From Utah’s Sundance Film Festival and the Harlem Film Festival in New York to Austin’s all-encompassing South By Southwest, we spotlight the film festivals you need to know about.

In a world where the hours in a day are an ever-disappearing commodity it’s not easy to set aside the time to attend film festivals, no matter how much you know you’ll get in return when you do. We get it. You’re busy. Here, we offer a guide to some of North America’s top film festivals, ranging from the biggest of the big and small niche independents to all those in between. Did we miss one? Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.

January Film Festival

  • Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah – What started off as a laidback small film festival in 1985 has since grown to become the largest independent film festival in the U.S. and the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Started by Robert Redford through his nonprofit Sundance Institute, the annual film festival takes place in January in Park City, Utah, and screens dramatic and documentary features, short films and episodic content. Since its inception, hundreds of films launched at the Sundance Film Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide. It continues to act as a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers. Mid-January

Film Festivals in February

  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Santa Barbara, Calif. – A nonprofit arts and educational organization, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is an 11-day film festival that’s been in existence since 1986. Held annually in early February in Santa Barbara, California, the world-renowned festival attracts some 100,000 attendees, including award-winning filmmakers, actors, writers, students and movie-lovers, and features some 200-plus films, tributes and panels. In addition to the opening and closing night film screenings and galas, the celebrity tribute events are among the most popular SBIFF programs, with fans gathering on the street outside the theater. For ticket holders, these events offer a unique opportunity to sit in a theater as Hollywood’s top talents and rising stars are interviewed by skilled moderators. Past honorees have included Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman and Robert Redford. Those seeking to submit their films, can do so here. Early February

  • SCAD TVFest, Atlanta, Georgia – Held annually in early February in the production hub of Atlanta, Georgia, SCAD TVfest spotlights the latest in design, creativity, and innovation on television, streaming and digital media connecting students, fans and working professionals from all spheres of content production at screenings, premieres, panel discussions and workshops. For more than a decade it has offered international audiences a look at the best content airing today and explore the latest trends in broadcast, streaming, cable, web, social media and advertising. Additionally, it provides a myriad of opportunities to network with future peers innovating in front of the camera and behind the scenes. (The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit, accredited university offering more than 100-degree programs. Additional film festivals include SCAD AnimationFest in September and SCAD Savannah Film Festival in October.) Mid-February

  • Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Los Angeles, Calif. – Established in 1992 by Hollywood veterans Danny Glover, the late Ja’Net DuBois and Ayuko Babu, the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of Black stories and images through the exhibition of film, visual art and other creative expression. As the critically acclaimed largest Black film and arts festival and Black History Month activation in the U.S., PAFF draws filmmakers, artists and unique craftspeople from over 40 countries and six continents to Los Angeles annually in February to showcase their pivotal work and talent. At this international beacon for the African diaspora of film and arts communities, attendees experience inspiring and informative panels and workshops –– featuring top industry professionals — and showcases of rare cinematic gems followed by filmmaker Q&As in addition to some 200 screenings. PAFF is also an Oscar-qualifying festival for animation and live-action films. Mid-February
Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker and Kathlyn Horan at “The Return of Tanya Tucker” Q&A – SXSW 2022. Photo by Nathan Migal

Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker and Kathlyn Horan at “The Return of Tanya Tucker” Q&A – SXSW 2022. Photo by Nathan Migal

American Film Festivals in March

  • True/False Film Fest, Columbia, Missouri Since launching in 2004, True/False has become one of the documentary community’s favorite film festivals. A community-based affair known for its enthusiastic, politically diverse audience and upbeat vibe, True/False is more of a showcase than a premiere festival. Run by the 24-year-old nonprofit Ragtag Film Society, the festival, held annually in Columbia, Missouri, exists in a permeable, in-between land – bounded by fiction and nonfiction, but also bridging cultures and disciplines. Due to its early March placement in relation to Sundance, True/False often features a number of documentaries from that festival. Combining a mix of unique film screenings and thoughtful panel discussions, True/False has continued to provide a forum for filmmakers, critics and viewers to consider documentary outside of its traditional boundaries. Early March

