Filmmakers, festival addicts, and cinema lovers have it made here in Toronto. Not only do we boast, and I actually mean boast, the largest number of film festivals in the world, but some, including TIFF and Hot Docs, are considered leaders in the industry. That’s huge! Because Toronto has so much to offer in the way of film, we at Toronto Film Scene thought we should check out some awesome festivals the rest of the world puts on that you may or may not have heard about. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are just a few that caught my own fancy, feel free to add your own in the comments.
Set in Nottingham, UK, bang! runs three times per year, curated by filmmakers, for filmmakers who want some good ol’ screen time. There is no submission fee (what?!) so audiences can get a taste of all kinds of shorts made with all kinds of budgets by a wide variety of talents, both professional and amateur. Since its inauguration in 1999, the festival has expanded to include nine programmes ranging from animation to music videos, contemporary to art-based. If it doesn’t sound cool enough, check out the venue. bang! screens at the Broadway Cinema and Cafebar. That’s right, eat and watch. Enough said?
This California-based film festival is absolutely, without question dedicated to no-name films. It is completely indie and proud of it. Why is this fest pretty cool? Well, with their fierce policy on respect for filmmakers and fair play, audiences have the chance to see films that made it on talent alone. In most industries, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Dances with Films is a breath of fresh air, and in it’s 15th year, can boast some pretty successful alumni. All screenings take place over eight days in the Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, and there’s no screen-conflicts between films, either! Not too shabby, avid festival-goers could use a rest.
Tired of sitting in a theatre? Maybe you have some free time in February to escape the rather unpleasant weather? Puri, India has the answer, with the annual BYOFF! Held on Puri Beach February 21-25 annually, the festival is more of a gathering of artists, not only filmmakers, who would like a more informal showcase. Screening by day in tents and by night in the open air, BYOFF is open to filmmakers with a film in their pocket, or to people just checking out the scene. Ocean, sand, films. Sounds like a pretty great party.
Not exactly a small deal, Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX holds the title of the largest genre film fest in the United States. As the name suggests, along with horror and sci-fi, Fantastic Fest is here to promote all things fantastic and has hosted some serious world premieres such as There Will Be Blood (2007) and Zombieland (2009). It all goes down at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. A theatre after my own heart, they offer food and beverage service during the movie so you don’t have to interrupt your viewing. Heyyyyy! All that aside, it’s a great venue for audiences to catch blockbusters and indie films from new and established artists alike. Say “Fantastic Fest” 10 times fast, I dare you.
Someone got a little sick of seeing action films take a backseat at film festivals. Upon deep and earnest consideration, I have to say they have a point. Enjoyable, yes, but we stop short of festival acclaim. ActionFest, in Asheville, NC, is the answer to the prayers of action lovers everywhere. Celebrating the achievements of stuntmen, choreographers, and filmmakers of the extremely diverse action genre, ActionFest is an adrenaline rush worth signing up for. There’s also “Chick Norris” award. Need I say more?
Putting London, UK on the map for horror and fantasy, Film4 FrightFest is in its 13th year and growing like a zombie apocalypse. The five-day event draws huge crowds for the newest in gore and thrills. What’s cool about FrightFest is they don’t just stop after the festival does. Hosting all-nighter events and participating in the Glasgow Film Festival, FrightFest is making a rather sinister name for itself.
IRFF is an annual ode to the random. Seriously. And also firm proof that the best ideas spring from breakfast table conversation. In an effort to give all filmmakers an equal shot, 25 films are chosen at random to be screened at the festival, which takes place in a randomly selected location (past locations include Wiesensteig, Germany; BÃ³r Zapilski, Poland; and Anija, Estonia), and to compete for random awards. This is amazing! Which also means, on the audience side of things, you don’t know what you’re going to watch from year to year, or where you’re going to be watching it! Established in 2010, IRFF has a good thing happening here. Or there.
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