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  • Feature: Spectacular Summer Film Fests

    Mon, 18 May 2009 11:35:46

    Feature: Spectacular Summer Film Fests - A guide to homegrown film festivals worth checking out this summer

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    If sequel mania and action overload has worn you thin, film festivals offer an antidote to the big budget blockbusters that trounce theaters during summertime. When it comes to film festivals, we know about the usual suspects: There’s Tribeca, Sundance, and South by Southwest, to name a few. In the summer, many critics look to Europe to enjoy the fruits of international auteurs, but some of the most unique festivals can be found Stateside. As an homage to the homeland, we present this list of American film festivals that are worth checking out as the weather starts to sizzle.

    Seattle International Film Festival

    The Place: Seattle, Washington

    The Dates: May 21-June 14

    The Deal: With nearly an entire month of movies, the Seattle International Film Festival presents one of the longest film series in the U.S. Featuring worldwide documentaries, short films, animation, and more, the series unveils the newest efforts by foreign and domestic filmmakers. In addition, the SIFF has an ace in the hole: a scavenger hunt! Eat that, Cannes.


    Brooklyn International Film Festival

    The Place: Brooklyn, NY

    The Dates: June 5-14

    The Deal: Contrary to what Robert De Niro may lead us to believe, Manhattan isn’t New York City’s only repository for cutting edge films. The Brooklyn International Film Festival, now in its 12th year, showcases the works of underdogs and future stars in the borough that’s much more than just a hipster haven.



    The Place: Vegas, baby

    The Dates: June 10-15

    The Deal: Las Vegas is a city on the edge, where party animals and cash-seeking opportunists collide in this desert locale-turned-money-throwing-Mecca. The Cinevegas Film Festival is no different, as established filmmakers moonlighting from Los Angeles and up-and-coming directors hope to hit the jackpot.



    The Place: Washington, D.C.

    The Dates: June 15-22

    The Deal: Truth can be stranger than fiction, but the AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival in Washington, D.C. highlights true stories that illuminate the activities of our communities and the world at large. The festival presents the finest in documentaries from around the globe and provides a world vision much more real than a mediascape dominated by “reality” television.


    Topanga Film Festival

    The Place: Topanga Canyon, CA

    The Dates: August 6-9

    The Deal: Located in a winding canyon just minutes north of Hollywood, Topanga Canyon is known for beautiful views, avant-hippie celebrity residents, and a film festival that highlights the finest in indie and experimental film. The homegrown festival started five years ago in founders Sara and Urs Baur’s backyard and has grown into an event that not only provides an idyllic backdrop for outsider cinema, but also celebrates the psychedelic spirit of the Topanga community.


    LA Shorts Fest

    The Place: Los Angeles

    The Dates: August 15-21

    The Deal: Short films offer the perfect remedy to the peripatetic viewing habits of Generation ADD. The LA Shorts Fest calls itself “fast food for the eyes,” and for some emerging directors, the festival can be a chance to fast track their careers. From experimental animation to creative commercials, this short film festival gives famous actors and directors a chance to push their craft to the limit in these movie haikus.


    Found Footage Festival

    The Place: On tour across North America

    The Dates: All summer long

    The Deal: Film festivals are all about showing great stuff, right? Well, not all of them. The Found Footage Festival takes pride in showing the most bizarre, hilarious, and slightly stupid videos discovered from around the world. From self-help vignettes to instructional videos such as “Inside and Outside Custodial Duties,” the touring festival will undoubtedly shock, embarrass, and amuse select American cities with the absurdity of the mundane.


    —Drew Tewksbury

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