  • Miami Film Festival, Miami, Florida – Since 1894, the Miami Film Festival has served as a world-class platform for international, American and Ibero-American films showcasing the work of the world’s best emerging and established filmmakers. The festival traditionally opens on the first Friday in March and runs for 10 concurrent days. Its programming voice, unique among U.S. film festivals, has gained recognition for its numerous discoveries and has given out more than $1 million in cash awards. The festival has hosted and introduced a diverse group of filmmakers and actors, including Pedro Almodovar, Luc Besson, Alfondo Cuaron, Sophia Loren, Viggo Mortensen and more. Early March

  • New York International Children’s Film Festival, NYC, New York Established in 1997, the NYICFF is rooted in the belief of film as a path for young people to understand themselves and others. For over 25 years, the festival has been bringing the best new films from around the world to kids and families in New York City and beyond. All programs are designed to celebrate the beauty and power of film, spark the inherent capacity of children to connect with complex, nuanced art, and encourage the creation of intelligent films that represent and celebrate unique, diverse and historically excluded voices. NYICFF serves children, students, families, educators, filmmakers, and media arts professionals through its three core activities: the annual, Oscar-qualifying NYC film festival and national touring programs; Film-Ed, a media arts and literary program; and an annual industry forum. Early March

  • South By Southwest, Austin, Texas – For nine days in March, creatives of all stripes gather in Austin, Texas, for the acclaimed Film & TV Festival program that runs concurrently with the SXSW Conference, Music and Comedy Festivals. Attracting industry leaders from across the globe and small-town artists from around the corner, this fest is an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film competition, as well as BAFTA nominations, and Independent Spirit Awards. Winners of their Best Animated, Best Narrative and Best Documentary Short Film categories become eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards (Oscars). An essential destination for global professionals, the annual March event features sessions, music and comedy showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. Mid-March

  • Sonoma International Film Festival, Sonoma, Calif. – Blending a program of international film, food, wine and fun, Sonoma Film Festival is noted for its participation of film and media industry jurists and panelists. The festival continues to grow its reputation in finding and cultivating new talent from around the world, creating a significant platform for networking and distribution opportunities. SIFF programs full-length features and documentaries, as well as short films in the Live Action, Documentary and Animated categories. Culinary, food and wine films are also featured across all categories in addition to comedies from around the world, dramas and other genres. SIFF is committed to the 50/50 gender parity industry initiative, as well as films that cover the gamut of human experience from environmental, LGBTQI+, social justice and other diverse viewpoints. The five-day festival held in March supports filmmakers with generous cash award prizes and an accommodation program providing the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, community members, and our astute film audience in one of the most intimate, engaging and inspiring settings on the festival circuit. End of March

  • Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley, Idaho – Since 2012 the Sun Valley Film Festival has invited fans and filmmakers to America’s first ski resort to celebrate the magic of storytelling. The year-round Sun Valley Film Initiative develops professionals and illuminates the process of filmmaking, propelling emerging voices with grants and education. Every spring the festival celebrates with a slate of cutting-edge films and TV premieres, industry panels, engaging coffee talks with entertainment luminaries, a Screenwriters Lab led by award-winning writers, and a series of parties culminating with the spectacular SVFF Awards Bash. A variety of different-access passes are available. From screenings in the snow to an unforgettable reception at Hemingway’s restored hunting lodge, SVFF captures the spirit of a bygone era and the shared wonder of film. In tandem with the town’s cinematic past, the festival’s intimate accessibility attracts industry icons, creating a community of artists that define the festival’s unique atmosphere. End of March

April Festivals in North America

  • Atlanta Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia – Dating back to its founding as IMAGE Film & Video Center in 1977, an outgrowth of the need for equipment access, networking, information dissemination, and support among Georgia media artists and producers, the Atlanta Film Festival is the area’s preeminent celebration of cinema and one of only 24 Academy Award quality festivals in the U.S. Held annually at the end of April, ATLFF welcomes an audience of over 28,000 to its screenings of new independent, international, animated, documentary and short films selected from more than 8,000 submissions from around the world. Screenings often include in-person dialogue with filmmakers, providing audiences, artists and industry professionals with thoughtful opportunities to network, interact and engage. ATLFF is presented by The Atlanta Film Society, a membership-based arts nonprofit. Mid-April

