Angelo Bell Presents: The Top Free Film Festivals for Independent Filmmakers

A low-budget filmmaker can spend easily spend thousands of dollars in film festival submissions. Wouldn’t it be great to have a current list of FREE FILM FESTIVALS (or almost free) with no submission fees? Getting festival laurels shouldn’t have to cost thousands of dollars.

When someone mentions a film festival to me they are usually hard-pressed to come up with a good festival that I haven’t already heard of. In the past ten years I have produced over ten films. During this time it was common for me to submit each film to the top five tier-1 film festivals and then another 5-10 local or tier 2 film festivals. In 2006 I produced six short films. In that calendar year it was routine for me to spend $150 per film festival submission because I was usually submitted no less than four films at a time. You don’t have to be a mathematician to see how much money I’ve spent on film festival submission fees over the year.

But last year things changed. I wrote, directed, funded and produced a micro-budget feature film called “Resurrection of Serious Rogers.” RSR was going to be a web series but my editor and I really liked what happened organically with the project. The film naturally fell into the rhythm and pacing of a neo-noir action thriller feature. My only concern was this: We made this 100-minute film for next to no money, and solely on the blood, sweat, tears, talents and contributions of everyone involved. I wasn’t about to more money film festival submissions than it cost to make the movie. I imagined that there had to be a handful of film festivals that didn’t charge submission fees and I began my search.

What I found was a bunch of “free film festival” lists with outdated information and dead web links. That’s when I decided to dig even deeper and simply research, verify and create my own list of “free film festivals.” I was sure I’d find five, maybe ten festivals and that’s not bad. Imagine adding ten film festival laurels to your film’s website — and it didn’t cost you any money! But my research took me one step further. I have over thirty listings for free (or nearly free) film festivals with no (or super low) submissions fees. Most importantly, these festivals aren’t just local, or even just in the United States. This list covers no-fee film festivals in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and even France!

I’m providing the list but YOU must complete your own due-diligence. Five film festivals have submission fees of $10. Basically, bring your lunch to work for two days or stop buying Starbucks coffee for a week and you’re done! Other film festivals only accept certain genres like horror or slasher movies. Some free film festivals on the list are only free if you send in your film by the early or regular deadlines. My films have screened in FREE film festivals in the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada.

Go ahead, submit your film and report back here with updates in the comment section. It can’t hurt to add a few more festival laurels to your film!

Angelo’s List of Free Film Festivals.

1. Portobello Film Festival (United Kingdom) – http://www.portobellofilmfestival.com/

2. Wreck Beach Film Festival (Canada) – http://www.domecountry.com/

3. http://www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com/

4. http://www.enzedff.co.nz/ NZ Film Festival Trust (new Zealand)

5. African Diaspora Film Festival – http://nyadiff.org/

6. http://www.tromadance.com/

7. http://www.salemfilmfestival.com/2011/index.html

8. http://2011.noisepop.com/contact

9. http://www.freerangefilm.com/submission.html (almost free $10)

10. http://www.greatriverfilmfestival.com/submit.html

11. http://www.lidf.co.uk/ docs only

12. http://flywayfilmfestival.org/

13. http://www.loisaidacortos.com/ Latino-themed films

14. http://www.filmlinc.com/pages/new-york-film-festival

15. http://www.anightmaretoremember.com/home.html horror

16. http://www.sansevieria.net/filmfestival/

17. Arizona State University Art Museum Film Festival – http://asuartmuseum.asu.edu/filmfest/index.php (shorts 10 mins or less)

18. Calgary International Film Festival (Canada) – http://www.calgaryfilm.com/

19. http://www.marbellafilmfestival.com/ (only Early Bird submissions are FREE)

20. http://www.trinidadandtobagofilmfestival.com/ (free if mailed, $10 via WAB)

21. http://www.regentparkfilmfestival.com/ (Toronto)

22. http://www.cornwallfilmfestival.com/ (early submission is free)

23. BFI London Film Festival – http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/

24. http://rooftopfilms.com/ (not free but super cheap, even the late submissions)

25. http://www.killerfilmfest.com/ – horror only

26. http://lightscamerahelp.org/entry Nonprofilt Film Festival

27. Strasbourg International Film Festival (France) – http://strasbourgfilmfest.com/submissions.html

28. http://festival.oneforestfilms.com/

29. http://encounters-festival.org.uk small fee

30. London Underground Film Festival – http://www.londonundergroundfilmfestival.org.uk/

31. Toronto Urban Film Festival – http://www.torontourbanfilmfestival.com/submit

32. Monument Valley Film Festival – http://www.monumentvalleyfilmfest.com/

Good luck!