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Film Festival High Season is Upon Us

Action blockbusters and animated films for kids dominate the box office all year round, making the summer season a year-round thing at your local multiplex. But as summer winds down, cinefilia's high season heats up. The last quarter of the year brings a cornucopia of film festivals, full of titles that will define fall and winter programming and Oscar nominations. It is fun to follow up on the premiere announcements. You can geek out by keeping a scorecard of who got that long-awaited movie by your favorite filmmaker. If you are a movie fan, the show is about to begin. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, the game is pretty much over. If anything, you must start working for next year.

You are playing the long game, but that does not mean you do not have to keep an eye on the calendar and the clock. We compiled a rundown of references from ten of the largest Festivals to keep in mind if you want to submit your movie to the 2023-2024 season. Most dates are merely references from the 2022 edition and may be subject to changes. Check frequently the official websites, and sign up for newsletters if available.

You have to look closely at the fine print of their rules and conditions. Some do not require a world premiere for shorts, which means you can apply to more than one. Also, subscription fees can add up. Include a Film Festival Application fees item in your distribution budget so you don't end up paying out of your own pocket.

Of course, nobody makes a movie to get it in a Film Festival. They do it because they want to, because they must. Because they are artists, and this is the way they express themselves. I guess if you are at Popflick, you are one of them. Still, it would be disingenuous to play down the importance of these events. You can find professional representation for you as a filmmaker, distribution for your work, financing for future projects. Even if you do not score a prize, it can lead to crucial developments in your career.

Time is of the essence, but even if you are still just playing with ideas in your head and scrambling for funds, let this list be a reference in your plan.

Toronto Film Festival

The largest film festival in North America is sought after by the big Hollywood studios to showcase their Oscar hopefuls. That accounts for heavy industry presence, which may benefit you if you make a good impression on the right people. The event takes 11 days in early September. The 47th edition will run from September 8 to the 18. The submission period for shorts starts on February 24 and ends on May 12. Canadian productions get in at a discounted price. The fee for international submissions is $65 if you apply by the early bird date of March 25. It goes up to $95 if you take longer, all the way to the deadline of May 13. Shorts must be 40 minutes long or less. Fiction and documentaries can apply. They request North American premieres, so your movie should not have had any public presentation in Canada or the United States. No problem if you show it in Mexico or the Caribbean.

More information at <https://www.tiff.net>

Telluride Film Festival

Every Labor Day weekend, a little mountain village in Colorado becomes the epicenter of American independent cinema. The Telluride Film Festival gathers hundreds of submissions, and about 25 shorts and 30 feature-length films make it into the four-day event. Submission dates run from April 15 to July 1. Any movie less than 59 minutes long is considered a short film. Fees escalate according to running time: 40-59 minutes, $85; 20-39 minutes, $65; 19 minutes or less will set you back $45. Student films of any length get a discount rate of $35. They do not require premiere status for shorts but are very specific about asking that they are not released online before the festival premiere.

More information at <https://www.telluridefilmfestival.org>

New York Film Festival 

From the Astoria studios of the silent film era to the thriving cinephilia that runs through its many art house cinemas, New York rivals Los Angeles in the competition for the title of Film Capital of the United States. This year, Film at Lincoln Center hosts the 60th edition of the New York Film Festival, from September 30 to October 16. Their Short program submission window ran from March 28 to June 3. They should be shorter than 40 minutes to qualify. The entry fee is $45.00.

To be eligible, it must not have had a New York Premier, physically or online.

The NYFF is a non-competitive festival, so you can hold off on preparing a speech. Everybody is a winner once you make it into the selection. 

More information at <https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2022/>

Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival

Get some surefire industry exposure at the LA Shorts International Film Festival, which takes place in the summer. This year, it ran from July 21 - July 28. They call themselves international not just because they accept films from any country. Foreign official organizations acknowledge them as a partner: the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (ACCT), and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences of Spain, which every year organizes the Goya Awards. A famous one from Hollywood could not be left behind. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Hollywood vouches for L.A. Shorts. Make it into the program, and your work can qualify for an Oscar nomination. Sixty-five shorts programmed along the 28 years have earned Oscar nominations, with 16 winning the statute.

Films should keep running time at less than 50 minutes to qualify. The call for entries opens in January and may extend to mid-April. The submission fee goes from the early bird special of $49 to $50.60 standard, $59.80 late, and $$64.00 extended. There is also a screenplay competition, which can become an effective port of entry for new talents. Do not confuse L.A. Shorts with the Los Angeles Short Film Festival! That is a whole different ball game.

More information at <https://www.lashortsfest.com>

Venice International Film Festival

The stars will take over the Lido in a few days for the 2022 edition of the event organized by the Biennale de Venezia, but next year will have some extra historical heft. The Venice International Film Festival will celebrate its 80th edition, and you can be part of one of the most glamorous movie events in the world. Short film submissions usually open in early February and run until mid-June 17. The early Submission fee is 70 euros. If you submit after May 30, the submission fee rises to 80 euros. Your movie needs to run for less than 60 minutes to qualify as a short. That length stretches the definition of the word almost to the breaking point (see Cannes for the opposite extreme!). All films have to be world premieres, including shorts. So put off that free screening at your school!

More information at <https://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/2022>

Sundance Film Festival

Everybody wants to get into Sundance, and it is easy to see why. It served as a trampoline for talents like Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino. Director and screenwriter Nicole Holofcener debuted her short, Angry, back in 1991. Submissions are now open for the 2023 edition. The last day to apply is September 5. The fee increases according to timeliness: The early application of $45 ran until August 1. August 19 is the deadline for official submission, with the fee at $65. Late submission runs until September 5, and will set you back $85. Running time must be less than 50 minutes, including credits. No premiere requirements for shorts, so you can spread the love through other venues.

The 2023 fest will take place from January 19 to 29, 2023. Start booking that flight!

More information at <https://www.sundance.org>

Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlinale is the dangerous bad boy out of the big three European film festivals. The 2023 edition will take place between February 16 to the 26. It is the dead of winter, but the event generates considerable heat. We are very close to the opening of the submission window, which usually takes place between mid-September and mid-November. The fee is 75 euros. Only 30 shorts make it into the official selection. The running time must be 30 minutes, including credits. 

They aim for World Premiers, but "a presentation in the country of origin will be tolerated" says the Berlinale website, which must be one of the most German things I have ever read. Do comply, please!

More information at <https://www.berlinale.de>

Festival De Cannes 

You could make an argument to support the idea that Cannes is the top film festival in the world. The requirements to submit a film to their shorts competition look surprisingly inviting. You do not have to pay a submission fee for shorts! They have to be shorter than 15 minutes! But then again, this is Cannes. Competition is fierce. The 2022 competition received 3,507 entries from 140 countries. Only 9 made it into the final selection. Perhaps to provide some comfort, they founded the Short Film Corner. It is a sort of industry showcase that puts you in Cannes but outside of the Official Competition. You get bragging rights but no shot at a Palm.

The deadline for applications usually is set for early march. The upcoming edition will take place from May 17 to 27, 2023.

More information at <https://www.cannescourtmetrage.com/en/>

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