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Recommended festival, and what made it great

I have been to some great film festivals and a lot of lousy ones. I will not mention the lousy ones, but just say that if they market to filmmakers more than audiences, avoid them.

A great one this summer was TIFF (not Toronto, Transylvania International Film Festival.). They turned the main square of the town into an open-air cinema, they opened up the closed cinemas for a week, used the best lecture halls, it was impossible to miss.

I went to see the pictures to practice my Romanian (long story.). I had just about given up on film, but I still like to watch movies. I was surprised that so many filmmakers were there to answer questions. And the questions from the audience were sometimes deep, going into the subject matter of the films.

Most of the films already had distribution before the festival started, so the filmmakers weren't there to sell their films. It was about the connection with the audience, I suppose.

And with documentaries, you learn about what gets cut and why, what happened to the subjects recently, how they chose the ending...

The worst part of it was some filmmakers volunteered to tell their financing journey. Yes, they outlined how they raised the money after you saw the film. Strangely, I didn't want to know that.

But yeah, the filmmakers were there, on the stage, talking to strangers who were film fans rather than wannabe filmmakers. The screens were good, most of the seats were comfortable, the atmosphere was almost magical. These were films that were made to be watched, not just to win contests.

Other recommended film festivals include the One World film festival in Mid Wales. They somehow manage to get filmmakers from all over the world into small towns. And some Hungarian and Spanish language festivals, but I guess most people on this list wouldn't understand those (even with Romanian subtitles and translations.)

Which festivals do you recommend (especially from a film fan point of view)?

  • Theres a few that I can think of where the organizers did an excellent job of either promoting their film festival or promoting my film, Kalakari Film Festival, India, some of my submission fee was used to buy food parcels for needy people, so if your film didn't do well, at least you felt someone benefited from you entering the festival, second one FLOW festival and film market in Florida, they took the time to interview you and promote you online, then you had a live opportunity to pitch your film to prospective investors, the organizers did a follow up to see if you were successful etc.

    1 month ago
    • FLOW's investment and follow up sound interesting, from a filmmakers perspective.

      The idea of donating a portion of the submission fee sounds interesting, but I remember 25 years ago when almost all festivals were free to enter.

      Thanks for sharing. Did you enjoy watching the films of other filmmakers at either of them?

      1 month ago
  • Hi Vasco, I liked the points you bought up - may I share this piece on my social media? Thanks, Tony

    4 weeks ago
    • Hi Tony, While I like the idea of expanding the conversation, I would rather be a part of any conversation with my words in it. Do you have anything to say about film festivals?

      4 weeks ago
    • @Vasco de Sousa No problem at all, Vasco. I liked your comment about many festivals marketing to filmmakers more than audiences, so I just wanted to share that. I myself am out of touch with the wealth of festivals on offer; the last one I entered was many years ago...

      4 weeks ago
    • @Tony Franks I would really recommend going to one as an audience member (even a bad festival). Interview some of the filmmakers, I bet they would love to be in your blog. (I find short filmmakers are especially accessible. If you like their film, talk to them.) You should find some advertised with the upcoming films at your local art cinema.

      I guess you can share that comment and quote me on that first paragraph, and let me know what reactions you get. Let me know especially if your contacts recommend any audience-geared films festivals.

      4 weeks ago
  • I will add another festival to the list, that apparently started in London. It had a few shorts in it, so you can probably enter a film.

    I think it is called the film and Psychoanalysis festival. (That is a rough translation of the Romanian version.) Rather than having the filmmakers talk about their movies, there were professional psychologists who analysed the films and there were artists who broke it down that way. That was fun, even if I didn't buy into their analyses.

    I think most film festivals have a great mix of new talent (often as shorts and documentaries) and established talent (sometimes making more artistic movies than their usual fare, but sometimes just offering sneak peeks and national premieres.). Then there are retrospectives, like Young Frankenstein and Ghostbusters at Abertoir in Aberystwyth.

    4 weeks ago