Film festivals celebrate and reward creativity, but getting your work into a big film festival like Sundance or Cannes can be tough for wannabe filmmakers. Luckily smaller festivals do exist, but even these can be prohibitively expensive to enter.
For many, online film festivals are a cheap and effective way of earning recognition and sharing the fruits of their creativity with an audience. These online-only affairs almost always offer their catalogue of films online, which is a win-win for audiences like you and me.
Here are five of the best online film festivals for filmmakers and cinema buffs alike.
An ecologically-themed film festival, 48 Go Green is a celebration of films that have a decidedly environmental twist. The clue’s in the name but this particular festival takes its cues from the 48 Hour Film Project in that all presentations must be conceived, shot and finished within a 48-hour period. On the basis of this restriction, the films are relatively short and to the point.
2013’s competition introduces “anytime participation” which means you can start, shoot and upload your film within a 48-hour period of your choice. The festival has embraced the web for its forward-thinking nature, removing boundaries like geographical location and the time involved in physically delivering a film on time. Entry to the competition is $150 per team, though if you register before April 20 you’ll get entry for just $90.
I’ve chosen two of last year’s winners, the post-apocalyptic drama Happy Days features two remaining survivors of a world that’s been destroyed by the human race and #Disconnected (above) a twisted tale of a heavily social media reliant society gone mad. 48 Go Green has disabled embedding of these films so I’ve had to link to Happy Days instead.
Watch: Happy Days
CON-CAN is a film festival started in Japan by IT company Media Research, Inc. with “CON” meaning “soul” and “CAN” representing an appreciative audience. The festival has been held every year since 2005, with each annual award ceremony held in Tokyo each year. Judges are chosen for their movie industry credentials, though there are audience awards for overall popularity too.
Each year the films submitted are put online for all to see, though free registration is mandatory in order to view these films. I’ve only been able to find a few of last year’s successes elsewhere online and its those I have embedded below.
La Nostalgia del Sr. Alambre, English tranlsation “Mr. Wire’s Nostalgia” is a short animation about a shadow puppeteer from Mexican director and animation artist Jonathan Ostos Yaber. It’s won a bounty of awards from around the world and was a runner-up in the 2012 CON-CAN festival. Also featured below is winner of the audience award for the first pool of films, In My Prison by Italian director Alessandro Grande which received a huge chunk of the total votes.
More than just an interesting name, The Disposable Film Festival is an homage to all devices that can take what is perceived as “disposable” film. From smartphones to point and shoots and even basic DSLRs, the point is to take a rather ordinary and no-frills device and put it to good use. The festival puts creativity before budget and equipment, a fact reflected in the measly $5 fee for submitting your film. Did I mention they have real prizes, too?
The 2013 competition is over, but you can still submit something next year. The festival will also be making its way around the world, despite being online (and thus accepting online-only submissions) so you might want to check the events page to find out if they’ll be visiting you any time soon. Just like every film festival should, the films submitted are publicly available to all who can reach Vimeo – no private videos, no registration required (take note, organisers).
This made it very easy for me to embed two of my favourites, starting with this year’s grand prize winner, Malaria (below).
Also featured below is Splitscreen, a runner up in 2012’s competition which uses some clever cinematography to tell a love story.
Short film is tough, much like writing a short story. Telling your tale in a limited timeframe is an art that many feature-length filmmakers have trouble with, but it’s always a good start for those considering a career in motion pictures. The Shortlist Short Film Festival might just be the sort of festival budding filmmakers should be aiming for, accepting all kinds of submissions from drama to documentary and animation.
Interestingly there’s an opportunity for some money to be made by entering your film, as my first choice from last year’s competition is a documentary called The Love Competition, the free trailer for which can be seen below. Stanford university’s MRI labs were used in an experiment which examines neurochemistry and love, and the full film can be seen on Vimeo for a small fee of $1.99.
And second of all following the same formula and price point is Fishing Without Nets, a short 17-minute long documentary about piracy off the coast of Somalia told from the point of view of the pirates. The trailer is embedded below, or if you think the film is worth $1.99 you can pay to watch it on Vimeo.
Have you ever submitted to a film festival? Enjoyed any of these featured films? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.