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Table of contents for Cinemoose Guide To Film Festivals

  1. Sundance and the Major Film Festivals
  2. International Film Festivals
  3. Film Festivals Guide Part Three: The Indie Festivals

You missed the Sundance deadline and don’t have the budget to travel to any of the international film festivals. Still, you need to promote your little indie film. What are you to do? Luckily for you, there’s a whole slew of film festivals that cater to the independent spirit and support the independent filmmaker. Here’s a list of the major independent film festivals to keep an eye on and enter.


Palm Springs International Film Festival

Where: Palm Springs, California, USA
When: January
Deadline: Ocobter
Entry Fee: $75

Top Prize: Audience Award

Film lovers flock in droves to Palm Springs for this annual festival of more than 230 movies from 65 countries. The audience is appreciative and with a good mix of indie films and foreign language films this festival is a good place to start a good word-of-mouth buzz campaign.


Slamdance Film Festival

Where: Park City, Utah, USA
When: January
Deadline: August/ October
Entry Fee: $40/ $60

Top Prize: Grand Jury Prize

What started out as a film festival for filmmakers who didn’t get into Sundance, Slamdance has quickly become one of the top festivals for independent filmmakers. Describing itself as a film festival “by filmmakers for filmmakers”, Slamdance is open to all genres and Hollywood has started to take notice of this growing festival that’s no longer the red-headed stepchild of Park City.


SXSW Film Festival

Where: Austin, Texas, USA
When: March
Deadline: November/ December
Entry Fee: $35/ $45

Originally a music festival that started with the Austin Battle of the Bands, SXSW has become the premiere indie film festival in America focusing on emerging directing talent. Filmmakers attending this festival can also attend the many conferences held here. This festival is more indie than Hollywood so don’t expect to run into your favorite A-lister here.


Vail Film Festival

Where: Vail, Colorado, USA
When: April
Deadline: November/ December
Entry Fee: $45/ $50-60

Top Prize: Best Feature

Held at one of the largest ski resorts in North America, the Vail Film Festival was rated by MovieMaker magazine in 2007 as one of the ten best destination film festivals in the world. This festival attracts international media attention to the films shown and donates 25% of pass sales to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.


San Francisco International Film Festival

Where: San Francisco, California, USA
When: Late April-May
Deadline: November

Top Prize: Golden Gate Award

This is the longest, continuously held film festival in America and has played a major role in introducing foreign films to America. The 15 day festival shows close to 200 films from over 50 countries with an emphasis on movies that have not yet secured U.S. distribution. The SKYY Prize, a $10,000 cash award, has been given out each year since 1997 to the best first feature film.


Seattle International Film Festival

Where: Seattle, Washington, USA
When: Late May-June
Deadline: February
Entry Fee: $100

Top Prize: Golden Space Needle

The largest film festival in the United States, this festival runs for 24 days and showcases independent films, foreign films and documentaries. The audiences here have a reputation of appreciating movies that don’t fit into traditional niches. Unique to this film festival is a four film “Secret Festival” in which those attending are not told in advance the movies shown and are asked to sign an “Oath of Silence” promising not to disclose any details or information about the movies shown in the “Secret Festival”.


Los Angeles Film Festival

Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
When: June
Deadline: November/ January/ March
Entry Fee: $50/ $60/ $70
Requirements: No previous Los Angeles showings, Premieres preferred

Top Prize: Best Dramatic Feature

The Los Angeles Film Festival showcases the best of American and international cinema. Set in the hometown of the American film industry, you can be sure that there will be many A-listers here to see the films and promote their own movies. This is festival is the successor to the old IFP/West Film Festival and is a great place to be discovered by the industry.


Telluride Film Festival

Where: Telluride, Colorado, USA
When: Late August-September
Deadline: July
Entry Fee: $95

This small and friendly film festival is designed for film enthusiasts and features a mix of forgotten films and independent films having their North American premiere. There are no prizes or competition as being accepted into the festival is the honor here. Different from other festivals, the film program is not released to the public in advance so ticket buyers will only know the line-up the day before the festival begins.


New York Film Festival

Where: New York City, New York, USA
When: Late September-October
Deadline: July
Entry Fee: None

This non-competitive festival showcases feature and short films from all over the world. The movies are selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and features many avant-garde and experimental films.

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