  • Milwaukee Film Festival, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Run by Milwaukee Film, a nonprofit arts organization, the annual Milwaukee Film Festival, held annually in late May, has brought together film fans and filmmakers since 2009 to celebrate the power of cinema. With a vision to make Wisconsin’s Milwaukee a center for film culture, Milwaukee Film runs the Oriental Theatre, a historic cinema palace committed to high-quality and accessible film and education programming, in addition to the film festival. At its inaugural festival, more than 100 films were screened at three venues and since then attendance and the number of screenings has increased every year. Submission entries typically open in late summer. End of April/Early May

  • San Luis Obispo Film Festival, San Luis Obispo, Calif. – A premiere six-day annual event held at the end of April, the San Luis Obispo Film Fest showcases contemporary and classic film screenings in a wide variety of venues, from the classic Art Deco Fremont Theater to the independent Palm Theater, along with a variety of venues from the nearby wine country of Paso Robles and seaside town or Morro Bay. Founded by a local film lover, the inaugural festival launched in 1993 with a focus on classic and restored films. In addition to the screenings, attendees can experience panel discussions, receptions and special red-carpet events. The festival includes an independent film competition and the King Vidor Award, an annual tribute to a talented filmmaker, actor or film artist in recognition of his or her exceptional artistic contributions to the motion picture industry and to filmmaking in general. End of April

  • Dallas International Film Festival, Dallas, Texas – Since 2006, the Dallas International Film Festival has become the place for storytellers and audiences to connect and experience film as a community. Over the years, they have contributed more than $1 million in filmmaker awards, hosted more than 2,000 filmmakers and screened over 2,200 films from more than 50 countries. This year’s festival includes the best narrative and documentary features and short films from around the world. The festival pride itself in in its programming, which includes premiere screenings, nightly red carpets, daring documentaries, eye-opening short films, environmental filmmaking, nightly parties, filmmaker panels, award presentations and an enhanced filmmaker hospitality program that includes city tours and VIP Festival Lounge where filmmakers, celebrities and the audience can come together to discuss film. Grand Jury Prizes are awarded to competition films in Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Shorts, and Animated Shorts. A Grand Jury Prize will also be awarded to the best Student Film within the Shorts Competition. There are a variety of festival passes available. End of April/Early May

Film Festivals in May

  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia – Presented by The Documentary Media Society, a Vancouver-based nonprofit devoted to presenting independent and innovative documentaries to Vancouver audiences, DOXA takes place in early May in the British Columbia city. Celebrating its 22nd anniversary, the curated and juried festival is comprised of public screenings, panel discussions, public forums and educational programs. This year’s festival take place both in theaters and online. DOXA offers four different awards awarded by a group of filmmakers, film critics and industry professionals. Early May

  • Seattle International Film Festival, Seattle, Wash. – The annual Seattle International Film Festival, a 10-day event held in May, traditionally attracts nearly 150,000 attendees who celebrate films from more than 80 countries and regions around the world. Many of the features screened won’t have a return to U.S. cinemas, making it an amazing event to discover new and underrepresented voices and stories. The 49th annual SIFF offers films at venues across the city, followed by a week of select film streaming on the SIFF Channel for a week. Beginning in 1976 with the annual Seattle International Film Festival, then expanding into year-round programming, and their five-screen SIFF Cinema, SIFF has offered experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world for nearly five decades. Mid-May

