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Oscar-Qualifying Fests

Oscar-Qualifying Fests

Articles - Festival Beat

Every short film that’s ever won an Oscar has started out at a film festival and that’s because the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences selects nominees from a list of festival winners around the world. Out of 7,000 film festivals worldwide, only 63 have Oscar-qualifying accreditation. The following list of 26 are located in the United States.

It just doesn’t get much better than submitting your work to a film festival and ending up with an Oscar.

1. AFI FEST

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Award: Grand Jury Prize – Short Film Award

www.afi.com/onscreen/AFIFest

The AFI Fest is the only film festival in the U.S. to hold accreditation from the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (a group with the mission “to represent the economic, legal and regulatory interests which film and TV production industries in four continents have in common”), assuring a high standard of quality and reliability for the international film community.

2. ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES (Student Academy Awards)

Beverly Hills, CA

Qualifying Awards: Gold Medal – Alternative, Gold Medal – Animation, Gold Medal – Narrative, Honorary Foreign Film Student Award

www.oscars.org/awards/saa/index.html

Students from all over the U.S. submit their work in the categories of animation, narrative and alternative for award recognition and cash grants. Over 500 students apply each year.

3. ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL

Ann Arbor, MI

Qualifying Award: Best of the Festival

www.aafilmfest.org

The AAFF prides itself on being a premiere showcase for creative and influential films of the avante-garde and experimental variety (along with story-based narratives, docs and animated films) and is the longest-running film festival of its kind in North America. Its illustrious history includes showcasing the early works of luminaries like Andy Warhol, Gus Van Sant and George Lucas.

4. ASPEN SHORTSFEST

Aspen, CO

Qualifying Awards: Animated Eye Award, Best Comedy, Best Drama, Best Short Short

www.aspenfilm.org

Several shorts recently showcased at the festival have gone on to receive Oscar Awards, like The Danish Poet (2006), or nominations, such as Éramos pocos (2005), Our Time Is Up (2004), Two Cars, One Night (2003).

5. ATHENS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Athens, OH

Qualifying Awards: Best Narrative, Best Animation, Best Experimental

www.athensfest.org

Along with other cash prizes in the documentary, experimental, narrative and animation categories, the AIFF has a special Black Bear Award for sound.

6. ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL

Atlanta, GA

Qualifying Awards: Grand Jury Prize, Best Animated Short, Best Narrative Short

www.atlantafilmfestival.com

In addition to its array of categories, the festival’s Pink Peach Spotlight Section is dedicated to honoring films for and by the LGBT community that present themselves as more than just niche offerings. The festival’s legacy also includes screening the early films of Steven Spielberg, Victor Nunez, Spike Lee and Robert Rodriguez.

7. AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL

Austin, TX

Qualifying Awards: Narrative Short Jury Award, Animated Short Jury Award, Narrative Student Short Jury Award

www.austinfilmfestival.com

With its inception in 1994, the AFF became the first organization of its kind to concentrate its efforts on aiding the writer’s contribution to film. With the Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference, the festival provides a forum for screenwriters dedicated to development, networking and general career-launching.

8. CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL

Chicago, IL

Qualifying Awards: Adult Jury First Place Live-action Short Film or Video, Adult Jury First Place Animated Short Film or Video

www.cicff2008.org

Three of the films nominated in the short films categories at the 2009 Oscars (the Russian Lavatory Lovestory, Irish New Boy and German Live Action winner Toyland) have screened at CICFF in the last two years.

9. CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Chicago, IL

Qualifying Award: Golden Hugo for Best Short Film

www.chicagofilmfestival.org

Now in its fourth decade, the CIFF is the oldest competitive international film festival in North America.

10. CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL

San Jose, CA

Qualifying Awards: Best Short Narrative, Best Animated Short

www.cinequest.org

Cinequest prides itself on being “one of the last big festival bastions for the discovery of new and emerging film artists.”

11. FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL

Maitland, FL

Qualifying Award: Grand Jury Award Best Narrative Short

www.floridafilmfestival.com

The festival and its presenting organization Enzian Theaters have combined to serve more than 1.5 million people and premiere thousands of films.

12. THE HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

East Hampton, NY

Qualifying Award: Golden Starfish Best Short Film Award

www.hamptonsfilmfest.org

With the hopes of enlightening its Long Island audiences, the HIFF is committed to showcasing films with fresh voices and differing global perspectives.

13. LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Awards: Best Animated Short Film, Best Narrative Short Film

www.lafilmfest.com

The LAFF is unique in that along with showcasing narratives and documentaries, its program allows for music videos and short films by high school students. Other signature programs include the Spirit of Independence Award ceremony and a Filmmaker Retreat hosted by the festival’s annual guest director, which in the past has included the like of directors Mira Nair, George Lucas and Alfonso Cuarón.

14. LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Awards: Best of the Fest, Best Foreign Film, Best Drama Film, Best Comedy Film, Best Animation Film, Best Experimental Film

www.lashortsfest.com

In 13 years the festival has sent 33 moviemakers to the Academy Awards with nominations under their belts, with a streak of nine winning an Oscar. In 2009, two shorts shown at the festival were nominated for Academy Awards.

15. LOS ANGELES LATINO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Award: Best Short

www.latinofilm.org/festival

The LALIFF’s mission is “to support and promote the development and exhibition of diverse visions by Latino filmmakers and in the process promote awareness of the richness and diversity of our Latin cultures, our artistry and our countries through film.”

16. NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL

Nashville, TN

Qualifying Awards: Best Animation, Best Short Narrative

www.nashvillefilmfestival.org

The NaFF is the longest-running film festival in the Southeast and touts itself as a cultural institution. The fest has screened some of the most celebrated indies in recent years including, Spellbound (2002), Born Into Brothels (2004), Hustle & Flow (2005) and American Teen (2008).

17. PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL SHORTFEST

Palm Springs, CA

www.psfilmfest.org

The ShortFest, along with it Short Film market, is the largest film festival of its kind in the U.S., showing more than 350 short films every year and featuring a library of more than 2,700 shorts available to buyers.

18. RHODE ISLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Newport, RI

Qualifying Award: Best Short

www.film-festival.org

Three of the shorts shown at the festival went on to get Oscar nominations in 2009. This Way Up, which had its United States Festival premiere at RIIFF and won the festival’s First Prize for Best Animation was nominated for Best Animated Short Oscar; New Boy, which was selected for RIIFF’s Opening Night Gala and went on to win the festival’s First Prize for Best Short was nominated for Best Live Action Short Oscar; and Spielzeugland (Toyland), which was the recipient of RIIFF’s International Discovery Award, took home the Oscar for Best Live Action Short.

19. ST. LOUIS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

St. Louis, MO

Qualifying Awards: Best of the Festival, Best Live Action Short Film, Best Animation Short Film

www.cinemastlouis.org

The SLIFF has been bringing films to the Midwest that would otherwise never screen there since 1992.

20. SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

San Francisco, CA

Qualifying Awards: Golden Gate Award Narrative Short, Golden Gate Award Animated Short

www.sffs.org

One of the oldest festivals in the country, the SFIFF turned 50 in 2007.

21. SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Santa Barbara, CA

Qualifying Awards: Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live Action Short Film, Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animation

www.sbfilmfestival.org

The SBIFF likes to present itself as the preeminent Oscar film festival for its proximity to Los Angeles, its close timing to the big night and its knack of predicting Academy winners.

22. SHORTSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Award: Best of Festival Award

www.shortshortsla.org

The SSFF takes the 100 year history of short moviemaking into account by offering programs that highlight the evolution of the genre as well as striving to introduce the cutting edge films of today.

23. SIGGRAPH COMPUTER ANIMATION FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Award: Best in Show

www.siggraph.org

This niche fest presents the year’s best visual effects, animated shorts, student animations, scientific and musical visualizations and experimental subjects.

24. SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Los Angeles, CA

Qualifying Awards: Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short, Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short

www.slamdance.com

Slamdance, whose mission is “to nurture, support and showcase truly independent works,” includes moviemakers such as Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster and Jared Hess as its alumni.

25. SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Park City, UT

Qualifying Awards: Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking, International Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking

festival.sundance.org

One of the top-tier film festivals in the world, Sundance is one of the best places to have a film seen by a large group of cineastes and industry execs alike. Along with their expansive short film showcase, the Sundance Institute has a Global Short Film Program that utilizes mobile technology to share independent shorts with film lovers around the world.

26. USA FILM FESTIVAL

Dallas, TX

Qualifying Awards: Fiction First Place, Animation First Place

www.usafilmfestival.com

The festival has a curated, non-competitive program for feature films but launched competitions for short films and videos in 1979. 

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