When I wrote my first list of the “Top 12 Black Film Festivals” in 2008 for eZineArticles, I had no idea that nearly 15 years later, it would emerge as the most-referenced and borrowed-from definitive list of Black film festivals. By popular demand, I have updated the original list with a fresh take on the “12 Best Black Film Festivals for Independent Filmmakers” in 2023.
After authoring the original “12 Best Black Film Festivals” list, I took the time to do what that list did for emerging independent Black filmmakers of color and canonize the best and most important opportunities for emerging independent Latino filmmakers of color by creating the definitive list of “15 Best Latino Film Festivals in the United States for Emerging Independent Filmmakers.”
Every festival has its own personality. If you can’t differentiate personalities between festivals, you’re not digging deep enough. You definitely want everything that you are using in your body of work to promote yourself to have an accolade for each project. A festival win, place, show, or screening, no matter the size, are all equally persuasive ways to provide third-party validation for your work.
Finding funding for documentaries is much healthier than finding funding for narrative works. There are many special interests groups, organizations, fiscal sponsors, and grants available for documentaries, but be aware that they are very competitive. In a competitive playing field, preparation plus perseverance, can sometimes tip the hat in your favor.
Your skills as a filmmaker are broader than you think. They are a launching board toward direct and indirect career paths that you have yet to imagine. Here’s a list of websites where you may explore career possibilities for filmmakers.
I strongly recommend producing in order to fast track the production your ideas and have greater creative input to final project. Selling a project in the can [already produced] is called an acquisition. The name of the exec at each respective company is called an acquisitions executive. An acquisition could be an outright purchase–they now own it and can do whatever they want with it–or licensing your rights.