A Sampler of the Best Film Festivals for 2022/23
Film festivals are such a unique corner of the industry. It’s a platform where film professionals can come together and converse about the latest advancements and releases. For cinephiles that aren’t professionally involved, it’s fun, but there’s a lot of work behind the curtain that goes unseen. These beloved annual gatherings wouldn’t work without the monetary support of various groups ranging from individual investors to film industry organizations or groups to the local or even national government. Beyond that, there are all of the selection committees. Their job is to screen all entrants and then select what makes it to the main event. And certainly, let’s not forget all the employees and volunteers pulling the whole thing off.
When most of us think of festivals, we think of Venice, Cannes, or Berlin for a good reason. Venice was the first (1932), Cannes has become the highest regarded, and Berlin has the largest public attendance. The big three have continued to carve out space for countless festivals to exist and for people to experience. Stateside, there’s a plethora to choose from in almost every state. We’ve hand-picked a couple of South Florida Fests (as it is CultureOwl's backyard) as well as some of the most prestigious, popular, and largest events happening around the country! Not to mention, in recent years, many festivals have opted for a hybrid-style event. So make sure to look at the website to see if you can participate from the comfort of your home!
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
November 4-13, 2022
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, or FLIFF, celebrates 37 years of showcasing independent films for professionals and fans alike. Since 1985 FLIFF has featured both domestic and international films, predominately feature-length and shorts. This year’s event estimates to consist of over 40 foreign and 170 domestic films.
Hosted by the Broward County Film Society, the Fort Lauderdale festival has become a shining pillar of their community. As they’ve grown, it’s become a tradition to have the opening weekend welcome party at the Seminole Hard Rock. The city really transforms to host parties, panels, and of course, screenings.
Miami Film Festival
March 3-12, 2023
Similarly known as the MDC Miami Film Festival showcases the work of the world’s best rookie and senior artists. The festival’s changed hands over time but has been with the Miami Dade College family for some time. Now heading towards its 40th year, the festival is a platform for diverse international and domestic entries alike to compete in feature narratives, documentaries, and short films of all genres.
Gasparilla International Film Festival
March 23-26, 2023
Hosted by the Tampa Film Institute, the Gasparilla International Film Festival has become a touchstone of the community. The Institute and festival are significant patrons in helping foster Tampa Bay’s creative community and continuing the education of their community through film and other artistic-based endeavors. GIFF has become the most prestigious of the local Florida events. Headed into its 16th year, it continues to hold every showcased filmmaker and their project professionally, down to their college and high school showcases.
The festival accepts local, U.S.-based, and international shorts and feature-length entries. Gasparilla aims for accessibility and respect of the medium. Both GIFF and the Tampa Film Institute genuinely invest in the local community beyond the festival’s weekend. The Institute and Fest have invested in public events at Tampa’s art museum with monthly screenings but have also taken part in social initiatives and community outreach.
Sundance Film Festival
January 19-29, 2023
Sundance is viewed as one of the most renowned independent film festivals, both nationally and internationally. Ran by the Sundance Institute, they allow submissions of features, shorts, documentaries, and even episodic or series material. And as one of the premiere indie fests, they get more than 13,000 submissions only to accept a small and elite number of films to be shown at Sundance.
Annually, since 1978 Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort all take part in hosting the special event. Sundance film festival is one of the most notorious festivals to award films prizes that go on to win during award season. Some of the most recent winners are “CODA,”
and “Minari”; both have gone on to win many awards. “Nanny” most recently won the US grand jury prize. Its limited theatrical release begins next month, then heads to streaming in December.
Tribeca Film Festival
June 7-18, 2023
In 2002-2003, Craig Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal, and Robert De Niro came together to form Tribeca Enterprises. The trio wanted to create a space designated for like-minded media lovers to converse, learn and watch in New York City. Now in its second decade of life, the event recently underwent a name change from the Tribeca Film Festival to the Tribeca Festival.
The event has quickly become a staple for newer talents, independent and innovative filmmakers, and even television series. Although most other festivals don’t showcase shows meant for TV, Tribeca does. Most recently, the premier of “The Bear” debuted with great reviews.
March 10-19, 2023
SXSW is a favorite amongst festival attendees, one of the most popular and public festivals stateside. It boasts a music festival, film screenings, and interactive media. With the idea originating in 1987, the event has continued to grow and influence the festival scene. The hosts have expanded their festival format into other national and international iterations. South by continues to lead in the field of festivals with enthusiastic and involved audiences ready to experience new art of all forms. The springtime event debuts the most outstanding new films–feature and shorts, documentaries, music videos, and television programs in most genres.
Telluride Film Festival
Fall (Sept) 2023
Telluride’s film festival is different than most. Its spirit runs at a different speed, no awards, non-competitive, and the film program doesn’t get revealed until the arrival of its guests. This weekend is based more on the celebration of film and its art form than the monetary acclaim it can potentially achieve. Run as a non-profit; Telluride has knitted a die-hard community of cinephiles, both in the industry and not. Since 1974 the continued support of the beloved event has thrived due to its patrons. Although a non-competitive, the event has famously shown films that have gone on to much success.
Palm Springs Film Festival
January 5-16, 2023
In the late 80s, the mayor of Palm Springs, Sonny Bono, thought it would positively impact the local economy–which led to the popularity and tourist mecca it is today. 1990 was the inaugural year of the international festival, and Palm Springs has never been the same. Today, its hosted by the Palm Springs International Film Society and has continued to grow and harbor its legacy. The festival has sprouted more niche events throughout the year, like ShortFest, but the primary week hosts predominately international films. A small amount of US-based films also make their way into the circuit for the winter festival.
Seattle International Film Festival
May 11-21, 2023
Last but not least is the Seattle International Film Festival or SIFF. SIFF is the largest of the States’ festivals, starting in 1976. Run as a non-profit, Seattle’s festival, like Telluride, has built a very intentional community who have continually dedicated itself to aiding the tradition of the festival’s continuance and acclaim. The success of the size is due to the population of people being more ‘moviegoers’ than ‘moviemakers.’ Also, the draw is that an array of genres are shared, consisting of features, shorts, and docs, from over 80+ countries. Most of these films don’t usually get distributed beyond the festival.