  • Harlem Film Festival, Harlem, New YorkThe Harlem International Film Festival started with a handful of independent Harlem-based filmmakers in 2005 and has since developed into a showcase for feature films, documentaries, shorts, animated features, youth projects, music videos and episodic works from across the globe. The festival, however, still pays homage to its own neighborhood with the Harlem Spotlight series, which features films that were produced or directed by local residents, were shot in the neighborhood or serve to highlight Harlem’s culture and history. The festival has premiered works from today’s most promising international filmmakers and has become known as the festival that “brings the world to Harlem and Harlem to the world.” Filmmakers and attendees journey from across the globe to experience this four-day mid-May event, which consists of film screenings in state-of-the-art facilities, celebrity-filled ceremonies, network events and Harlem’s unsurpassed night life and history. End of May

  • Mountainfilm: A Documentary Film Festival, Telluride, Colorado – Held every Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado since 1979, the Mountainfilm festival brings together a community of filmmakers and change makers, showing documentary films that celebrate adventure, activism, social justice, environment and indomitable spirit. One of America’s longest-running film festival’s, Mountainfilm has always been described by one unchanging word: inspiring. In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, outdoor programs, a book-signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony. Presentations and panels are scheduled throughout the Memorial Day weekend event with a wide diversity of special guests, ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists. Mountainfilm takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded homelands of the Nuchu (Ute) and Pueblo people. End of May
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro at the Tribeca Festival. Photo courtesy of Tribeca Festival

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro at the Tribeca Festival. Photo courtesy of Tribeca Festival

June Film Festivals

  • Brooklyn Film Festival, Brooklyn, New York – Organized by the same people behind the Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival and the Brooklyn International Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival is a 10-day international-competitive festival. Films are divided into six categories: Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Narrative, Short Doc, Experimental and Animation. Additionally, this year’s BFF will present KidsFilmFest. In total, BFF will show 144 films grouped into 35 two-hour programs. The 26th BFF will be staged online, where all the selected films will play non-stop for 10 days and indoor at a few Brooklyn venues. Early June

  • Tribeca Festival, NYC, New York – For more than 20 years, New York City’s Tribeca Festival has worked to bring the community together through innovative storytelling across film, TV, immersive, games, talks and audio storytelling. Held in June, the annual festival always brings together a who’s who of talent. Last year saw the premiere of the hit series The Bear and special appearances by Taylor Swift, Pharrell and Lil Baby. Organized by Tribeca Productions, founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan following the September 11 attacks, the annual film festival takes place each spring and hosts over 600 screenings with approximately 150,000 attendees, and awards independent artists in 23 juried competitive categories. The festival takes place at a handful of cinemas throughout Lower Manhattan, mostly located in Tribeca but also in the East Village and Chelsea. Even though it’s a star-studded event and many premieres are attended by the directors and actors, tickets are open to the public and available to everyone. Early June

  • Cine Las Americas Film Festival, Austin, Texas – Featuring Latin American and Indigenous films from the Americas, as well as ones from Spain and Portugal, Cine Las Americas Film Festival began in 1997 as a Cuban film retrospective in Austin, Texas. Since then, the annual festival held in June has grown to include other countries as well narrative and documentary features, short films, animation and youth films. The mission of Cine Las Americas is to promote cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining and challenging the diverse Central Texas community through film and media arts. The five-day festival welcomes over 3,000 audience members for films and special events, in addition to guest filmmakers, musicians and other artists from all over the Americas. Submission info can be found here. Early June

  • New Media Film Festival, Los Angeles, Calif. – An innovative and award-winning festival created in 2009, the New Media Film Festival celebrates global stories, technology and platforms, continually implementing new opportunities outside the norm to bolster creators in media. The Los Angeles June festival is designed to both discover and cultivate highly creative work from emerging and seasonal content creators. Judges include staff from Marvel, PBS, HBO, BBC, Rolling Stone and the Television Academy. Submissions come with perks, including consideration for distribution. Early June

  • Bentonville Film Festival, Bentonville, Arkansas – Entering its 9th year, the Bentonville Film Festival is an annual event chaired by Academy Award winner Geena Davis. The June festival includes selections from competition titles (narrative, documentary, animation, shorts, episodic, adventure) alongside exciting work across all festival selections. Also part of the 6-day Bentonville, Arkansas fest are panels that challenge industry norms and conversations that emphasize independent artists in the art of film, storytelling and technology, and curated studio spotlight films with celebrity conversations. The festival features opening and closing ceremonies, awards program and press attended red carpets and offers three ways to experience it. Mid-June

