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

PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL

Philadelphia, PA / Fall 2014 / filmadelphia.org/festival

Presented by the Philadelphia Film Society, the Philadelphia Film Festival boasts great press relations, industry attention, and covers transportation, lodging and airfare for moviemakers. Prizes for jury awards include a free round-trip flight voucher on Southwest Airlines and select film-related software.

 

PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL

Phoenix, AZ / Spring 2014 / phoenixfilmfestival.com

Attendees and festival programmers alike cite the Phoenix Film Festival’s central location as key to the fest’s success. “Our parties, screenings, events, seminars and awards are all within steps of each other,” said a representative. Because of this, the fest has “no problem selling out screenings due to word of mouth alone.”

 

POLLYGRIND UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL

Las Vegas, NV / Oct. 16-18, 2014 / pollygrind.com

The Vegas-based Pollygrind Underground Film Festival specializes in all things alternative, with a wide variety of films not shown elsewhere. They are also now part of the RxSM Film Exchange, so each year three winning films are sent to compete for the Crossroads Awards at the RxSM Expo.

 

RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

London, England / Sep. 24-Oct. 5, 2014 / raindancefestival.org

Raindance is the place to go for an international audience. With offices in London, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Berlin and Brussels, the festival is one of the world’s most geographically expansive. In 2012, 48 percent of the films selected secured British or European distribution.

 

RHODE ISLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Providence, RI / Aug. 5-10, 2014 / film-festival.org

This Academy-qualifying festival is the largest film festival in New England, with over 30,000 attendees each year. 100 percent of the festival line-up is selected from entries. Bonus: when you submit to RIIFF, you are automatically in the running for the RI International Horror Film Festival and the Roving Eye Film Festival as well.

 

SAN JOSE INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL

San Jose, CA / Oct. 9-12, 2014 / sjsff.com

Now in its sixth year, SJISFF programmers say, “We do our best to present films in their optimum visual environment—selected films are screened digitally from HD masters and viewed through 2K and 4K projectors. Filmmakers have routinely commented on our commitment to the highest quality presentation.”

 

SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Santa Barbara, CA / Winter 2015 / sbiff.org

For 11 days SBIFF celebrates the best of cinema in the beautiful seaside community of Santa Barbara, attracting over 75,000 guests each year. In 2014, 52 distribution companies were represented, and heavyweights like David O. Russell, Cate Blanchett, and Martin Scorsese attended.

 

SANTA FE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL

Santa Fe, NM / Oct. 15-19, 2014 / santafeindependentfilmfestival.com

At last year’s fest, John Waters performed a live one-man show, while George R. R. Martin, Kirk Ellis, and DP Lee Daniel hosted panels on their crafts. In addition, moviemakers stood the chance of winning production packages worth $2,500 as prizes.

 

Savannah Film Festival 2013 – Special Screening of The Spectacular Now and Q&A with Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Michael Weber, James Ponsoldt, Lucas Theater – Photography by Marc Newton, courtesy of SCAD

Savannah Film Festival. Photograph by Marc Newton

 

SAVANNAH FILM FESTIVAL

Savannah, GA / Oct. 25-Nov. 1, 2014 / filmfest.scad.edu

Savannah has a reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in America, a fact the Savannah Film Festival takes full advantage of. Last year it hosted a screening series called “Supernatural Stories,” where spooky, fantastical documentaries, features and shorts were screened.

 

SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Seattle, WA / May 15-June 8, 2014 / siff.net

SIFF, celebrating its 40th year, is the largest audience film festival in the US with over 150,000 visitors over their whopping 25 days. With as long a history as that, notable premieres have been aplenty, including Trainspotting, Braveheart, Blood Simple, Slacker, and Donnie Darko.

 

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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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