9 Unique Film Festivals Worth Keeping An Eye On

Not every great movie gets a wide release with big marketing dollars behind it, and you won't always find the most interesting work on the major streaming services. To see films from new voices that touch on subject matter that isn't always explored by major companies, check out one of these festivals, all of which take their particular niche seriously and reward those doing exceptional work. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Film Festivals Showcasing Stunning Art

What Where When
Popcorn Frights Film Festival Fort Lauderdale, FL August, with year-round events
Washington DC South Asian Film Festival Rockville, MD September
Miami Jewish Film Festival Miami, FL January
EQUUS Film Festival Lexington, KY December
Aesthetica Short Film Festival York, UK November
London Feminist Film Festival London, UK Intermittent events throughout the country
British Urban Film Festival London, UK Summer
NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival New York, NY October
Viet Film Fest Orange County, CA October

Prepare for Scares at Popcorn Frights

Countries With The Largest Film Markets

As of 2018

Rank Country Box Office Revenue (billion US$)
1. United States 11.08
2. China 9.15
3. Japan 2.09
4. United Kingdom 1.72
5. South Korea 1.58
6. India 1.58
7. France 1.5
8. Germany 1.11
9. Russia 0.98
10. Australia 0.95

Youth Programs Supported by VAALA and the Viet Film Fest

Equipment That All Aspiring Filmmakers Should Own

The Winner of "Best Music Video" at the 2018 British Urban Film Festival Awards

In Depth

Film festivals perform some essential functions for the motion picture industry, and often provide both handsome profits and prestige to those who administer them. For those reasons, the world is awash with such events. Some distinguish themselves by premiering big name titles or acting as major market opportunities for distribution companies. Others take a more specialized approach, focusing on subject areas or communities underserved by competitors. This list, presented in no particular order, highlights some of the world's most unique film festivals.

Coming in at #1, it's Popcorn Frights Film Festival, established in 2015 by Miami locals Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman. Focused on international genre movies, it has quickly grown into the region's largest cinema event of its kind. It takes place every August at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale, a historic theater that was originally built in the 1940s as a Methodist church.

Altogether, recent editions of Popcorn Frights have premiered more than 100 titles from more than 20 countries. It has hosted a number of directors and actors, including Graham Skipper, Joe Lynch, and Lucky McKee. Festival screenings are covered by local media, like Miami New Times and South Florida Sun Sentinel, as well as national industry outlets such as Variety and Bloody Disgusting.

Festival screenings are covered by local media, like Miami New Times and South Florida Sun Sentinel, as well as national industry outlets such as Variety and Bloody Disgusting.

For #2, we've got the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival, showcasing the best in alternative cinema from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Alongside its curated program of features, documentaries, and shorts, the event makes room for exclusive media presentations, retrospectives, and special tributes. It takes place annually at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in the suburb of Rockville.

The event is sponsored by the DC South Asian Arts Council and Montgomery College. Each edition concludes with an awards ceremony, and features a selection of classes and workshops open to attendees. The proceedings are covered avidly by local and national press. It is made possible by an array of corporate sponsors, ranging from local restaurants to international airlines.

In the #3 position, the Miami Jewish Film Festival is rooted in a commitment to the community it serves. Founded in 1996, it aims to create greater social understanding, promote tolerance, and encourage artistic development and excellence by strengthening cultural identity through the arts, and by provoking thought through film. The festival occurs each January, with supplementary member events taking place year-round.

The festival occurs each January, with supplementary member events taking place year-round.

MJFF has hosted and introduced a diverse group of filmmakers including renowned stars and directors, among them Natalie Portman, Whit Stillman, Nancy Spielberg, and Bill Morrison. Over the course of its 13-day run, the festival screens an average of more than 100 movies, with guest appearances by more than 50 artists. Events include both international premieres of new films and retrospective presentations of classic works.

