10 film festivals in the United States to check out this winter

When it’s cold outside, nothing beats staying inside with a good movie. Why not make the experience even better by checking out one of these United States film festivals this winter?

Sundance Film Festival
Park City, Utah

The Sundance Film Festival began in 1978 and is now the biggest film festival in the country. This year, the event will take place from January 19-29, 2012, presenting new work from independent filmmakers from around the globe. Program categories in the competition include U.S. Documentary, U.S. Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, Shorts, and Animations. There are also non-competitive categories, which include:

  • Premiers- Some of the most highly anticipated films of the year shown before they hit theaters
  • Documentary Premiers- Powerful new films covering big topics or by master filmmakers
  • Spotlight- A showcase of films that have already been successful at other film festivals around the globe
  • NEXT- These films are hard to categorize and their creativity stretches the limited resources of the filmmaker
  • New Frontier- With a focus on experimentation, these films bring together film, art, and new media technology
  • Park City at Midnight- For hardcore film enthusiasts who don’t even notice they’ve stayed up all night watching movies
  • From the Collection- Indie films from the vault of the Sundance Collection at UCLA

For ticket information, click here.Palm Springs International Film Festival
Palm Springs, California

The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which will take place January 5-16, 2012, is well-known for showing the most foreign Oscar nominees as well as for having A-list celebrities in attendance. Featuring more than 200 films from over 60 countries, special events, gala receptions, and a black tie awards party are all part of the fun. And, big name stars like George Clooney, Glenn Close, and Michelle Williams will all be receiving awards.

For ticket information, click here.

Cinema on the Bayou
Lafayette, Louisiana

The 7th annual Cinema on the Bayou will take place January 25-29, 2012. In their mission statement, it states that the festival is “committed to advancing the understanding of Cajun and Creole cultures through film screenings, film panels and cultural exchanges among French Louisiana, the United States and the Francophone countries of the world”. Attendees will get the chance to sample delicious Cajun cuisine and listen to local music while watching new and innovative fiction and non-fiction films from around the globe.

While the festival is free to attend, donations are appreciated.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Santa Barbara, California

The 27th annual Santa Barbara Film Festival will take place January 26-February 5, 2012. This event is known for being able to pick out Academy Award Winners, and will feature award ceremonies, black tie galas, celebrity tributes, and more.

For ticket information, click here. For information on passes, click here.

Trail Dance Film Festival
Duncan, Oklahoma

The 6th annual Trail Dance Film Festival will take place January 27-28, 2012. An open-genre contest for independent filmmakers, the aim of the event is nurture creativity and ingenuity. Panels of film professionals, live entertainment, and vendors will also be part of the event, which will take place at Simmons Center and Chisholm Trail Heritage Center. On Thursday, the festival gets things going with a “Where the Beer and Buffalo Foam” Kickoff Party which will be followed by film screenings on Friday and Saturday. Award ceremonies and an After Party will take place on Saturday evening.

For ticket information, click here.

Portland International Film Festival
Portland, Oregon

The 35th annual Portland International Film Festival will take place February 9-25, 2012. This festival draws more than 35,000 attendees and showcases over 100 international shorts and feature films. Attend parties and chat with the artists while viewing some of the best indepdent films ever created.

For ticket information, click here.

Thin Line Film Festival
Denton, Texas

The 5th annual Thin Line Film Festival will take place February 15-20, 2012. This festival aims to showcase a variety of compelling and creative documentaries that are high quality and relavent. Expect dozens of films from around the world educating about important issues and causes in a vibrant and historical setting.

For ticket information, click here.

Boulder International Film Festival
Boulder, Colorado

The 8th annual Boulder International Film Festival will take place February 16-19, 2012. This festival is renowned for showcasing undiscovered shorts, feature films, and documentaries that tend to go on and do well in theaters (many have even received Oscar nominations). Guests can expect a big turnout, as well. In fact, in 2010, the festival had over 16,000 attendees.

For ticket information, click here.

Sedona International Film Festival
Sedona, Arizona

The 18th annual Sedona International Film Festival will take place this winter from February 18-26, 2012. Attendees will get the chance to see over 145 independent films including features, shorts, foreign films, documentaries, student films, animation, and more. For those who don’t want to just watch film but learn more about the craft, free workshops are offered to everyone regardless of skill level.

For ticket information, click here.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
Chilmark, Massachusetts

The 12th annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival will take place March 16-18, 2012. On their website it states that the mission of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is “to produce community events that celebrate all genres of film and spark discussion, debate and action”. After spending his childhood watching television that gave no real contribution to society, film festival Founder and Artistic Director Thomas Bena decided to create a movement of new ideas and inspiration. For those who don’t want to wait until March for the festival, there is also a Winter Film Series on the first Saturday of each month that includes:

  • 5PM: Dinner and snacks followed by short films for children
  • 6:30PM: Live music and community dinner cooked using fresh, local ingredients
  • 7:30PM: Feature film

For ticket information, click here.