / November 9-19, 2017 / iffmh.de

IFFMH has an unusual newcomer-only policy for its line-up. Courtesy of International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg

Though it’s the second oldest film festival in Germany, this stately affair in the country’s Baden-Württemberg state is a self-proclaimed “newcomer festival,” a platform for up-and-coming voices (many of whom don’t remain unknown for very long—hi, Jim Jarmusch and Atom Egoyan). Its annual Mannheim Meeting Place forum is designed for first- or second-time producers interested in international co-production. Producers lucky enough to be selected receive intensive mentorship from veterans of the industry.


Iris Prize Film Festival

Cardiff, Wales / October 10-15, 2017 / irisprize.org / P

Class photo from Iris Prize Festival 2016. Photograph by Jon Pountney

Eight shorts have been produced to date under the auspices of the Iris Prize (i.e. the £30,000, or US$36,600, cash prize given to the festival’s Best Short Film winner, enabling his or her next short)—two of which were selected for Sundance. This LGBT festival is an Academy- and BAFTA-qualifier; beyond screenings, it holds a low-budget producing forum, youth filmmaking conference and education day, as well as daily brunches, cocktail receptions and themed parties.


Oaxaca FilmFest

Oaxaca, Mexico / October 6-13, 2017/ oaxacafilmfest.com / S, P

Filmmakers visit the Monte Albán ruins at Oaxaca FilmFest 2016. Photograph by Douglas Favero

The rise of Oaxaca FilmFest, now 8 years old and one of Mexico’s premier indie destinations, has been impressive. Competition to get in is stiff, but the payoff is considerable: The festival treats each film royally, offering every feature its own dedicated press conference. The three-day New Industry program offers directors and screenwriters workshops with distinguished reps, while the recently added Young Industry program does likewise for students. Bonus: On your day off, take in the nearby ruins of Monte Albán. MM

Illustrations by Kate Prior.

Fifty is not enough! As always, we had to leave out dozens of wonderful festivals this year. Feel free to give us an earful in the comments. This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Spring 2017 issue. Curious about past years’ lists? Read our 2016 list here and our 2015 list here.

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