With so many incredible film festivals in the United States alone, it’s a real conundrum to figure out where to enter. You have many variables to consider, including travel stipends, prizes, audiences, networking opportunities and industry attendance.
But there’s an X factor you shouldn’t forget: Sometimes a film festival can also be a vacation. Local communities certainly view film festivals as tourism, and maybe you should, too. MovieMaker tapped filmmaker surveys, traveler reviews, and in-person visits to evaluate what film festivals are especially worth the travel.
Yes, you’ll remember the networking, the great Q&A about your film, the awards. These things are very important. But there’s also something to be said for eating a real California burrito in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Location: San Diego, California
Dates: October 18-22, 2023
Must-see attractions for movie lovers: There’s plenty of options if you feel the need to speed over to some of the locations from Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick. They include the Kansas City Barbeque, where the “Great Balls of Fire” scene was filmed
Camera-worthy setting: For expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and sandstone cliffs, visit Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
For more than popcorn: Save room for a California burrito from one of the dozens of excellent spots in the area, including Lucha Libre and Rigoberto’s.
What filmmakers say: “My team had a great time in San Diego! It definitely exceeded our expectations in terms of audience turnout and hospitality. I’d say the people at the festival were my favorite part; the programmers and volunteers were all so warm and friendly. They made us feel welcome instantly and comfortable to mingle and to enjoy the festival to the fullest. They tried their best to listen to all our requests and were incredibly accommodating in every aspect. Highly recommend this festival to all filmmakers who want to enjoy a wonderful week of films and great weather in a beautiful city, with very cool people from all around the world.” —Director Christine Ko (The Woman in the White Car) on FilmFreeway