Festival, festival, festival: Kellie Ann Benz loves her some film festival


So the season of festivals has now begun.

When Cannes announced their full lineup last week, it probably made you a little wistful. I mean, that is, if you’re a filmmaker wondering how you yourself can match the impressive record of Montreal wunderkind Xavier Dolan.

Never heard of Dolan?

You should know about Dolan. You see in a country as wide and diverse as ours, and in an industry as politicized and polarized as ours is, never has there been a Canadian filmmaker to slip through the ranks with a three for three invite to the Cannes Film Festival like Dolan.

But while Dolan continues to surprise the bureaucrats and collect accolades for his extraordinary work (check out Heartbeats – a gorgeous film!) a recent article in The Guardian UK put a pin in the bubble of the long held belief that Cannes is the grand dame of film festivals.

It’s The Guardian’s estimation that Sundance and Berlin now outweigh Cannes and even Canada’s biggest festival – Toronto International – is an undeniable trendsetter for cinematic standards.

They also point out that Edinburgh’s once super cool roster has now faltered to the ever-building BFI London Film Festival, and remind filmmakers not to forget San Sebastian, SXSW, Telluride and Tribeca.

I’ve always been a big fan of busting out of the regular mode of the everyday most famous film festivals and submitting to lesser known hotbeds of talent, just like in this article about short film submissions from last year.

It’s true that the big festivals remain the big festivals for a reason. They have excellent track records and provide an even better chance to expand your fan base beyond your proud (or worried) parents. I do also think it’s important to know about the little up-and-coming film festivals and submit to them all.

I think the only one that The Guardian’s list missed is the Seattle International Film Festival, one of the Pacific Northwest’s not-so-little gems. With a robust month-long schedule and true dedication to independent voices, it’s a festival entry to add to your submissions plan.

The good news for us all is the film festival ain’t going nowhere because we need this marketing tool to continue to help advertise our new films, find champions, and build audiences. Yeah, that’s what I said. Festivals are the indie filmmakers bestest best friend forever and I, for one, am glad they’re here to stay.

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