  • Provincetown International Film Festival, Provincetown, Mass. – An annual film festival founded in 1999, the Provincetown International Film Festival presents American and international narrative features, documentaries and short films for five days in June. A program of the Provincetown Film Society, the festival is committed to serving its communities who are often outside of the mainstream but have a voice critical to the evolution of artistic expression. The festival often presents films about countercultural figures. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, PIFF attracts 10,000 plus filmgoers, movie buffs and arts patrons. This 5-day festival showcases over 100 American and international independent narrative, documentary and animated features and shorts as well as panel discussions and special events. In 2022, the Provincetown International Film Festival became an Academy Award-qualifying festival. Short films that receive Best Narrative Short, Best Queer Short and Best Documentary Short awards are automatically eligible to enter the Short Films competition for the concurrent season of the Oscars. Mid-June

  • Nantucket Film Festival, Nantucket, Mass. – This festival emphasizes screenwriting specifically with their additional screenplay competition that they offer. The main purpose this festival was started was to celebrate culture and diversity among the human experience. The Nantucket Film Festival started in 1996 and has been quite successful for many years with people from all over come to experience these screenings as well as the beautiful sandy beaches of Nantucket. Always striving to remember their true mission to embrace diversity, this year the festival will be held this upcoming summer. End of June

  • Palm Springs ShortFest, Palm Springs, Calif. – Created by “The Film Society,” The Palm Springs ShortFest is anticipated for summertime showcasing a number of short films. Their mission is to nurture as well as encourage the talent of these up-and-coming filmmakers. With that, this Palm Springs ShortFest is one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world as it is the 29th annual international short film festival finally returning with its in-person screenings. Because this is a short film festival, the viewings are called ‘programs’ and more information about how to get tickets can be found here. End of June

  • Oak Cliff Film Festival, Dallas, Texas – Conducted this year from June 22nd to June 25th, the Oak Cliff Film Festival is proudly in its 11th year of commencement. Beginning in 2011, this festival takes place in the region of Dallas, Texas as a program of the Oak Cliff Film Society which inspires independent films and hopes to share them with new audiences. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to discovering archival films to better enhance the community as well as using for educational programs. They like to use historic theaters and venues wherever possible to show off these films which is rare to find. On their how to site can be found helpful resources in order to better navigate your time at the festival. End of June

Festivals in July

  • Indy Shorts Film Festival, Indianapolis, Indiana – This international film festival may only be in its 6th year of running, but it has become one of the largest short film festivals in the Midwest. Taking place in Indianapolis, it is an Academy Award®-Qualifying film festival in all three short film categories. Not only do they screen short films, but also included are genres of horror, comedy, documentary, narrative, and even animated categories. Including all of these categorizes makes this festival stand out from the others. The Indy Shorts Film Festival stems from Heartland Film, which is another nonprofit organization. Mid-July

  • San Diego Comic-Con International, San Diego, Calif. – A festival like this is one you are rare to find anywhere else, but can see seen in San Diego, California. Not only to display comic books but also, films and science fiction/fantasy literature. Comic-Con has become the world’s major focal point for comic conventions with attendance topping 130,000 people in years past due to its enormous press presence. Overall, Comic-Con provides a complete convention experience with vast exhibit halls and a major program schedule. The Comic Con front page will have all the information for attendees and how to support the festival. End of July

  • Deep In The Heart Film Festival, Waco, Texas – Within the close-knit community of Waco, Deep in the Heart Film Festival gathers this year in the month of July. Honored to celebrate the art of storytelling, this event revolves around community and supported by Central Texas production. Also, it is set in order to help independence while allowing a spotlight for new film voices to he heard. The Deep in the Heart festival is put on to try to draw in new projects to the local area and allow for people within the community to share a special experience. Overall, all this community wishes to give power to the films that deserve attention which is very special. End of July
Pedro Pascal attends "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" premiere – SXSW 2022. Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW

