PHOTO: A movie theater marquee at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. (photo via Flickr/Clementine Gallot)
If you are a film buff, there’s more to seeing some great flicks than just heading to your neighborhood theater.
Film festivals offer some amazing opportunities to watch some of the best independent films out there as well as meet the writers, directors and even celebrities who participated in the films. There are film festivals all year long in just about every state—sadly the Sundance Film Festival is already over—but here are five must-see faves that you can still attend:
Sarasota Film Festival
Coming up March 31–April 9, the Sarasota Film Festival has had such actors as Matthew Modine, Jon Favreau and Rosie Perez attend. The festival started in 1999 and has since grown to an annual 10-day event with over 200 hundred films, more than 250 filmmakers in attendance, multiple special events, symposiums, panels and conversations featuring leaders in the film industry.
They have also honored some of the biggest names in show business, including many of cinema’s leading actors, directors and filmmakers have been honored at the SFF, including Alan Alda, Allison Janney, William H Macy, Tom Selleck, Jane Seymour, Jason Momoa, and many others.
Tribeca Film Festival
Held April 19–30 in the Big Apple, this is the 16th-annual Tribeca Film Festival, which draws some of the biggest names in Hollywood. That could be because it was founded by one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Robert DeNiro. This year it has already been announced that Barbra Streisand and director Alejandro González Iñárritu (“The Revenant”) will take part in Tribeca Talks conversations as director Kathryn Bigelow will unveil her virtual reality debut, The Protectors. There will be more than 500 film screenings and 222 filmmakers who will attend.
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Austin Film Festival
Will be held October 26–November 2 in Austin, Texas. It’s well known as a “Writers Festival”, recognizing the writers as well as the directors, actors and filmmakers. Last year’s event included Carter Bays, a co-creator/executive producer on How I Met Your Mother, Kim Bass, a writer with writer In Living Color, Sister, Sister, Kenan & Kel, and Shane Black writer/director of Iron Man 3.
Woodstock Film Festival
This four-day event is held in the beautiful Hudson Valley during leaf-changing season, October 11-15, 2017, so there’s double reason to check out this film festival. Woodstock is not where the famous 1969 concert actually took place—that was in Bethel Woods, New York—but this small artsy town has made a nice name for itself on the film festival circuit.
This is where Mark Ruffalo (“Avengers” and “Spotlight”) won an award for all of the environmental work that he does and where Alec Baldwin (“SNL”) appeared to promote the screening of his film “Blind.” There are panels with actors, directors and writers as well as a Gala award ceremony.
New Orleans Film Festival
This year is the 28th festival in NOLA and has previously welcomed Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar nominees Patricia Clarkson, Alfre Woodard, and Steve McQueen, and Golden Globe nominees Faith Ford and Sarah Paulson.
This is a great description of the festival from the website: “Filmmakers find themselves hatching plans for future projects over red beans and rice and praline bacon, meeting new filmmaking collaborators while exploring Mardi Gras floats at the annual filmmaker brunch, and rubbing elbows with Oscar winners at mansion parties in the city’s French Quarter.”
There are more than 200 films to see in 8 days as well as a number of panels and conversations to attend.