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.
I went to film festivals two weekends in a row, and not once the whole time did I hear anyone say “Do you know who I am?” I didn’t have a brush with stardom, and I wasn’t discovered. I never even had to stand in a line.
The phrase “film festival” still conjures, for many folks, images of starlets cavorting on the beach for photographers in France. Or puffy-coated California artistes invading the slopes of Park City, Utah. Or cigar-chomping L.A. studio bosses on the prowl among the palms, looking for the Next Big Thing to exploit.
There’s some truth to each of those stereotypes. But, while events such as Cannes and Sundance may have a global profile, they’re the exception rather than the rule. Over the last few decades, countless smaller-scale film festivals have sprung up. Portlanders may be familiar with local events, with the Portland International Film Festival the most popular among dozens, ranging from the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival to the Portland Humanist Film Festival.
But Oregonians don’t need to schlep into Portland for a taste of the festival experience. This year saw the fourth annual Eastern Oregon Film Festival in La Grande, the 12th annual Ashland International Film Festival, and the inaugural Oregon Coast Film Festival in Bandon, with the seventh annual Eugene Film Festival coming in November, just to name a few. Events like these provide locals with the opportunity to take in films they’d otherwise rarely have a chance to see on the big screen, to meet with filmmakers, and to come together as a cultural community.
In Brad Russell’s world, film is the currency of philanthropy. He’s a movie buff, a pastor, a family-man and the brains behind one of the region’s more unusual film festivals.
The Washington West Film Festival is scheduled to debut a range of independent movies, documentaries and short films this week at Reston Bow Tie Cinemas that attempt to capture the human condition.
A decade ago, the only thing Jon Gann really knew about film festivals was that he didn’t much care for them. After a year of traveling to dozens with his 9-minute film “Cyberslut,” the man who would go on to found the DC Shorts Film Festival felt defeated by the massive, impersonal cinematic showcases that valued sponsors over filmmakers.
His feelings were crystallized one afternoon when he touched down in France and rushed to a screening of his short, hoping to arrive in time to introduce his movie and greet the audience.
You’re probably aware that every fall, for the better part of a decade, we’ve published a list of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals”—the sister list to our “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.” After a lot of debate and consideration, we decided to kick the “Coolest” list up a notch this year and let our readers nominate and vote on their favorite film festivals.
As of now the nomination period has ended and we’re excited to begin the actual voting process!
The other really great thing is that we’ve divided this year’s list into categories, to recognize the ever-expanding variety of festivals in today’s circuit. So while we’ll still be ranking the “25 Coolest Festivals” in the general category, we’ll also be ranking the top five festivals in 10 other categories, ranging from horror to comedy, from ethnic to LGBT, in upcoming weeks. Now tiny genre fests and larger, more well-funded organizations alike can compete on their own terms – so if you don’t see your favorite festival here this week, look for it in the next 10 weeks.
Here’s how it works: The 80 festivals in the general category that receive the most nominations will compete for the top 25 slots. The 20 festivals with the most nominations in each of the sub categories, similarly, will go on to compete for the top five slots. Each week MovieMaker will be running one or two vote-offs to find the festivals that our readers think are the coolest. All the festivals that make our final list will appear in print in the Fall issue of MovieMaker.
About general voting: The first 40 festivals in the general category will compete this week, beginning today and concluding Monday at midnight. The second 40 festivals will engage in the same process, starting next week. The two weeks of voting will create our top 20 festivals, leaving five remaining slots on our list to be hashed out amongst 20 runner-up festivals (the top ranking festivals that came close to, but did not win, their category).
How do you ensure that your favorite festival makes the top 25? Tell your family, friends, co-workers, anyone and everyone to vote, vote, vote!
Aug. 2-4, 2013
48 Hour Film Project
|The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and your team have a blast making a movie. All writing, shooting, editing and scoring must be completed in just 48 hours. On Friday night, you are assigned a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, that must be included in your movie. 48 hours later, you must submit your film. Next? Your masterpiece will show on the big screen of a local theater! In 2013 the 48HFP will visit more than 120 cities where more than 60,000 people will make short films. The Project has truly spread to the 4 corners of the globe as filmmakers from Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas will compete to see who can make the best short film in a weekend.
If you are looking to join a team, people are looking for you: www.48hourfilm.com/join
Film Festival details at: www.48hourfilm.com
When we announced our Coolest Festival call for entries in April, we had no idea the response we’d receive. We expected to be wading through hundreds of submissions. Instead, you the readers, literally deluged us with thousands of nominations.
Because of that overwhelming response, we’ve decided to rethink our approach to the Coolest Festivals list altogether. In years past, we’ve published a list of the 25 Coolest Festivals—all chosen by the MovieMaker editors. This year, though, we’re handing over the Coolest Festivals list to you: Our moviemaking, movie-watching readers.
What’s more, we’re drastically expanding the categories. After combing through the initial data, we realized that there are a number of discreet categories (e.g. horror, comedy, environmental, LGBT, etc.) that shouldn’t necessarily be competing with dissimilar fests for the designation of Coolest Festival. The Chatanooga Comedy Film Festival isn’t vying for the same demographic as the Witchita Horror Festival of Film—so why should they be judged by the same criteria?
Therefore, for the 2013 edition of MovieMaker‘s Coolest Film Festivals list we’re accepting nominations in 15 separate categories! Ranging from the general to the specific, we’ve done our best to represent the full gamut of places you can submit your film.
Since most festivals still fall into the “general” category (Toronto, Cannes, Sundance, SXSW, San Francisco, etc.), we will be ranking the top 25, non-genre film festivals separately. For the content-specific fests (horror, comedy, LGBT, sports, student, etc.) we’ll be ranking the top five festivals in each category.
For the next month, we’re opening the nominations process back up to our readers. Whether you’re a moviemaker, a festival director, or simply a film lover, let us know about your favorite film festival by submitting your nomination using the form below. After we’ve collected all the nominations, you the readers will then help us pick the winners in each category during a vote off during July and August (more info on that, soon).
Winners in all 15 categories will receive a special laurel from MovieMaker, commemorating the win. The 24 runners-up in the general category, and the 4 runners-up in each of the sub-categories, will receive a badge designating them a “MovieMaker Coolest Film Festival.”
Let the voting begin! Click here for more information and to vote …