Pedro Pascal attends “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” premiere – SXSW 2022. Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW

August Film Festivals 

  • Sidewalk Film Festival, Birmingham, Alabama – Celebrating the 25th annual showcase, the Sidewalk Film Festival shows more than 250 filmmakers as they try to continue to build audiences for independent film as well as encouraging their local filmmakers in Birmingham. Over the years, they have obtained enthusiastic crowds who are ecstatic to preview new cinema. During the last week of August, with this schedule, this festival is working to celebrate inclusion and diversity within the community. Mid-August

  • BronzeLens Film Festival, Atlanta, Georgia – Showcasing films by seasoned as well as the next generation of filmmakers that are by, for and/or depicting people of color, particularly of the African Diaspora, The BronzeLens Film Festival looks for films that are inclusive and diverse that speak to the heart, mind and soul. In addition to thoughtful films, the festival includes workshops, master classes and conversations about the art and business of filmmaking. Previous partners have included BET, WarnerMedia, OWN, Seed and Spark and Microsoft. BronzeLens has been approved as an Academy Awards Qualifying Festival for the Short Film Awards. End of August

  • Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, Colorado – Each Labor Day weekend, gathered on the small mountain of Telluride, there can be found a group of passionate film enthusiasts ready for a complete cinematic immersion. The Telluride Film Festival allows a space for the public to engage as well as be able to create a unique experience which is not only a picture show. This festival is a celebration of creators and historians as well as the community itself. As for the history of the Telluride Film Festival, it has always been about the people; mixing directors, actors, and scholars of all sorts, this festival is one very different to all the rest because the diversity and experience it offers. End of August/Early September

Film Festivals in September

  • Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Ontario – Ranking among the most prestigious international film festivals in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival celebrates its 48th anniversary this year. Early September

  • Out on Film, Atlanta, Georgia – Ready for another year, the Out on Film festival will be held this year on September 21st -October 1st. The Out on Film festival is very unique due to being known as Atlanta’s LGBTQ film, which is one of the leading LGBTQ film festivals in the United States. Not to mention, this festival is also an Oscar-qualifying one. 2023 will be the festivals 36th annual year of celebration. At the festival they show all things from local to international films for different perspectives. They are still open to submissions from all categories. End of September

  • Nashville Film Festival, Nashville, Tenn. – Known as a week-long celebration of all things film, music and culture, the Nashville Film Festival is celebrating its 54th commencement. Their goal is to highlight the filmmaking aspects and celebrate innovation of the many human voices and spirit through the art of film. With over 125 film screenings, the NashFilm hosts many different events and programs throughout the week to highlight different aspects of film. Currently, they are holding an open entry, this festival is another qualifying one for the Academy Awards. End of September/Early October

  • New York Film Festival, NYC, New York – Featuring top films of the year, the New York Film Festival collects great filmmakers as it celebrates the community and art from all over the world. Founded in 1963 by Richard Roud and Amos Vogel, this festival is one of the longest-running and well-known film festivals in the United States and even is BAFTA qualifying. Every fall, the Film at Lincoln Center allows a space for the public can come together to view new voices and expand their perspectives on film. End of September/Early October

  • VIFF, Vancouver, British Columbia – Vancouver holds one of the world’s most spectacular international film festivals known as the Vancouver International Film Festival (aka VIFF). The VIFF festival will be held this year from September 28th– October 8th showcasing exceptional films from all over the world. 2023 will be their 42nd annual festival which includes liver performances, conferences, talks, and other events unique to VIFF. The past years at VIFF have been an outstanding success with all of the fans, filmmakers, and volunteers showing up to support. Though in Canada, this festival is open to everyone and includes a variety of international work. End of September/Early October

October Movie Festivals

  • Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, Quebec – One of the oldest film festivals in Canada, the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short films. Showcasing national and international auteur cinema and offering audiences works of diversity and originality by emerging and major filmmakers, this festival focuses on new creators, new approaches and new technologies. Films include offbeat, one-of-a-kind niche works to crowd-pleasers to daringly innovative big events. The 11-day festival is designed as a space devoted to discussions, meetings and sharing, where film fans can come together with artists and professionals to exchange ideas in an informal setting. Early October