At #4, it's the Equus Film Festival, the world's premier showcase for domestic and international features, documentaries, and shorts that put the horse at center stage. Since 2013, it has screened hundreds of films. Initially based near Chicago, Illinois, the organization now makes its home in New York City, but its touring program and editions of the festival bring its events all over the country.

Sidebar programs spotlight horse literature, with books for children and adults, and equine art. Panels convene conversations with big-name equestrians, trainers, and filmmakers. In conjunction with Horse Network, Equus maintains an on-demand streaming platform that makes available videos for entertainment and education alike. The event is made possible by a wide array of sponsors, and it attracts press coverage from both generalist and industry media.

In conjunction with Horse Network, Equus maintains an on-demand streaming platform that makes available videos for entertainment and education alike.

#5: The Aesthetica Short Film Festival, founded in 2011, takes place annually in York, UK, at the beginning of November. It is a celebration of independent movies from around the world, and an outlet for supporting and championing filmmaking. Screenings constitute BAFTA-qualifying engagement, making titles eligible for the British film industry's highest honor.

From thousands of entries, the festival's curators select around 400 titles each year. The program also includes industry masterclasses, networking sessions, and panel discussions. All of the shorts included in the official selection are considered for a variety of awards, some chosen by a jury, some by festivalgoers. The event is sponsored by Aesthetica, one of the UK's leading publications for art, design and photography.

#6 on the list is The London Feminist Film Festival. Since 2012, it has celebrated feminist films past and present from international directors. Its goal is to support women filmmakers in the male-dominated film industry, to get women's stories out there, and to inspire discussion and activism. In addition the annual festival, LFFF holds one-off screenings throughout the year.

Its goal is to support women filmmakers in the male-dominated film industry, to get women's stories out there, and to inspire discussion and activism.

Each edition of the festival concludes with the presentation of awards, three of which are selected by a jury and one by audience votes. Panel discussions address women's cinema in different parts of the world and in relation to other issues. Group programs survey the work of particular directors or institutions. London Feminist Film Festival events have drawn media attention from an array of international outlets.

Coming in at #7, The British Urban Film Festival, formed in July 2005, showcases urban independent cinema, in order to counter a lack of state-sponsored activity in the country. The London-based organization was designed to mobilize and develop young, homegrown British urban talent in the film and television sector. The annual event is free and open to the general public, subsidized by filmmaker entry fees.

Each year, the festival includes an awards ceremony, presenting prizes for standout films, directors, writers, and performers, among other categories. There are also lifetime achievement honors awarded to accomplished Black British media veterans. In addition to the annual event, BUFF has, since its inception, been involved in television, both producing its own programs and distributing film titles for broadcast.

There are also lifetime achievement honors awarded to accomplished Black British media veterans.

The #8 slot is held by NewFest: The New York LGBTQ Film Festival. Presented by HBO, it features over 150 films, panels, and parties, and attracts over 13,000 attendees from around the globe every October. Since its first iteration in 1989, this annual celebration of the year's best queer film and media has become one of the most prominent such festivals in the world.

A major player in gay, lesbian, and transgender cinema, Newfest has presented significant works such as Carol, Paris is Burning, and Weekend. The organization also stages screenings and special events year-round, often in conjunction with partner institutions, including a regular three-day series for Pride ceremonies every June. It awards emerging LGBT storytellers through its New Voices Filmmaker Grant.

Closing out the list at #9, Viet Film Fest is the largest international Vietnamese film festival in the world, showcasing creative work by and about people from the Southeast Asian nation, or whose heritage lies there. The event was first staged in 2003, with sponsorship from the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association. It takes place every year in Orange County, California, which houses the largest such diaspora population in the country.

The event was first staged in 2003, with sponsorship from the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association.

Each edition of the festival presents short films and features, both fiction and documentary. The program is curated by a committee of activists, filmmakers, academics, youth organizers, and community members who try to select a very diverse program to reflect the range of Vietnamese voices and stories. A separate group of judges awards prizes to eligible films. There are also a range of special events and workshops on offer.