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

LONE STAR FILM FESTIVAL

Fort Worth, TX / Nov. 9-6, 2014 / lonestarfilmfestival.com

Under Lone Star Film Festival’s B1ST program, industry biggies like Jon Reiss and Ted Hope mentor moviemakers in new models of marketing and distribution, prepping them for the next steps in finding their films’ audience. As a festival representative said, “Better is better.”

 

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA / June 11-19, 2014 / lafilmfest.com

Now in its 20th year, LAFF is showing no sign of slowing down. The fest is famous for its signature Filmmaker Retreat, a networking event that in the past has taken place at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, and this year will take place at the famed Parker Hotel in Palm Springs.

 

MARTHA’S VINEYARD FILM FESTIVAL

Martha’s Vineyard, MA / Spring 2015 / tmvff.org

Sick of hustling your film day in, day out? Grab a break at MVFF, where moviemakers get beach walks, yoga classes, reflexology appointments, and even daycare. “In between movies our guests truly feel like they are on vacation,” staff said.

 

NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL

Nantucket, MA / June 25-30, 2014 / nantucketfilmfestival.org

Beyond its generous array of awards and prizes, NFF’s panels are especially appealing. They include an All-Star Comedy Roundtable, where board member Ben Stiller interviews comedic personalities, and the Late-Night Storytelling event, where attendees present hilarious five-minute stories to a live audience.

 

NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

Napa Valley, CA / Nov. 12-16, 2014 / napavalleyfilmfest.org

Small wonder this fest is popular with attendees from nearby Hollywood: It puts on exquisitely curated dining and drinking experiences—exactly what one hopes for in California’s wine county. 2013 participant Paul Osborne says, “It’s only a matter of time before this becomes the new Sundance.”

50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee - National Film Festival For Talented Youth

2013 National Film Festival For Talented Youth. Photograph by Mark Malijan

 

NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FOR TALENTED YOUTH

Seattle, WA / Spring 2015 / nffty.org

If you are a young moviemaker looking to learn more about the industry, look no further than NFFTY. This Seattle festival only shows films created by filmmakers 22 and younger, placing an emphasis on educational networking—with some pretty awesome prizes to boot.

 

NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL

New Orleans, LA / Oct. 16-23, 2014 / neworleansfilmsociety.org/pages/detail/31/film-festival

Festival staff cite New Orleans’ eccentric atmosphere as a big draw: “We’ve hosted a filmmaker welcome soiree at an old mansion in the French Quarter, a dance party with a bouncy castle, an evening party at the Louisiana wax museum, and brunch amongst hundreds of Mardi Gras floats.” Last year’s total prize value was more than $80,000 in camera packages, film stock, cash prizes, and software.

 

NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL

Newport Beach, CA / Spring 2015 / newportbeachfilmfest.com

NBFF gets top marks for networking opportunities. Located within driving distance of Los Angeles, the festival hosted a large contingent of film buyers, sales agents, and both international and domestic distributors in 2013, allowing moviemakers to interact personally with the best of the business.

 

OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL

Oxford, MS / Winter 2015 / oxfordfilmfest.com

Oxford has a legion of alumni waxing lyrical about the fest. “It was my first year attending OFF but you could have fooled me. By the end of the first night, everyone was a friend,” said one. “They pick you up and take you to the airport, put you up in a hotel, feed you every day… You can’t beat that as a (probably) deeply-in-debt filmmaker,” said another.

 

PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL SHORTFEST

Palm Springs, CA / January, 2015 and June 17-23, 2014 / psfilmfest.org

With major distributor presence, ample awards and prizes, and a long history of prestigious premieres, both the feature and short festivals held at Palm Springs should be on your radar. A highlight of the International Film Festival is the two-day director’s retreat for selected moviemakers. Meanwhile, many of the Shortfest’s Audience Award winners have gone on to be nominated for, and win, Academy Awards.

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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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