2023 US Film Festivals: Networking, Showcasing, and Career Boosting Opportunities for Filmmakers

Top US Film Festivals 2023

Film festivals offer filmmakers the opportunity to network with industry professionals and showcase their work. Moreover, these events can be life-changing for an up-and-coming director or writer. They can help them find the right producer, distributor, or agent to take their career to the next level.

Sundance 2023 begins in Park City, Utah, with world-premiere feature films, shorts and episodic content. The lineup includes Oscar contenders Radical and Mapplethorpe.

New York Film Festival

The main slate features Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things starring Emma Stone, as well as Cannes titles like Anatomy of a Fall and La Chimera. Other highlights include Todd Haynes’ May December and the U.S. premiere of Image Book.

In this Spotlight selection, legendary poet Nikki Giovanni talks about her writing practices and her experiences transmuting her life into cinema. Free and open to the public.

Rhode Island International Film Festival

As one of the top festivals in the US, Rhode Island International Film Festival features various international works alongside artist homage and festivities. RIIFF is also an Academy Award qualifying Festival for Live Action, Animation and Documentary Shorts.

Featuring over 350 films, including multiple World and US/North American Premieres, RIIFF offers many in-person screening opportunities as well as panel events featuring leading industry professionals.

Hamptons International Film Festival

The Hamptons International Film Festival celebrates independent films – long and short, fiction and documentary. It exhibits films that express fresh voices and differing global perspectives in order to enlighten audiences and provide invaluable exposure for filmmakers.

This year’s event features the Closing Night screening of Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, a compelling narrative about Leonard Bernstein and his relationship with Felicia Montealegre Cohn. Other highlights include a New York premiere of Joanna Rudnick’s Story and Pictures By, which takes viewers behind the scenes to meet the artists who create children’s picture books.


Taking place August 10-20 around Hollywood, HollyShorts features Oscar qualifying short films in four categories. This year includes a new genre category and a short-to-feature development program from Hot Pot Productions and Bitpix TV.

Documentary highlights include Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s MINK!, narrated by Tom Hanks; OSCAR winner Rayka Zehtabchi’s They Came From All Over and Jordan Matthew Horowitz’s Forgiving Johnny.

Newport Beach Film Festival

The Newport Beach Film Festival features hundreds of films over eight days. It celebrates contemporary screen culture and cinematic excellence. It also aims to foster cultural understanding and educational opportunities. It features international cinema and highlights the passion, vision and independent spirit of filmmakers.

The event is held in Newport Beach, California. It features red carpet premieres, nightly events and compelling conversations with filmmakers.

Ann Arbor Film Festival

Founded in 1963, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for film as art, AAFF engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences.

AAFF features over one hundred films in juried competition programs. In addition to this, there are artist and filmmaker retrospectives and gallery installations.

UM Art & Design’s Mindstream Animation Station tours the community collecting visual stories and doodles to create a collective movie.

Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival features an impressive selection of competitive and non-competitive programming. From established masters to emerging storytellers, the Festival celebrates the power of cinema to foster cultural understanding and artistic engagement.

From the edgy to the tender, these bold films offer new artistic perspectives on sexuality and identity. They compete for the Festival’s Q Hugo Award.

Southwest Film Festival

SXSW is at the forefront of discovery, creativity and innovation in film. The festival draws press, filmmakers, industry leaders and die-hard fans.

It is known for playing work-in-progress screenings such as Michael Dowse’s Stuber which stars Kumail Nanjiani as a mild-mannered Uber driver who picks up a cop (Dave Bautista). It also screens the documentary Breakthrough which follows a harmonica-playing scientist on his quest to cure cancer.

Austin Film Festival

Named one of Moviemaker Magazine’s “Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” AFF celebrates storytellers who craft intricate worlds and fully-formed characters. AFF’s film competition and screenwriters conference are designed to propel filmmakers’ careers forward.

Films that have played in Austin in a theatrical setting to a public audience (excluding private invite-only screenings) are not eligible. This includes short films that have screened at other festivals or online through festival programs based in Austin.

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

Filmmakers are drawn to New Mexico’s picturesque landscapes, pristine skies, and unique culture. SFIFF showcases the latest in independent filmmaking and serves as a platform to connect filmmakers with audiences.

SFIFF was named one of MovieMaker’s “25 Coolest General Film Festivals on the Planet” in 2013. In 2023, the festival will feature a lineup that includes John Waters and Wes Studi. Events will be held at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Violet Crown Cinema, and the Center for Contemporary Arts.

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