The LFC Guide to Summer Film Festivals in New England

With the summer in full swing and record temperatures blanketing the Northeast, we decided it might be a really neat idea to give everyone an overview of all the fantastic film festivals that are on the horizon here in New England. After all, no one wants to get sunstroke or severely dehydrated after being in triple-digit temperatures for too long. Why not beat the heat in a nice air-conditioned theater watching a marathon of brand new independent and/or foreign films? It works for us!

So, without further adieu, the Lowell Film Collaborative presents you with a list of summer(ish) film festivals that take place in or around Massachusetts, and best of all, they’re in date order, so you can plan accordingly. Enjoy, folks!

July 8-28, 2010
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Yes, Montreal is a 5+ hour drive, but the LFC took in a weekend at the Fantasia Fest last summer, and we feel it is absolutely worth the drive, especially if you are a fan of genre films. First started in 1996 as an Asian cinema and anime festival, Fantasia soon expanded its focus to include genre films from all over the world. Now spanning most of the month of July, it often includes many North American premieres of films (including last year’s Inglorious Basterds). Another awesome component is Fantasia Under the Stars, a series of outdoor films screened as part of the festival. This year’s program includes Subversive Serbia, a spotlight on the new wave of confrontational and edgy Serbian cinema, presentation of a lifetime achievement award for director Ken Russell, which includes a screening of his never-released-on-DVD 1971 cult film The Devils, and a multi-media gala event centered around the screening of the newly restored original cut of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Trust us on this one, folks – this is the fest to attend for the best in horror, exploitation and Asian films.

July 9-18, 2010
Waterville, Maine

Founded in 1998, the Maine International Film Festival is a project of the Maine Film Center. During the 10 days of the festival, close to 100 films are screened, many of them created by filmmakers in Maine and New England. In addition, the festival’s Fireflies Program offers children’s films from around the world as well as workshops and related arts events for children and teens. The 2010 festival highlights will include a Mid-Life Achievement Award to screenwriter Jay Cocks, who penned the screenplays for Kathryn Bigelow’s sci-fi epic Strange Days, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, and the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, among others; a special appearance by comedienne and Airplane! star Julie Hagerty; and a block of films screened as part of the American Film Institute’s 20/20 project, an initiative to bridge cultural boundaries through cinema. The LFC will be attending this festival for the first time in 2010, so keep an eye out for updates.

July 29-August 3, 2010
Roxbury, Massachusetts

Created in 1999 as the Dudley Film Festival, the Roxbury International Film Festival has become the primary outlet for enjoying independent films created by filmmakers of color that showcase their experiences. Since its inception, the festival has screened more than 450 films by or about people of color with a mission to support diverse filmmakers and provide an opportunity for audiences to view the works of these filmmakers and experience stories often overlooked in mainstream media.  The Roxbury International Film Festival takes place over 4 days, with workshops and film screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts College of Art, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall, and other locations throughout Boston. Some of you who attended the first Lowell Film Festival may remember that Roxbury Film Fest Executive Committee member Lisa Simmons was a part of our insightful panel of local film experts on day 2.

July 31-August 7, 2010
Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Officially the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands, the Woods Hole Film Festival is now in its eighteenth year and continues to bring the best in independent film to the quaint village of Woods Hole, Mass. Over eight days, the festival screens more than 100 films from around the world. The 2010 festival will include a screening of the Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up and Sing by 2010 Filmmaker in Residence Barbara Kopple, a screening of The Human Face of Climate Change, a documentary about people all over the world who have been displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters, and a screening of the feature comedy One Too Many Mornings. A PDF link to the 2010 schedule is here.

August 10-15, 2010
Providence, Rhode Island

Another favorite of the LFC, the Rhode Island International Film Festival is ranked as one of the top twelve film festivals in the United States. Now in its 14th year, the RIIF will screen between 175-200 films in 2010 selected from more than 4,000 submissions. One hundred percent of the festival schedule is created from these submissions, and no films are culled from other festivals, making the RIIF a truly dynamic event where regional audiences discover new film and new filmmakers whose work is often overlooked. This is truly an outstanding festival, and it’s only a short drive from anywhere in eastern Massachusetts. Don’t miss it!

September 9-12, 2010
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Combining the laid back beach style of Martha’s Vineyard with the buzz and excitement of celebrating films from across the globe, the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival is four days filled with the best feature and short films from top-notch festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Cannes, plus great evening events, provocative forums and live world music. The festival’s recurring theme is “Other Places,”  with the purpose of encouraging attendees to think broadly (about how huge the world of film is) and deeply (about the universal concerns and desires that unite all people). About 90% of all film selections are non-US productions, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film. Best of all, you can’t beat the outstanding beaches for what little “downtime” you might have.

September 24-26, 2010
Newburyport, Massachusetts

The Newburyport Documentary Film Festival is an annual event held in the beautiful coastal town that spotlights the newest and best documentary films from all over the world. It is presented by the Newburyport Film Society with screenings taking place throughout historic Newburyport, including The Screening Room and the Firehouse Center for the Arts.

September 24-26, 2010
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Held just up the coast from Newburyport and on the same weekend this year, Telluride by the Sea is another LFC favorite that brings a half-dozen films hand-picked from the Telluride festival in Colorado by organizer (and Portsmouth resident) Bill Pence and his wife to make their New England debuts at the Music Hall, sometimes well in advance of their actual cinema runs. These films are all world-class cinema gems and never disappoint. HIGHLY recommended!

September 29-October 3, 2009
Hudson Valley, NY

Yes, the Woodstock Film Festival is in New York, but the LFC visited Woodstock for New Year’s Eve this year, and we fell in love with the area, including the wonderful independent theater there called the Tinker Street Cinema. Due to its close proximity to NYC, the Woodstock festival attracts some really big names in the industry, including those on their advisory panel – actor/directors Ethan Hawke, Griffin Dunne, and Liev Schreiber, just to name a few. The LFC plans to attend, and perhaps volunteer, at the 2010 festival, so we’ll keep you posted as the date grows closer.

September 30-October 3, 2010
Camden, Maine

Now in its sixth year, the Camden International Film Festival is a documentary festival that selects films based on their ability to arouse discussion on documentary film as an art form, a catalyst for change and as an outlet for the independent voice. The festival takes place at multiple venues throughout three coastal towns in Maine, providing a unique setting to experience the very best in international documentary film. In addition to the film festivities, an important component of the festival is the Points North Forum, a conference program designed around key decision makers in the non-fiction business. Over the course of two special panel sessions, a workshop, several intimate networking sessions and a new live project pitching event, participants can watch and listen as industry experts share their observations and insights. This is a very unique event for filmmakers in New England.


Published by Lowell Film Collaborative

The Lowell Film Collaborative is a grassroots initiative in Lowell, MA, whose mission is to bring more cinematic awareness to the community.

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