Previously: #25. Ashland
There's a bunch of other great American film festivals that do good work for documentaries and filmmakers. And if our Top 25 Film Festivals list was completely US-centric, the following ten film festivals would all make the list.
Here's an alphabetical list of 10 more American festivals that matter, with comments from filmmakers and industry who've attended:AFI Fest
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: THE ART OF THE STEAL, BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO, LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET, NEIL YOUNG TRUNK SHOW, REPORTER, SWEETGRASS
Our coverage of AFI Fest here.
Filmmaker: "awesome people. didn't get to attend, but heard good things. have budget to fly and house filmmakers"
Filmmaker: "Lots of glitz but not much substance, particularly for weighty films."
Industry: "I was really
impressed with the way they remade themselves this year. I'm definitely
interested in returning. And yes, they paid for my flight and room."
Industry: "Major film showcase with more than a passing nod to docs. Range of activity, organizing and facilities (up until this year). John Wildman and has staff are first rate. The many questions surrounding AFI Fest's "up-in-the-air" status the past year left attendees -- regulars, new and potential -- in a quandry: Is it or isn't it happening? The shortened program. Overall disorganization. The seeming lack of support from the institute."
Industry: "A good screening opportunity in LA - don’t get much bang but if you can get a few journalists in to see the film, always helpful. To be fair, the film selection gets better and better and I respect that they tried new things this year. Don’t know how it panned out with the free public tickets, but liked the idea. They were very accommodating in trying to travel an international filmmaker. They offered vouchers but only out of European hubs – but appreciated the effort. Not a lot of business happening but another good screening opportunity for those who need people (acad members) to see films on the big screen."
Industry: "it's no longer a discovery or missed gems festival - it's just a best of the fests. They only screen one program of short films and very few docs and independent films now."
Industry: "Can be valuable depending on the slot. Also, the festival is changing and they seem to primarily be programming best of other festivals and less films for sale so it's a question mark going forward."
Our coverage of Birmingham Sidewalk Festival here.
Filmmaker: "You wouldn't think anything happens in Birmingham, and maybe it
doesn't, but for one outstanding weekend it seems like the town was built for
you. Great hospitality. There were field trips for filmmakers and
the after parties were delightfully strange (80s hair rock bands, rappers,
rooftop dance parties, arcade games…) Leisurely atmosphere with eclectic
programming. A very nice and unique regional weekend film festival."
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: AN ALTERNATIVE TO SLITTING YOUR WRISTS, ART & COPY, HERB AND DOROTHY, IN A DREAM, NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE, PRODIGAL SONS, TRINIDAD, THE WRECKING CREW, YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE
Our coverage of Cleveland here.
Filmmaker: "Nice folks, put me up in a good hotel for two nights. Generated a bit of press and some interest from libraries for screenings. Together with the local NPR station they also organized a nice cocktail reception at a cool local bar with live music. Got to meet some interested fans that way.
Filmmaker: "Great. Centralized festival venue and great audiences...very comparable to Denver as one of the country's best regional fests."
Industry: "fine regional festival, but not a must in terms of a regular stop, though a good place to catch Eastern European titles. What it does, it does well. The audiences don't have much interest in parties, so the festival doesn't focus on them, which does feel odd and costs it a component that most other similar events are able to capitalize on. Don't love that the venue is in a mall, but if that's the best solution for the organization, i can't really criticize them."
Dallas International Film Festival (formerly AFI Dallas)
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: ART & COPY, THE COVE, FOOD, INC., ROUGH AUNTIES, WHATEVER IT TAKES, PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI, THE GARDEN, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR
Our coverage of Dallas here.
Filmmaker: "Really great. Clearly they have a lot of money which means flights/accommodation/travel for filmmakers, have great parties and huge cash prizes. There are also local audiences hungry for interesting films. I think it's poised to be a 1st tier fest. Now disassociated with AFI...it'll be interesting to see if that lessens their stature or if it continues to move up."
Filmmaker: "Good. Nice balance between big corporate sponsors and indie origins. Not a market."
Industry: "Great regional festival, they treat the filmmakers well. Not too much industry/press but growing quickly."
Industry: "they paid
all of my expenses, but I wouldn't go back. A free room at the W is not worth a
weekend of total disorganization."
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: BIG RIVER MAN, CON ARTIST, DIRTY OIL, HOW TO FOLD A FLAG, MY NEIGHBOR, MY KILLER, SCHMATTA: RAGS TO RICHES TO RAGS, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY
Our coverage of Hamptons here.
staff all around."
Filmmaker: "An audience fest,
not an industry festival but a very interesting audience. If you’re
looking to screen for a bit of a posher audience than you might never get to
come to your film in NY, may happen here (of course depending on the film).
