Tacoma Film Festival
Tacoma, Washington / October 4-11, 2018 / tacomafilmfestival.com / V
Assembled by ace programmers and bonded together on park treks that overlook the Puget Sound area’s water and forests, the Tacoma Film Festival gives attending moviemakers a chance to escape the deafening roar of the fest circuit and retreat into quality conversations. “We allow moviemakers the space to actually talk with one another, and celebrate film with sincerity, true curiosity, and openness,” says Assistant Executive Director Wade Neal. Multiple 2018 screenings were proof of this, as post-screening Q&As were dominated by esteemed members of Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, most itching to collaborate with their comrades.
Tallgrass Film Festival
Wichita, Kansas / October 17-21, 2018 / tallgrassfilm.org / S
If you’ve got the chops to make Tallgrass’ selective cut, (roughly eight percent of films submitted to last year’s fest were accepted) your project is in for a feast of treats. This year, the Wichita festival is bumping up the total amount of cash prizes doled out by $4,000. The diverse array of honors is programmed intentionally to reflect Tallgrass’ commitment to inclusion, with awards from low-budget features lacking distribution, to female-driven documentaries.
American Film Festival
Wroclaw, Poland / October 23-28, 2018 / americanfilmfestival.pl
With no entry fee, it seems well-deserving to declare American Film Festival’s “worth it.” A refreshingly un-American way celebrate American indie cinema, AFF gave its adventurous attendees the first chance to see 2017’s Battle of the Sexes, The Disaster Artist, The Florida Project, and mother! in Central Europe. The festival’s rough-cut screenings make room for small-to-midrange moviemakers as well, and other events leverage AFF’s partnerships with the Polish Film Institute and Wroclaw Film Commission to explore co-production possibilities for foreign moviemakers.
Bydgoszcz, Poland / November 2018 / camerimage.pl/en
It’s right there in its name: Camerimage is where cinematographers must go when they die. They’re not waiting to cross the line to get there, though—in 2017, 820 DPs from 50 countries arrived as guests (Christopher Doyle, Ed Lachman, and Anthony Dod Mantle were mobbed by an international audience) to drop knowledge on eager-to-learn lensers. The number of cinematography events, panels and, workshops at Camerimage is almost unspeakably staggering, but the fest especially prides itself on its “Get Noticed” panel, which brings together talent agency reps from Europe and the U.S. to shed light on how DPs can get an agent, get the most out of their agent-artist relationship, and choose projects that will help brand themselves early in their career.
Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival
Palma de Mallorca, Spain / October 25-November 2, 2018 / evolutionfilmfestival.com
Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival is a veritable feast for the eyes—the mystic beauty of its Balearic Islands stomping grounds; its diamond-in-the-rough drive-in cinema; and its ever-popular Show Cooking, presented by local five-star chefs who prepare delicious tapas inspired by foods featured in film, are just some of the myriad living proof. Add to that an island excursion offered to every moviemaker and nightly cocktail hours, and it’s a miracle anybody at EMIFF gets anything done. But they do—thanks in no small part to the festival’s “Producers Club,” a series of panels, workshops and talks on directing, pitching, financing, and transitioning from short to feature moviemaking, among other timeless topics.
Festival Internacional De Cine De Gijón
Gijón, Spain / November 19-26, 2018 / gijonfilmfestival.com / P
Last year, Festival Internacional De Cine De Gijón in Spain launched FICX Industry Days—a four-day program of activities that set the stage for production power meetings, pitching and work-in-progress sessions, and cocktail-infused press to industry exchanges. Looking toward film’s future, the Enfants Terribles competition and film literacy program welcomes 14,000-plus scholars to 30-plus screenings. It also puts kid creatives in the middle of Q&As and workshops in their respective schools before the festival even begins, then follows up with them after it’s over.
Iris Prize Film Festival
Cardiff, Wales / October 9-14, 2018 / irisprize.org
Iris Prize Film Festival’s namesake is indeed its calling card—IPFF continues to dole out the largest LGBT short film prize (£30,000) on the planet, which has kickstarted careers since its inaugural recipient, Dee Rees, (Mudbound) reaped its benefits in 2006. IPFF’s Producers Forum runs a low-budget industry workshop day, and feature film-themed parties remind attending industry pros that their love of film doesn’t always have to be so serious.
International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
Oberhausen, Germany / May 3-8, 2018 / kurzfilmtage.de/en
Oberhausen is more of a creative laboratory than a market, and that’s by design. This German shorts central aims to bring the scattered international experimental film scene together, from New Zealand, to Sweden, to China, and everywhere in between. That doesn’t detract from the fest’s competitive nature, as approximately 42,000 euros in cash prizes are bestowed upon award-winners. But moviemakers not in the “big chair” be warned—Oberhausen’s decision to only award directors does favor the exclusivity of auteur status.
Jeonju International Film Festival
Jeonju, South Korea / May 3-12, 2018 / eng.jiff.or.kr
Twenty masterclasses and 40 specialized panels round out this distinctive South Korean fest’s industry engagement. Selected domestic and international features are funded and distributed every year under Jeonju’s name, and alumni are given the not-so-common perks of accreditation at other festivals, as well as a hand in organizing a special screening program. At once a vibrant expression of cinephilia and a means of immortalizing its featured moviemakers, Jeonju’s film poster exhibition, 100 Films 100 Posters, tasks 100 graphic designers with creating posters for 100 films from each year’s programmed pack.
Raindance Film Festival
London, UK / September 19-30, 2018 / raindance.org
From the slippery streets of Leicester Square in the heart of London’s buzzing West End, Raindance Film Festival pulls the strings of what Festival Producer David Martinez calls its international “ecosystem,” comprised of 10 headquarters in major cities across Europe, Asia, and North America. Last year, Raindance threw $100,000 worth of awards in post-production services, (sponsored by Canadian company Urban Post) and the festival’s nascent production company, Raindance Raw Talent, waited in the wings to produce films from submitted screenplays. Raindance’s active members organize monthly meet-ups and alumni—whose future work is submittable at no charge—can access free mentorship sessions from founder Elliot Grove. MM
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. Curious about past years’ lists? Read our 2017 list here, our 2016 list here, and our 2015 list here.
Illustrations by Gel Jamlang. This article appears in MovieMaker’s Spring 2018 issue.