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

deadCENTER FILM FESTIVAL

Oklahoma City, OK / June 11-15, 2014 / deadcenterfilm.org

deadCENTER is located in the geographic middle of the Unites States, but it wants moviemakers to be the center of attention. With an entire committee devoted to guests’ needs during the festival, filmmakers go on coordinated daytrips with locals by day, and attend raging parties with free Stella by night.

 

FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL

Montreal, Canada / July 14-Aug 5, 2014 / fantasiafestival.com/2014/en/pre-festival

Quentin Tarantino once called Fantasia “the most important and prestigious genre film festival on this continent.” Yet despite its high-profile premieres and top distributor attendance, your film won’t get lost in the shuffle. The three-week event runs that long so every film gets a fair chance of being viewed—there are never more than three screenings at once.

 

FEMALE EYE FILM FESTIVAL

Ontario, Canada / June 18-22, 2014 / femaleeyefilmfestival.com

The female perspective reigns at this Canadian fest, though over 40 percent of attendees are men. Their archives boast the debut efforts of many an indie queen, including Anita Doron, Sarah Polley, and Ingrid Veninger. The festival is currently establishing its own distribution arm to further promote films directed by women.

 

FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL

Maitland, FL / Spring 2015 / floridafilmfestival.com

The 23-year-old Florida Film Festival takes place at Enzian, a beloved art house theater with in-theater table service and cabaret style seating. Last year’s event was attended by distributors like Magnolia Pictures, IFC, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Variance Films, hunting for new films to acquire—perhaps yours next year!

 

GASPARILLA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Tampa, FL / Spring 2015 / gasparillafilmfestival.com

Satisfied alumni spread the word about GIFF. “We have doubled our attendance the last couple years,” a festival representative said. “Several alumni go on our advisory board, and some have come back and made films in our city. This year at least a quarter of our accepted films were recommended by alumni.”

 

HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Hamptons, NY / Oct. 9-13, 2014 / hamptonsfilmfest.org

Why not submit to the Hamptons International Film Festival? Accepted moviemakers experience the perfect blend of a beautiful seaside community and top-quality films. The winner of the Golden Starfish Award wins a prize package of in-kind services of a $145,000 value. Cash awards are offered in other categories as well.

 

HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

Hollywood, CA / Aug. 14-23, 2014 / hollyshorts.com

Short film fest HollyShorts packs a punch in the prizes department, with a total of $100,000 in production and post-production services, a $40,000 film school scholarship for winners of the Youth category, and all-expenses-paid trips to New Zealand and Noci, Italy.

Copy of Indie Memphis

Indie Memphis Film Festival. Photograph by Breezy Torres

INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL

Memphis, TN / Oct. 12-Nov. 2, 2014 / indiememphis.com

Last year’s Indie Memphis held a filmmaking/brewing panel with Joe Swanberg, a party in a former bordello, and (of course) concerts galore. “Is this heaven? No, it’s Indie Memphis,” raved attendee Justin Doherty. They take film seriously, too: “We take particular pride in our jury, which features folks on par with Sundance.”

 

IRIS PRIZE FILM FESTIVAL

Cardiff, Wales / Oct. 8-12, 2014 / irisprize.org

IPFF’s claim to fame is being one of the best LGBT film festivals in Europe. Rather uniquely, the fest’s Iris Prize provides the funding, support and guidance (valued at £25,000) for its winner to make a new project. Talk about not resting on your laurels!

 

LITTLE ROCK FILM FESTIVAL

Little Rock, AR / May 15-19, 2014 / littlerockfilmfestival.org

LRFF has serious hospitality chops: Moviemakers are invited to stay for as long as they want, regardless of when they screen their films. And because founders Brent and Craig Renaud are documentarians themselves, they tap talent from their extensive network for panels and judges.

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12 Comments

  1. del snow

    May 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Full Frame. Weird omission.

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      May 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Full Frame is a great festival for sure! Thank you!

  2. Michael Groom

    May 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I had the best time ever at the Sedona International Film Festival. They’re very hospitable: providing excellent accommodation for film makers, parties every night, food on tap in the filmmakers lounge, and the location is obviously breathtaking. Every screening I went to was sold out and there was a lot of good opportunity for networking with fellow film makers from all over the world. Once you’re accepted the first time, you can apply as an alumnus for free, forever.

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      May 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Michael, Sedona IFF is definitely an excellent fest, and we’re glad you had such a fantastic experience. Thanks for the ringing endorsement!

  3. Holly

    April 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    The Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs, CO was a great festival I attended as a filmmaker! They really take care of you and make you feel special. They have a bunch of events for the filmmakers and the programming is diverse. Check it out!

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      April 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      Holly, your experience at Indie Spirit sounds lovely. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Noentryfee

    April 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    What about a topic on festivals that still don’t ask for entry fee ? Yes they exist, and some of them are kinda interesting.

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      April 24, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Awesome idea, and something we’ll look into adding the next time we publish this list. For now, you’ll note that the American Film Festival in Poland is one such entry-fee-less fest!

  5. Harrah

    April 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    The Seattle International Film Festival actually starts on May 15, not the 25th as listed.

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      April 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Harrah, thanks for catching that! We’ve made the correction. 🙂

  6. John R Taylor

    April 23, 2014 at 6:47 am

    The Shortini International Short Film Festival in Augusta, Sicily.
    It is a small city, the festival is a fabulous community of people working together to present a very good festival – divided into ‘Italian’ and ‘International’. The spirit of the place has to be experienced. It is an outdoor festival, with screenings at two locations in adjoining piazzas. Screenings start after dark and go to midnight – three nights.

    • MovieMaker Magazine

      April 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      John, that sounds like a wonderful festival (adorable name). Thanks for putting it on our radar. Italian festivals are really fun – there’s a great one in Bologna every summer held in Piazza Maggiore; it’s for classic films, not new ones, but if you’re in Italy in June you should definitely check it out.

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