25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee: 2012

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New Orleans Film Festival

New Orleans, LA; NewOrleansFilmSociety.org

NOLA’s growing reputation as a production hotspot is reflected in its revered film fest, too, which picks up the hotel and transport tabs for its moviemakers. But it’s the prize packages where the entry fee really pays off; awards are given in eight competitive categories, with past prizes ranging from $2,500 in Kodak film stock to $10,000 Panavision camera packages.

New York International Latino Film Festival

New York, NY; NYLatinoFilm.com

Presented by HBO, NYILFF showcases films by, for and about the Latino community. With more than 25,000 annual attendees, the fest has become a major marketplace for Latino films; in the past few years, more than 20 films have been acquired by major distributors at the event.

NYC PictureStart Film Festival

New York, NY; PictureStartFilmFestival.com

Red carpet events are great, but there’s something to be said for chatting about movies in a much more casual setting. Like, say, a bar? That’s the thinking behind NYCPSFF, where free screenings at bars equipped with top-notch projection and sound systems make for casual networking with industry executives.


Los Angeles, CA; Outfest.org

Since its founding 30 years ago, Outfest—a nonprofit aimed at fostering gender, sexuality and LGBTQ culture—has screened more than 5,000 films for more than 500,000 attendees, making it L.A.’s largest film fest. Outfest’s Access LA program gives emerging artists the chance to secure one-on-one meetings with Hollywood players (agents, managers, acquisitions agents, etc.) and to compete for a $5,000 HBO Outstanding First Narrative Feature Award.

Palm Springs International ShortFest

Palm Springs, CA; PSFilmFest.org

One of the world’s largest short film fests, PSISF screens more than 300 films each year, and offers 20 awards in six categories, with cash or film production prizes totaling $100,000. As if the prizes weren’t reason enough to enter, all first-place winners in the Live Action and Animation categories are eligible for Oscar consideration. (Eighty-six shorts featured at the event have gone on to garner Oscar nominations.)


Las Vegas, NV; PollyGrind.com

This emerging undergound fest showcases not-easily-defined genres, such as Really Reel for documentaries, biopics and extreme sports films and Phony Baloney for found footage, mockumentary, spoof and satire features. But what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there; in its first two years alone, the fest has seen more than 20 of its selected films get picked up for distribution.

PGA Producers Showcase (ProShow)

Culver City, CA; ProducedByConference.com

When it’s industry recognition you want, go straight to the source! Part of the PGA’s annual Produced By Conference, the ProShow helps indie producers find funding and partners for their projects by submitting feature-length scripts, packaged for theatrical release. Ten finalists are then invited to attend the Conference, where they meet with top financiers, film commissions, studios and production companies in order to make their movies happen.



An offshoot of the Canadian Film Centre, SHORTSNONSTOP is a year-round fest showcasing three-minute-or-less films produced for mobile and online platforms. Films are accepted on an ongoing basis, with 10 finalists selected for promotion and distribution at the close of each deadline, at which time one moviemaker—chosen by a panel of industry pros—is handed $1,500.

Tacoma Film Festival

Tacoma, WA; GrandCinema.com

Winning a prize at this grassroots event (cash prizes of $500 are awarded to each winner in all categories) is fruitful. But all participating moviemakers come out winners, as future entry fees are waived for alumni who want to return to Tacoma with new work in the future.

Toronto Independent Film Festival

Toronto, Canada; Film-Fest.ca

Low-budget fare is the main course at Toronto Indie, where moviemakers show off their work and network within one of the world’s largest production communities. Plus, little films get the big-budget treatment, screening at the 700-seat Underground Cinema.

WILDsound Film and Screenplay Festival

Toronto, Canada; WILDsound.ca

Hearing your script read aloud can be a frightening—and enlightening—experience. Submit your script to this monthly reading series and hear it read aloud by a team of professional actors, followed by an audience discussion of the work, all done in the spirit of positive communication. Even if you can’t be on hand for the reading, all sessions taped and screened online for the world (including Hollywood) to see.

Your Film Festival

Online; YouTube.com/user/YourFilmFestival

Uploading your work to YouTube is nothing new… but this festival is. Show off your talents for driving story with a 15-minute video—in any format—and you could be one of 10 moviemakers whisked away to the Venice Film Festival, where one grand prize winner will be given a $500,000 grant to create a film to be produced by Ridley Scott. (Did we mention there’s no entry fee?)

Zero Film Festival

Various Locations; ZeroFilmFest.com

What started as a micro-budget event in New York has grown into a worldwide event, with additional fests in Los Angeles, Toronto and London, too. ZFF is the first and only fest for self-financed moviemakers to show their work in top cinema markets. So that you can get a jumpstart on the benefits that brings (read: reviews and industry attendance), the fest offers an Early Notice & Written Review option, where moviemakers are guaranteed to hear whether or not they’ve been accepted—and receive a professionally written review of the film—within two weeks of submission. MM

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  1. Pingback: DEADLINES • APR 2013 | FilmFestivalLifeLine

  2. Tiger

    February 27, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Please re-post the entire list of 25. Thank you so much.

  3. Aslan

    February 7, 2013 at 3:40 am

    hey, you owe us 13 more festivals! There’s only 12 here.

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