Film Festival Basics

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Film Festivals

Film festivals are great opportunities to view films that you wouldn't necessarily catch at your local multiplex. With the help of the Internet, you can investigate the many types of film festivals. Once you've located your niche, check schedules, purchase tickets, or even watch films online. You'll also learn how to submit your own work to festivals and keep up with film festival news. The only thing you'll have to find on your own is a tight black turtleneck.

Film Festival Basics

Unless you know exactly what film you want to see at a particular festival, it's worth checking out these sites, which compile information about multiple festivals and keep you updated on industry news. Whether you want to find out which festivals are top-rated or search for a festival in your town, the sites below provide the overviews, databases, and directories you'll need.

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  • Some film festivals are traveling festivals; you can check online to see what cities the festival is going to.
  • If you find a festival that interests you but isn't happening for a while, sign up for its e-mail newsletter so you can stay connected as the event approaches.
  • Some search engines allow you to search for upcoming festivals by month, and others allow you to search by city or country. Others combine both. If you don't find what you're looking for right away, consider employing multiple directories.
  • Filmmakers who don't know where to submit their material can also take advantage of the sites below to search for suitable competitions.

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Types of Film Festivals

Even a cursory glance of the search results of the term "film festival" on the Internet reveals that there are literally dozens of different kinds of festivals, and that they take place in practically every major city in the world. There are animated film festivals and children's film festivals, horror film festivals, and short-film festivals. Some festivals are competitive, meaning that the films are judged by a panel and prizes are awarded, while other festivals are merely chances to celebrate different types of film. As you begin to search online for film festival information, you'll slowly be able to narrow your search to the types of festivals which interest you most. For example, do you want to attend festivals in the United States or abroad? Do you want to attend festivals with films directed by professionals or by amateurs? It's up to you, and the Internet can help you find just the information you need.

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  • If you plan on traveling to a festival, consider purchasing your tickets online or in advance to ensure that you don't arrive only to find that the film you want to see is sold out.
  • If you're booking travel to a festival and would like assistance with airfare and hotels, visit the findingDulcinea Travel Guide. Or, take advantage of sites that offer their own travel guidelines-many provide information about nearby hotels and transportation options.
  • Festival sites usually provide submission guidelines and information as well as schedules and general information, so filmmakers, as well as movie-goers and fans, can make use of the specific listings below.
  • Make sure the information you're reading is current. For example, right after a film festival, the dates for the following year might not be up yet. In other cases, information from past years is left up online, so read closely.

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Online Film Festivals

Online film festivals are film festivals which are held entirely online. Usually, films are shown for a certain amount of time, and viewers can vote on the films they have watched. Not all online film festivals are competitive though; some exist purely for the joy of spreading knowledge about film to others. There are online film festivals happening at all times of the year, and the best part is that, as long as you have a working Internet connection, you're guaranteed a ticket.

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  • To find online festivals which show the types of films you enjoy, use a search engine and enter keywords such as "horror online film festivals" or "online animated film festivals."
  • Viewing films online works best if you have a high-speed (cable or DSL) Internet connection. Films tend to be less than 20 minutes, but they still require a lot of bandwidth to view them properly.
  • Some online festivals are free, and some are not. Remember though, even when you have to pay, you can watch a far greater number of films than you might have been able to at film festival in a city, for instance.

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Enter film contests and festivals

There are plenty of sites online where you can submit your films to competitions, contests, and even film festivals. Some of the contests offer big paychecks or film festival debuts for first prize and others simply allow you the opportunity to share your film with the world. The sites below will help you find contests, competitions, and smaller festivals, as well as offer information about the submission process.

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  • Be sure to check submission guidelines. Does the festival or contest want 35mm or will they accept a DVD?
  • Make sure your submission is not too long. The guidelines are very strict for most contests.
  • Make sure you have a fast Internet connection, or it could take a very long time to upload your film to the site.
  • Many of the major film festivals allow amateur filmmakers to submit their own films; just because the film festival has a big name doesn't mean that you should count yourself out. Check the site for yourself.
  • The process for submitting a film to a contest or a film festival is fairly straightforward, but it does vary from one site to the next. Be sure to read carefully all of the submission guidelines online before you press "send," or else all of your hard work will be for naught.

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Film Festival News, Reviews, and Forums

Although official film festival sites provide plenty of information, sometimes it can be more fun to get your news from an alternative source. Not only will blogs and forums keep you posted on new developments and daily gossip, but you can also benefit from reading the opinions of film fans like yourself. You might even consider posting some of your own.

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  • Many film festivals have a "Forum" or "Blog" page that will likely have reviews of films currently being shown at the festival as well as reviews of the festival itself.
  • Remember that sometimes, people write on blogs only when they have something to complain about. Try to read from a number of sources to get an accurate take on the subject.
  • It's easy to contribute to a blog or forum-you usually just have to pick a username and password, submit your e-mail, and you're set. It's almost always free to post and read blogs.
  • The people in charge of running the festivals often read the blogs and forums for valuable feedback about how the festival went; so if you have something to say, don't hold back. Your comment might make a difference in next year's festival.

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