OCTOBER 18 – 22, 2023

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A Lesson from the Oscars: Film Festivals Are a Big Deal

It’s true we’re unabashed fans of the Oscars and – love them or not – they bring global attention to our art form. What do the Oscars and the San Diego Film Festival have in common? It was definitely an independent film kind of year and we’re seeing a trend.

From Variety: Film Festivals are a big deal.

This year it was unanimous: All eight best-pic contenders had debuted at a festival. For the past five years, it was 60%-80% of the top contenders. But in the decade since the Oscar ceremony shifted its date a month earlier, festival platforms are increasingly valuable. “Boyhood” and “Whiplash” bowed at the January 2014 Sundance; the other best-pic contenders bowed at various fests (Cannes, New York, etc.) culminating in the Nov. 11 launches of “American Sniper” and “Selma” at the AFI Fest (an increasingly important strategic option). Fests offer a high-profile launch in terms of global press and, crucially, can start the want-to-see buzz among industry voters.

Seven out of the eight movies nominated for the Academy’s Best Picture came from indie budgets ($20 million and under). Two of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, “Whiplash” and “The Imitation Game” — screened at the 2014 San Diego Film Festival and carried 4 Oscar wins and 9 Oscar nominations combined. (Other San Diego Film Festival selections with Oscars nominations this year included “Wild”, “Mr. Turner”, “Pride”, “St. Vincent” and the animated short “The Dam Keeper.”)

Your support of the San Diego Film Festival is vital and making a difference in independent film… all the way to the Oscars.