They covered hotel three nights, jitney ticket and offered plane ticket."
Filmmaker: "While the programmers were great and the screenings well attended the fest felt stale with little to no connectivity between filmmakers. The Hamptons vibe was predictable - kinda rich and white and somewhat apathetic. The parties were filled with well practiced partiers scanning you for your brand of your clothing - fun though, if you drank enough and wore the right clothes."
Filmmaker: "a little too much star wattage on display and docs get lost in the glare."
Filmmaker: "Docs were a complete after thought as this seemed to be a real star fucker festival As a doc maker I felt that we are the poor sisters at these events. Holly Herrick was great but everyone has the stars in their eyes so the docs get well and truly left behind… Only paid either flight or hotel but not both."
Industry: "Becoming an important stop for me during the year. Thoughtful programming. Don't really take much care of you though."
Industry: "I know they bring in some filmmakers but not all.
Transportation can be a bit of a hindrance though one can also make due with
setting up at the East Hampton UA and watch movies between there and Guild Hall
all day. The programming appears to be headed in a direction that is more
centered around European--specifically Scandinavian--cinema. Not as many
low-budget American works, as they stick to a pretty strict mandate about
needing their films to not have previously screened in America if at all
possible. Which obviously poses a problem since the fest is so close to Toronto
Industry: "Good for docs - can give a lift but no sales are likely to happen there."
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: ART & COPY, BEST WORST MOVIE, CRUDE, FOOD, INC., FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES, HERB AND DOROTHY, MINE, OF ALL THE THINGS, PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI, SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH, TRIMPIN: THE SOUND OF INVENTION, THE WAY WE GET BY, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, WILLIAM KUNTSLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE, WINNEBAGO MAN
Our coverage of IFF Boston here.
Filmmaker: "As a filmmaker, I was treated like royalty at IFFBoston. Flight paid for, a nice hotel room, etc. My only complaint is that they aren't sponsored by Redbones, because visiting that restaurant can take a toll on one's wallet, if they obsess over it as much as I do. Great programming, an intimate atmosphere. My only gripe with this fest is that they should try to have a late-night spot where giddy filmmakers can reconvene. Boston shuts down at 1am and almost every year I've attended people have had to cram themselves into someone's hotel room to keep the socializing alive. I feel like this would be a HUGE help, even if there wasn't a stacked bar or something. BYOB is fine too. Just somewhere that people can comfortably stay awake into the wee hours."
Filmmaker: "nice people. had a good experience here with (my film) because it was a local story. so i'm biased. but the press was very open and willing to write again and again about the film."
Filmmaker: "WOW~ I was very impressed with just how fun and filmmaker friendly this festival is. The lounge is great and a nice way for people to meet each other. Pizza bowling night- not to be missed. As a long time Boston resident who saw how all the film festivals were terrible- I send kudos to Adam Roffman for finally giving Boston a real and wonderful event."
Filmmaker: "tried hard, good turnout. They care."
Industry: "Good for docs and good for positioning and local press."
Newport International Film Festival
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: 45365, 21 BELOW, ART & COPY, BOY INTERRUPTED, P-STAR RISING, POP STAR ON ICE, PRODIGAL SONS, THE WAY WE GET BY, THE WINDMILL MOVIE
Our coverage of Newport here.
Filmmaker: "If you liked Murder She Wrote and are prepared to attend some high brow New England afterparties, then this is it. We had a magnificent time. Attendance at the screenings could have been better, but the hospitality and local flavor of this seemingly small festival was overwhelming."
Filmmaker: "I remember great parties in mansions, cute venues. Paid for hotel and train I think.
Filmmaker: "Very nice people. we got 'put up' with some locals. that was weird. had a 4 mile walk to the venues. too long. would have rather been put up in a shitty hotel nearby. another place with so much money, the locals feel like a different species and the filmmakers and films are just passing through for their entertainment."
Filmmaker: "Newport deals with a B&B situation for many attending filmmakers, which has gotten some into trouble, but the quaintness of the environment and great programming makes it a really wonderful weekend fest."
Industry: "seems to be back on track in terms of festival staff and organization. why this isn't an industry stop during the year is beyond me. great programming."
Industry: "Always very supportive of docs and have excellent doc programming"Palm Springs International Film Festival
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, BLESSED IS THE MATCH, HERB AND DOROTHY, INFINITE SPACE: THE ARCHITECTURE OF JOHN LAUTNER, LIVING IN EMERGENCY: STORIES OF DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, PRODIGAL SONS, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, VISUAL ACOUSTICS: THE MODERNISM OF JULIUS SHULMAN, WALT & EL GRUPO
Our coverage of Palm Springs here.
