The Festivals You’ve Never Heard of and the Movies you Will

Every year we see previews boasting awards from film festivals we’ve never heard of. We flock to the indie section of our video stores and rent the entire Sundance section and try to decide which one will make a big splash in the theatres. This year it’s time to branch out and explore some of the more successful, albeit off the beaten track, festivals around the world. Some are a little strange and others fill a cinematic void but they have all become a force in their field.

Slamdance Film Festival

While it may not be featured on Entourage any time soon, the Slamdance Film Festival is the coolest Independent Film Festival around. In a bold move the festival takes place in Park City, Utah at the same time as Sundance. In true indie fashion Slamdance accepts only films made by nobodies with next to no money (ok, so that is studio speak for under one million). It’s the festival “by filmmakers for filmmakers” and it’s good at its game. Recent turn outs have included Mad Hot Ballroom, which received the highest price ever for a full-length documentary, Napoleon Dynamite and Memento.
Winners this year include How to Be with surprise star Rob Pattinson BEFORE he became a vampire. Pattinson goes back to his rock star beginnings in this film about a wanna-be lyricist and his budding friendship with a self-help guru.

The Faux Film Festival

These films are often short but are truly independent. The annual festival lives in Portland Oregon but most films show up on Hands are Bananas was a 2007 entry by Nick Andrews that erupted into one of the most viewed and discussed clips on-line. It wasn’t even voted the best on at the festival!

The Pocket Film Festival

Calling all hi-tech artists… the PFF features only films made using cell phone camera. Putting a new cap on low budget many artists have used this Paris institution as a chance to test out a new medium. This ‘sensible’ festival is based on the idea that you always have your phone with you, so you’ll never miss that perfect French New Wave shot. Perhaps Jean-Luc Godard will give the 2010 festival a shot?

Bourne to Die Horror Film Festival

Hopping across the pond to Dorset UK you can find a small festival with big screams. Focusing on the truly disturbing films, Bourne’s features all pull storyline from the deepest darkest fears of mankind. Last festival, the found footage film Home Movie carefully presented the home videos of a family after a recent move. The two 10-year old twin boys slowly develop as the embodiment of pure evil as their sweet parents also begin to see the truth. Shadowland was also featured and has won awards at festivals the globe over. After being left for dead, Laura crawls from the sewer with no memory at all. She is stalked by a man in the shadows as she attempts to reach help. These and more spine tingling features and shorts await you at the Bourne Festival.

Tropfest Short Film Festival
Often noted as the largest short film festival in the world this fest started as nothing but a movie screening night at the local Tropicana Café. Now it has more then 150,000 visitors a night and gets international buzz. Tropfest keeps things interesting by requiring filmmakers to reference the TSI, Tropfest Signature Item, in their submission. Past TSIs have been pickles, chopsticks and muffins. Supposedly this is an inspiration technique to keep the festival fresh.

Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
Everything is always fantastic in Amsterdam. Showing off a lot of gore from the UK and sci-fi from everywhere else (in their Brave New World Programme) the festival has shown classic such as the newly released Haunting in Connecticut. Another haunting tale, 100 Feet, stars Famke Janssen and Ed Westwick. Janssen plays a prisoner on house arrest after serving seven years in prison for killing her abusive husband. Not only does she now find herself stalked by his ex-partner but she is haunted by her husband’s vengeful spirit while she moves within a 100 ft radius. This program lines up a lot of movies that are sure to make a big splash in the cinemas.


One Response to “The Festivals You’ve Never Heard of and the Movies you Will”

  1. Interesting! I love film festivals! Thanks for sharing!

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