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Film Festivals in The United States

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/6/2011

Film festivals in the United States usually cater to independent filmmakers. This article focuses on three of the most successful film fests in the US: the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival.

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    Introduction Being the acknowledged capital of world entertainment, the United States is also host to numerous film festivals. Film festivals in the United States usually cater to independent filmmakers hoping to get the much needed exposure and break for mainstream acceptance. There are lots of film festivals in the US targeting different genres and markets. This article looks at three of the most influential, well-participated in and established film festivals in the United States today.

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    Sundance Film Festival

    Perhaps the most popular of the modern film festivals, the Sundance Film Festival is a magnet for top film executives, Hollywood actors and actresses. Many of the big name independent filmmakers all got their big break after joining the film festival, such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Edward Burns. The film festival also brought to the general movie going public such classics like Saw, The Blair Witch Project, Super Troopers, Napoleon Dynamite, and Little Miss Sunshine. It is held annually every January in Salt Lake City. It has competitive categories for both American and foreign filmmakers with genres for documentary films, feature films, and short films, as well as non-competition categories.

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    Seattle International Film Festival

    The Seattle International Film Festival is held annually in Seattle, Washington. Considered as one of the well-attended film festivals in North America, the SIFF is held for three weeks in the months of May and June. It features a wide range of independent films, documentaries, and foreign films. The SIFF was instituted in 1976 by Dan Ireland and Darryl McDonald. In the ‘80s, the film festival was known for exhibiting films which were accepted by industry standards. It also played a pivotal role in the introduction of Dutch movies into the US market. The film festival also hands out awards for best film, best short, best documentary, best actor, best actress, and best director.

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    Nashville Film Festival

    The Nashville Film Festival is one of the oldest film festivals in the United States. Established in 1969, the Nashville Film Festival features narrative films, short films, documentaries cutting across different genres such as comedy, drama, animation, and experimental. The film festival was first hosted by East Tennessee but has since moved to Nashville.

    The film festival is also one of the most prestigious, receiving thousands of entries every year from virtually all points of the globe. In 2009, the film festival had almost 2,000 entries from more than 80 countries, exhibiting close to 300 films and attended by more than 20,000 individuals. The film festival usually runs to 8 days and also hosts industry panels, parties and receptions, filmmaking workshops and music showcases since Nashville is also known as the Music City.

    The film festival hands out recognition to the best documentary feature, best narrative feature, best music video, best narrative short, best animated short, best documentary short, and best experimental short. Like most film festivals in the United States, the Nashville Film Festival has generated a lot of buzz and attention from industry experts and the movie going public.

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