"Unlike most Film Festivals (as
opposed to Doc Festivals), I felt that people were genuinely interested in us
and documentary. Alissa Simon is such a nice person and the audiences were all
hosts and fascinating if not bizarre town (the “women’s dress shops are
full of huge broad shouldered mannequin’s because they are not actually
catering to women but to drag queens!)"
Filmmaker: "very well run fest. paid for all; great hotel, nice break from L.A.; good audience"
Industry: "Very low key – feels more audience though I know they think industry people are there. I think just that awards ceremony is industry heavy because its situated in the heart of awards season, but at the daily screenings feels very casual, low key. Not a lot of business happening but another good screening opportunity for those who need people (acad members) to see films on the big screen."
Industry: Generally responsive and enthusiastic doc audiences. Access to Academy voting pool. (But there's a) lack of working professional covering media. Somewhat haphazard and indifferent press office.
Seattle International Film Festival
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: GARBAGE DREAMS, TALHOTBLOND, ART & COPY, CITY OF BORDERS, THE COVE, FOOD, INC., THE GARDEN, GOTTA DANCE, LITTLE JOE, PRODIGAL SONS, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD
Our coverage of Seattle here.
Filmmaker: "I like Seattle, they take care of filmmakers."
Filmmaker: "nice fest, no real center to it, so no connection/community"
Filmmaker: "Seattle's always nice but a little lonely for directors, as it runs so long you may not see another filmmaker!"
Filmmaker: "Good regional fest..seems docs don't get a lot of lift from this festival unless maybe wins an award"
Filmmaker: "Great audiences, excitement about the festival. Never was able to use it to get distribution for a film that didn't have one."
Filmmaker: "They got very, very mad at me when I had to decline their offer to screen (my film). The distributor said no, and I had little say in the matter. It's not as though I accepted and then reneged - I just had to say no immediately after they notified me, and then they were quite nasty to me on the phone about it. I realize it is difficult for festivals when filmmakers have to say no, but - as filmmakers, we are sometimes between a rock and a hard place. I would hope festivals would support us in that. In this case, Seattle did not."
Filmmaker: "Didn't live up to its reputation for me. So many films and so many venues and sparse attendance."
Industry: "Great mellow vibe, definitely an audience festival, with just a smattering of industry. Not a lot of business going on here but its a fun festival with nice people. Cover domestic airfare/hotel for filmmaker."
Industry: "never been because i think they show too many damn films."
regional fest - not alot of community but the screenings went well."
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: GRAPHIC SEXUAL HORROR, SECOND SIGHT, SMILE TIL IT HURTS: THE UP WITH PEOPLE STORY, ZOMBIE GIRL: THE MOVIE
Our coverage of Slamdance here.
They said:Filmmaker: "I really liked Slamdance when we screened there a few years ago. Useful to launch our film in the US, we actually had more inquiries after Slamdance than after Sundance, and had a distributor come to our screening. Not the best organisation. Lower-key but fun."
Filmmaker: "Friendliest programmers ever."
Industry: "It's in Park City and they like to program docs. An alternative to the bloatedness of Sundance. Self-contained. Convenient. Some crossover audiences/press/buyers from Sundance. Far from optimal screening facilities and screening atmosphere and it seemingly thrives on remaining that way. Inconsistent media coverage. Crossover seems confined to single day or 1 or 2 screenings only."
Industry: "I only went there once
(when I snuck away from Sundance) – and I LOVE their programming!!!"
Industry: "I only went there once (when I snuck away from Sundance) – and I LOVE their programming!!!"
Industry: "not essential, but a
good place for some solid to great docs to premiere that were not
necessarily the best fit for Sundance. Worth checking out when in
Park City. smaller line up
allows them to focus appropriately on and spotlight fewer films .
.would be good if it somehow got out of the shadow of Sundance, but the proximity remains key to the attention it receives and the films it gets to show in many ways."
Industry: "I've never had time to pay much attention to it while at Sundance."
Industry: "Can be great as an alternative to going to
sundance....programming slot is key to avoid going head to head against bigger
sundance titles...films like mad got ballroom and Dear Zachary made the best of
Industry: "Can be great as an alternative to going to sundance....programming slot is key to avoid going head to head against bigger sundance titles...films like mad got ballroom and Dear Zachary made the best of slamdance."
Industry: "Past couple of years
have had all sorts of problems with press office but have had great conversations
with filmmakers at their parties/cocktail hours."
Industry: "Past couple of years have had all sorts of problems with press office but have had great conversations with filmmakers at their parties/cocktail hours."