US Film Festival Guide

Think there are only a few good film festivals in the United States? Think again. Check out Travel Channel’s guide to the best up-and-coming film festivals nationwide.

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Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Nevada City, CA


Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Missoula, MT

At the historic Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula, Montana’s largest cinema event showcases an average of 125 nonfiction films annually. Along with screenings of new and classic documentaries, the festival includes film discussions, pitch sessions and workshops for aspiring filmmakers.
More Festivals in February:
Magnolia Independent Film Festival -- Starkville, MS
Appalachian Film Festival -- Huntington, WV
Big Dam Film Festival -- Quincy, IL
Carolina Film and Video Festival -- Greensboro, NC
StarLite Film Festival -- Winter Garden, FL


Disposable Film Festival
San Francisco

Disposable video is considered any short film made on an inexpensive device, such as a cell phone. But while moments captured with low-cost video technology may be considered "disposable," that doesn't mean they're not worthy of attention. Kicking off each year in San Francisco before going on tour across the country, this festival gives the work of non-traditional filmmakers the chance to be taken seriously.
More Festivals in March:
Ann Arbor Film Festival -- Ann Arbor, MI
Charlotte Film Festival -- Charlotte, NC
DIY Film Festival -- Hollywood, CA


Aspen Shortsfest
Aspen, CO

Set among the mountains of Colorado, Aspen Shortsfest is an Oscar-qualifying international competition featuring a selection of drama, comedy, animation and documentary -- all at 40 minutes or less.
More Festivals in April:
Atlanta Film Festival – Atlanta
Independent Film Festival of Boston – Boston
Nashville Film Festival -- Nashville, TN


Maryland Film Festival

An annual 4-day event, the Maryland Film Festival screens approximately 50 feature films and 75 short films of all varieties including documentary, animation, experimental and hybrid. The festival also includes a vintage silent film with live musical accompaniment, a classic 3-D film and a feature selected and hosted by legendary filmmaker (and Baltimore native) John Waters.
More Festivals in May:
3-Minute Film Fest -- Santa Fe, NM
Big Island Film Festival -- Kohala Coast, HI
Cheyenne International Film Festival -- Cheyenne, WY


Waterfront Film Festival
Saugatuck, MI

Looking to provide a "Middle Coast" venue for independent filmmakers, entertainment professionals from LA, NYC and Michigan created the Waterfront Film Festival, set in the tranquil resort village of Saugatuck.
More Festivals in June:
Little Rock Film Festival -- Little Rock, AK
Nantucket Film Festival -- Nantucket, MA
San Antonio Film Festival -- San Antonio
Staten Island Film Festival -- Staten Island, NY


da Vinci Film Festival
Corvallis, OR

What began as a humble screening of animations in 1999 has evolved into a 3-day exhibition of indie film in the genres of documentary, animation, shorts, and experimental. The da Vinci Film Festival is held as part of "da Vinci Days" where the small town of Corvallis is taken over by artists, engineers and teachers in a sensory experience inspired by the ultimate Renaissance man.
More Festivals in July:
Sacramento Film and Music Festival -- Sacramento, CA
New Hope Film Festival -- New Hope, PA
Real to Reel International Film Festival -- Shelby, NC


Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival
Birmingham, AL

Located in several venues throughout Birmingham’s historic theatre district, Sidewalk promotes a sense of creativity as filmmakers and film-goers mingle between screenings. Enjoy the outdoors as well with the addition of Sidewalk Central, a live entertainment and vending venue.
More Festivals in August:
Fandana Film Festival -- Huntington, IN
Feel Good Film Festival -- San Clemente, CA
Minneapolis Underground Film Festival – Minneapolis
The Indie Gathering -- Hudson, OH


St. George, UT

Organized by Dixie State College, DOCUTAH embraces Utah’s gorgeous scenery by screening its documentary submissions in outdoor venues among the red rocks of southern Utah. Master class seminars and filmmaker panels where student documentarians can learn the art of documentary filmmaking round out the experience.
More Festivals in September:
Jaxon Film Fest -- Jackson, MI
Phenom Film Fest -- Shreveport, LA
Latin American Film Festival -- Providence, RI
Great Lakes International Film Festival -- Erie, PA
Actors Film Festival -- Las Vegas


Tallgrass Film Festival
Wichita, KS

The largest independent film festival in Kansas, this 4-day event showcases more than 100 films from around the world, including foreign, documentary, short, GLBT, retrospective and premiering films. The festival prides itself on giving a voice to films that would otherwise not have a theatrical screening in the region.
More Festivals in October:
Austin Film Festival -- Austin, TX
Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival -- Buffalo, NY
International Children's Film Festival – Chicago
Midwest Ski Film Festival – Milwaukee
Modern Film Fest -- Kannapolis, NC


Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Columbus, OH


Santa Fe Film Festival
Santa Fe, NM

Beginning in 1999 as a way to promote Santa Fe's identity as a cultural hub, the Santa Fe Film Festival quickly turned into a premier event for the area. The festival offers awards to films in the categories of best feature, best Native American film and best Latino film, among others.
More Festivals in December:
Reel Independent Film Festival -- Hollywood, CA
Moondance International Film Festival -- Boulder, CO
DocMiami International Film Festival -- Miami

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