These 15 film festivals deliver quality films to your city’s doorstep. Ranging from films focusing on the great outdoors, women, human rights issues, children to homelessness, these film festivals are in the driver’s seat of today’s film festival touring market. These festivals help filmmakers circulate films to communities who might not have had the opportunity to see them otherwise, presenting towns with globally celebrated cinematic creations.
The Gadabout Traveling Film Festival celebrated 12 years this spring, with a “Speechless,” a program of short films without dialogue. The “Speechless” Tour, traveled around the E.U., and the U.S. this spring, summer and fall. Gadabout started in 2002, born of the idea to create a film festival that “operates more like a DIY punk band, an alternative to the money focused, commercial film festivals.” In the past 12 years Gadabout has screened short films in 45 states, 8 countries and over 100 cities. This traveling film fest also hosts a monthly “Instant Gratification Movie Challenge,” where filmmakers make a film matching a specific theme each month. Gadabout was created by musician and filmmaker Eric Ayotte.
In 1964, Ann Arbor Film Festival started screening their films in Paris, Los Angeles and Berkeley. In the time since, the Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour “has presented hundreds of influential works, including films by Barbara Hammer, Gus Van Sant, Sally Cruikshank, Don Hertzfeldt, Bill Brown, Ross McLaren, Paul Winkler, James Duesing, Martha Colburn and Jay Rosenblatt.” The festival is currently on tour now, making stops at “galleries, art house theaters, universities, media arts centers and cinematheques throughout the world.” Celebrating 52 years this year, the festival also pays each filmmaker participating in the tour, for each tour stop, directly helping them with their filmmaking career.
This film festival, Does. Not. Stop. Mountainfilm is on the worldwide road year-round, presenting to “schools, colleges, corporations community groups and theater operators.” The Mountain Film Tour takes the best shorts from their annual festival, Mountain Film in Telluride, and screens them for an audience of some 40,000 people a year, stopping in over 100 towns and cities on five continents. Check out Mountainfilm’s upcoming tour dates.
Established by the Luna nutrition bar for women, in 2000, LUNAFEST “connects women, their stories and their causes through film.” The films at LUNAFEST are funny, inspiring and intelligent, and are used as a fundraiser for nonprofits in their hosting communities. Since its inception, LUNAFEST has screened in 150 towns and cities across North America, featuring 110 filmmakers and raising almost $1.9 million dollars.
Exploration, adventure, culture, environment and mountain sports– this is the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. A collection of the best films go on tour immediately after the festival ends in November, stopping in Canada, the U.S., and “internationally from Scotland to South Africa to China, Lebanon, Chile, New Zealand, Antarctica, and points in between.” The Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour visits 40 countries, reaches over 390,000 people at over 840 screenings each year, bringing a bit of outdoor adventure everywhere they visit.
Still hungry for some outdoor adventure films? Then check out The European Outdoor Film Tour. In the last 13 years, this high energy fest, hosted by Mammut and Gore-Tex, has collected over 100 adrenalin packed features to screen to audiences around mainland Europe and beyond. To get a list of arguably the best outdoor and adventure films, take a look at The European Outdoor Film Tour’s Program.
The Human Rights Watch Traveling Festival brings awareness of human suffering to an audience of 13 American cities and eight other cities around the world. The festival “brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.” The traveling festival’s line-up of 10 feature films, put an emphasis on both “artistic merit” and “human rights content.”
Running at the same time as the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Shorts Tour, travels around the U.S. to give those who didn’t have the opportunity to go to Parks City, the chance to see their past year’s acclaimed shorts program. Sundance runs an animated shorts tour, and a tour featuring narrative and documentary shorts. The Sundance Shorts Tour “has been widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launchpad for careers of many now-prominent independent filmmakers.”
The Sprout Film Festival is a one of a kind festival. While focusing “exclusively on films that celebrate the diverse lives and creativity of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” the festival aims to “challenge assumptions and breakdown stereotypes… inspire audiences, promote inclusion and support transformative filmmaking as an integral part of social change.” The Sprout Film Festival’s logo is “Make the invisible visible,” which they achieve by enabling communities to “custom design a local film festival of films related to the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Canada’s premier youth film festival, Reel Youth, exhibits their quality films to cities around Canada and the world, while also screening twenty-five percent of locally made films from every community on their tour. Reel Youth also works with international schools in Vietnam, Nepal, India and Morocco to “deepen schools and youth serving organizations ability to use digital media in a meaningful and skilled way.”
The Homeless Film Festival tour is the first film festival that is dedicated to addressing issues of homelessness. The tour travels to communities around the U.K., screening films from around the world, whose central themes are homeless issues. Homeless Film Festival also engages with homeless people and charities to tackle homelessness, offering “homeless project participants… the opportunity to take part in free filmmaking and art projects all year round, where they develop skills in script writing, camera operating, editing and festival programming.”
Presenting the best of animation, live action and experimental film from the largest children’s film festival in North America, The best of New York International Children’s Film Festival Tour, visits cities around the U.S. to give even more children the opportunity to see their globally acclaimed films. The Best of NY Int’l Children’s Film Festival Tour “allows venues to either supplement their regular kids’ programming with exciting new alternative content, or create their own miniature children’s film festival.”
Presented by Rapid Media, the Reel Paddling Film Festival “inspires more people to explore rivers, lakes and oceans,” by presenting the “world’s best paddling films,” to audiences around the world. The touring festival begins as a film competition, selecting the winning films to tour to over 100 cities around the world to an audience of more than 30,000 outdoor enthusiasts.
This festival is less of a touring film fest, than it is a collection of international festivals that calls London, Liverpool, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Amsterdam home. Lift-Off Film Festivals provide “free workshops to all local universities and college film and acting departments – tutoring on the importance of direction, story structure and tips on crowd funding, marketing and budget control.” And like The Audience Awards, all of their winners are chosen by the audience, holding true to their motto “Look beyond the gloss. Put talent before technology.”
The Audience Awards is film’s social network connecting audiences to films, filmmakers, film schools and film festivals. The Audience Awards hosts short film competitions where the audience chooses the best films.