  • Tallgrass Film Festival, Wichita, Kansas – Save the date for Tallgrass’ 21st anniversary of their festival, hosted this October in the rural area of downtown Wichita, Kansas. Embracing America’s Heartland, this festival celebrates tons of culture with their authentic rural style. At this festival, they specialize in independent films with the hope to radiate the welcoming and uplifting sense of community throughout the public. With that being said, the festival is open to showcasing all categories of new films and have a submissions  page for everyone to contribute to. Early October

  • Heartland Film Festival, Indianapolis, Indiana – Founded in 1992, Heartland International Film Festival now showcases over 200 screenings and events with more than 100 different filmmakers. Happily returning for its 32nd year, this nonprofit organization of Heartland Film strives to provide a place for connecting audiences and filmmakers to the transformative world of cinema. The four-day event has grown over the years and is now an 11-day immersive celebration for everyone to come and enjoy. Early October

  • Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Hot Springs, Arkansas – This nine-day joyride known as HSDFF, or the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival will be occurring in early October for its 32nd Annual celebration. Located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the festival began in 1991 while screening 10 Academy Award-nominated documentaries and continues to see great success. Actually, HSDFF is known as the oldest all-documentary festival in North America which shows how supportive this festival has been in the world of film. The documentary film is something that this festival really works to protect. Mid-October

  • Hamptons International Film Festival, Hamptons, New York – Founded in 1992, the Hamptons International Film Festival is an international film festival held in theater venues located in the Long Island area of New York. HIFF primarily showcases short films, documentaries and narrative films and is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. Films featured at the 2022 festival received 38 Academy Award nominations, and overall films in the last 14 editions have received a total of 527 Oscar nominations. The festival places a particular emphasis on new filmmakers with a diversity of ideas, as a means to not only provide public exposure for festival content and its creators, but to also inspire and enlighten audiences. The festival offers special presentations, including Breakthrough Performers, showcasing new, emerging acting talent; A Conversation With, a Q&A session with film luminary; and Conflict & Resolution, which utilizes the power of cinema to increase understanding of the human realities of war and conflict. The festivals draw national film industry attendees, including representatives from a wide array of film and media companies, range of journalists including the film trade, Oscar bloggers, local publications as well as national journalists and New York-based press. Mid-October

  • Chicago International Film Festival, Chicago, Illinois – An annual film festival held every fall, Chicago International Film Festival is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America, celebrating its 59th year. The festival features a host of screenings, panels, educational events and Q&A’s that foster cultural understanding and artistic engagement. Showcasing films from established masters and emerging storytellers, the festival welcomes films from around the world. Offering an impressive selection of competitive and non-competitive programming, the Chicago International Film Festival brings both domestic and international films to silver screens in Chicago. As one of the main cultural importers of world cinema to the Midwest, the Chicago International Film Festival is a place for audiences and filmmakers to engage with one another. Mid-October

  • Newport Beach Film Festival, Newport Beach, Calif. – Attracting around 60,000 people, the Newport Beach Film Festival works to embrace as well as celebrate the culture and art around fine film. At the festival, they offer over 100 feature-length films, 30 short-films, and include 60 culinary partners so everyone can gain access to their finest of tastings. Normally occurring around October, the Newport Beach Film Festival nicely positions itself for the upcoming Oscar season. Not to mention, this festival is proud to be recognized as one of the leading lifestyle film festivals in the United States. Mid-October

  • San Diego International Film Festival, San Diego, Calif. – Celebrating 22 years of film, conversation and celebrations, the San Diego International Film Festival is marketed as a great space for filmmakers as well as filmgoers to come together to unite the community. Proud to present global independent cinema to the public, the San Diego International Film Festival hopes to provide a space to reflect on film for everyone. With over 100 film screenings, this festival is one of the leading stops on the independent film circuit. They also have a patron circle for their San Diego Film Foundation so the public can support this festival and the power of film. End of October

