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The Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2013: Experimental/Underground and Outside the Box Film Festival Winners
by MM Editors


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  • This week we’re announcing our 2013 Coolest Film Festivals in the World results, voted by YOU, two categories per day – leading up to the Top 25 General Festival winners on Friday, 11/15! Today it’s our fifth pair – Experimental/Underground and Outside the Box (formerly known as Other). For the full article and list of results, pick up a copy of our Fall 2013 issue, hitting stands any day now!


    (The following introduction opens the full article in the Fall 2013 issue.)

    What makes a film festival the Coolest? Is it a combination of quality cinema, great parties, and free swag? Or is it an alluring mix of hip, alternative venues and shoestring-budget, hyper-indie films you might not get to see anywhere else? What about the opportunity to gawk at celebrities, connect with fellow moviemakers, and take advantage of free travel perks? These are just some of the many factors we pondered before we could even begin to quantify the coolest film festivals on the planet this year. On top of all that, the MovieMaker team couldn’t possibly attend all the festivals in the Los Angeles area, much less the world—the territory this list’s title so ambitiously encompasses. So we decided to solicit a little help from our friends.

    It dawned on us that the best way to create this list was to ask our readers to offer up their experience and opinions. After all, we know the collective MovieMaker readership has the goods on almost every festival out there. So instead of choosing 25 festivals ourselves as we’ve done in the past, we asked our readers to nominate and vote for what they see as the coolest. We also broke our list down into categories to reflect the increasing diversity on today’s festival circuit. While still naming 25 coolest “General” Festivals—all-encompassing fests that don’t discern their selections by genre—we also named the five coolest fests in 10 new genre-specific categories. Running the gamut from “Horror/Sci-Fi” to “Documentary” and “Shorts” and the smorgasbord that became the “Other” category (including animation fests, sports fests, 3D fests, you name it), just about every conceivable kind of festival is represented. Over four months, we received more than 15,000 votes and enlisted the help of Hone, a visual survey platform that simplified our crowd-sourcing efforts (check them out at It’s important to note that the following 76 festivals are presented without any particular hierarchy or order—if you made it in, you made it in!

    See the first category winners (Documentary and Horror/Sci-Fi Festivals) here, the second (Short Film and Comedy Festivals) here, the third (Environmental/Social Cause and Women’s Film Festivals) here, and the fourth (LGBT and Ethnic/National Film Festivals) here.

    Top Five Coolest Experimental/Underground Film Festivals (Full list of nominees here)


    Boston Underground Film Festival

    Cambridge, MA / Late March 2014

    Held in Cambridge, Massachusetts every March, the Boston Underground Film Festival promises to be insane and deliciously hazardous to your health!


    Chicago Underground Film Festival

    Chicago, IL / April 2-6, 2014

    “I like the word ‘underground,’ as in CUFF. The word ‘independent’ carries a stigma of whininess. ‘Underground’ means a good time.” – John Waters


    Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival

    Chicago, IL / Early September 2014

    Onion City screens a platter of different experimental films, all with the common thread of artistic excellence.


    Pollygrind Underground Film Festival

    Las Vegas, NV / October 9-13, 2013

    The tagline for PollyGrind is “Hustle! Fight! Grind!” which is also the title of the fest’s official song.


    Sydney Underground Film Festival

    Sydney, Australia / Early September 2014

    SUFF is devoted to renewing local interest in independent and experimental film. Go underground, Aussies!


    Top 10 (+1) Coolest Outside the Box (previously known as Other) Film Festivals (Full list of nominees here)


    3D Film Festival

    Los Angeles, CA / Late September 2014

    Last year’s closing night gala honored Academy Award-winner Roger Corman.


    All Sports Film Festival

    North Hollywood, CA / November 8-11, 2013

    Actor Richard Schiff (The West Wing) was a special guest during the 2010 festival.


    Humphrey Bogart Film Festival

    Key Largo, FL / May 1-4, 2014

    Come ride the original boat used in The African Queen, and catch a screening of the film, too.


    Good Dog International Film Festival

    Mort Bay Park, Australia / Early September 2014

    If it isn’t cool enough that each movie GDIFF screens features a dog, all of the profits are donated to Australian and International dog charities.


    New York International Children’s Film Festival

    New York, NY / March 7-30, 2014

    NYICFF also runs film camps for children, offering classes such as Stop-Motion 101 and Multimedia storytelling.


    No Budget Film Festival

    Los Angeles, CA / Late September 2014

    Last year, the jury included Joseph Garner, the director of Craigslist Joe and associate producer for The Hangover II and III.


    Ottawa International Animation Film Festival

    Ottawa, Canada / Mid-September 2014

    This year, OIAFF received a total of 1926 entries from 76 different countries.


    Project Twenty1

    Philadelphia, PA / Late September 2014

    The number of participants in the 21-day filmmaking competition has quintupled during its first five years, making it the largest filmmaking competition in Philadelphia.


    San Francisco Silent Film Festival

    San Francisco, CA / Mid-July 2014

    When founders Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons inaugurated the SFSFF in 1992, more than 1,800 people came to the first festival—which featured only one film.


    TCM Classic Film Festival

    Hollywood, CA / Late April 2014

    The 2013 fest hosted Mel Brooks and Jane Fonda as special guests.


    Young At Heart Seniors Film Festival

    Sydney, Australia /
    Mid-March 2014

    The 2013 festival had screenings ranging from new releases like Hyde Park on Hudson, to free classics, such as Singin’ in the Rain.


    Sincerest thanks from the MovieMaker team to everyone who participated in the compilation of this list. To the runners up that didn’t make the final five in each category, we send our condolences, and thank you for your voting. There’s always next year. Glad to see your favorite film festival on this year’s list? Think you have a cooler festival than these up your sleeve?  Tweet at @moviemakermag, tag us on Facebook (MovieMaker Magazine) or leave a comment! MM

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