What are the best film festivals for short films?
November 14, 2013 3:23 PM   Subscribe

My friends made a handful of short films this year, and we'd like to send some of them out to various film festivals. Where should we submit?

We made several films, in varying genres- drama, quirky comedy, dark comedy, raunchy comedy. Some surreal or unusual, others very traditionally narrative. Budgets range from 50 bucks to about $8K. All live-action, shot in HD. Durations range from 1-7 minutes.

We'd like to submit quite widely. Some of the films are well-suited to a niche festival- women filmmakers, all-female casts, LGBTQ themes, burlesque, Asian, First Nations, and Black talent are all represented within this gang. A couple of the films contain no dialogue, only music.
Each film works on its own- no need for them to be submitted in tandem.

We'll submit to Cannes, Tribeca, Toronto, Sundance, Melbourne.... are there other great fests we should consider?
Basically, name any film festival criterion you can think of, and we probably have something that could fit in.

Would be grateful for your suggestions!
posted by pseudostrabismus to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The two big ones for short films are Clermont-Ferrand and Tropfest.
posted by cazoo at 3:43 PM on November 14, 2013

Seattle International Film Festival is now accepting submissions, has an extensive shorts segment, and has always seemed to me to be supportive of niche filmmakers. It also happens to be the second largest festival in North America (after Toronto).
posted by saeculorum at 4:10 PM on November 14, 2013

There's a relatively new film festival local to me - Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival - in Hood River, OR. This year - the 2nd - happened last weekend. Submissions for 2013 opened Feb. 1, so open entry time for 2014 is around the corner.

It also has a link to the method they use to accept submissions, something called Withoutabox, which, given their description of it, might be something you'd find useful. It appears, from their main page, that with the free filmmaker registration comes the ability to search through "over 5,000 festivals across six continents".
posted by stormyteal at 4:10 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

If submitting to Tropfest be aware of the signature item. Watch some old entries to see how much leeway you have with interpretation.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:02 PM on November 14, 2013

Send it to Maine! MIFF! We also have a new film studio coming. And lots of stuff going on here. Really. One of my weird part-time gigs last year was courier for a TV production crew when a lens was mis-delivered. Maine is where it's at!!!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:09 PM on November 14, 2013

Frameline, San Francisco's LGBTQ film festival, always has a lot of shorts .
posted by rtha at 5:34 PM on November 14, 2013

Seconding Withoutabox, which is a very useful clearinghouse-type site that'll be your best single source for festival submission info.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Withoutabox will be an invaluable resource for you. Keep in mind, though, that many festivals charge a submission fee so you may want to be strategic about where you submit unless you have a big budget.

Here's a few better known festivals for shorts. I'd suggest trying a few of them and then if the film isn't showing traction with these "a-list" festivals, move to "b-list" festivals, again in a strategic way. Keep in mind that most festivals like premieres and most festivals have mandates to show some national or local talent. I consider niche festivals to be b-list.

Sao Paulo
Palm Springs Short Fest

The Toronto Short Film Fest is on hiatus, probably never to return and the Toronto International Film Fest only accepts shorts from Canadians, unless they fit into the Wavelengths experimental program.
posted by Ms Snit at 8:59 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wisconsin Film Festival! Does anyone affiliated with any of your films have a Wisconsin connection -- grew up here, went to a school here, anything?

Milton Film Festival, just outside Toronto -- small but mighty, very new, run by my friend who is awesome :)
posted by Madamina at 9:04 PM on November 14, 2013

You might also consult the Official Academy List of Qualifying Festivals. If you win any of those festivals, your film can be submitted for Academy Award consideration.

Obviously getting an Academy Award nomination is tremendously unlikely! But the list will give you a sense of the most prestigious, hardest-to-get-into festivals.

That said, Ms. Snit's advice is excellent, and I second her suggestion of targeting a few A-list festivals first, and then moving on to less-prestigious-but-easier-to-get-into festivals. I would also encourage you to target festivals that are in locations you can afford to travel to. Being present for your screening is tremendous fun, and a good way to meet other filmmakers at your level of experience.

FilmFestivals.com has a good search engine that will let you find festivals based on location, format, entry fee, etc.

Back when I was doing short films, I found Chris Gore's Film Festival Survival Guide a great starting place, although that was several years ago and the field probably changes all the time.
posted by yankeefog at 3:30 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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