  • Savannah Film Festival, Savannah, Georgia – Each year, more than 60,000 guests attend The Savannah Film Festival as it returns this upcoming fall. This festival allows everyone access to a wide range of feature-length films. Also, there is a short-form competition film screenings, workshops, as well as panels. In Savannah, Georgia, this is the largest student-run film festival which creates a very rich history. This festival works to celebrate cinematic creativity from both professionals and also emerging student filmmakers. End of October

  • AFI Fest, Los Angeles, Calif. – This fall, the AFI Fest, or the American Film Institute Festival is being held. This is a world-class even which showcases the best films across a global perspective. In fact, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes this festival for their awards ceremony which is a big deal for a film festival. Showing amazing films, the AFI Fest features a variety of fiction and nonfiction short films as it works to recognize both master and up-and-coming filmmakers as well as cinematic voices. Tickets for the upcoming festival will be available soon so to sign up you can go here. End of October

November Festivals

  • Urbanworld Film Festival, NYC, New York – Known as the filmmaker’s and people’s festival, where it’s all about celebrating and supporting independent film, Urbanworld includes narrative and documentary features, short films, web originals, branded content, spotlight screenings, conversations and live staged screenplay readings. Urbanworld Innovation provides a forum offering case study presentations, panel and roundtable discussions, as well as immersive experience and intensive workshops on relevant industry subject matter. Participating content creators enjoy hosted industry events by festival partners that foster community with industry peers and executives. Early November

  • New Orleans Film Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana – This Oscar-qualifying film festival in three categories is one of the largest film festivals in the Southeast, serving audiences numbering upwards of 35,000, hosting as many as 500 filmmakers, screening 220+ films and providing cash awards and prizes valued at over $150,000. The mission of the festival is to discover, cultivate and amplify diverse voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time. Early November

  • DOC NYC, NYC, New York – Now celebrating its sixth year, the DOC NYC film festival is going to be held in November in New York City. The festival will proudly offer both long and short documentaries to showcase to the public. Known as America’s largest documentary festival, DOC NYC will be including an in-person and online event offering over 300 films for screening. Originally co-founded by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, DOC NYC also includes special guests as well as tributes in their festival. Clearly, the festival is proud of its history, so they have included a festival archive on their website which allows access to all the years past films and shorts. Early November

  • Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival, Minneapolis, Minnesota – In fall of 1999, the Sound Unseen made its name as a unique “films-on-music” festival in Minneapolis. Now celebrating 24 years of film, music and art, this November the Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival will commence. Though there are online screenings throughout the year, this festival is named one of the coolest film festivals in the world to attend. Overall, this festival is dedicated to the role of film and music and hoping to foster a greater appreciation of cinema and culture. Mid-November

  • St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, Missouri – Established in 1992 for the purpose of producing, promoting and presenting annual film events to advance film as an art form, the St. Louis International Film Festival screens approximately 300 films over a period of 10 days in November. A regional, internationally themed film event dedicated to exploring cross-cultural understanding through the art of cinema, SLIFF’s mission is to showcase the best in international, documentary and American independent cinema. SLIFF is an Academy-sanctioned qualifying festival for both narrative and documentary shorts. Winners of the juried award for Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short and Best of Fest (Narrative Short) can submit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar consideration. Mid-November

  • RIDM, Montreal, Quebec – Turning into the 25th edition, RIDM is celebrating a quarter-century of encounters for this year’s festival. Named the Montreal International Documentary Festival, audiences are encouraging to come and enjoy the variety of films played on the big screen. Film enthusiasts as well as the documentary community have the opportunity to see over 100 different screenings over the 11-day period of the festival. RIDM is proud to represent films form all perspectives and wants to create an immersive place to include everyone. There is a full schedule to the festival online which can be very useful in order to navigate the days of screenings. End of November

By Nicole Partis

Top Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW. (L-R) Jenny Slate, Daniel Kwan, Tallie Mendel, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Scheinert, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jonathan Wang, Michelle Yeoh and Harry Shum Hr. attend “Everything Everywhere All At Once” premiere – SXSW 2022.