Lights, Camera, Travel - Directs Film Buffs to Budget-Friendly Film Fests Across North America

Get full access to these film festivals without breaking the bank

TORONTO, Aug. 30, 2017 /CNW/ -- As Toronto gets set to host the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, sandwiched between film fests in Venice and New York, A-listers are going to have their fill on travel and entertainment in the coming weeks. But what about the everyday movie fan? There's a line-up of great film fests with fun themes, cool locales and affordable prices where the all-access, jet-setting experience awaits for a fraction of a big-event budget. The travel experts at have compiled their picks for Fest for less: 11 top budget-friendly film festivals worth the trip where movie lovers can revel in the festival experience (and destination) with full access passes for under US$500. Film buffs get ready to take your love of film to the next level.

While the fall is packed with film festivals, there are plenty of travel-worthy options throughout the year. To help those who need a little advanced planning time, below are 5 film festivals for our list to put in your calendar for 2018:

  • Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, U.S. - Jan. 18-25, 2018 - Skip the costs and crowds of Sundance and head to the other film festival happening in Park City, UT, this January. Slamdance Film Festival runs from Jan. 18-25 and its name is no coincidence. The festival was started by a group of innovative filmmakers who weren't accepted into Sundance. Instead, they started their own festival, which favours unique and eclectic independent films (and even includes television pilots and music videos). All-access passes to the fest are around US$350, or about CA$440, and include all screenings, discussions, events and the closing night party. Compared with the US$3,000 or so price tag of Sundance, there's a lot to like about the approachable, inclusive nature of Slamdance.
  • Florida Film Festival, Maitland, Florida, U.S. - April 6-15, 2018 - The Florida Film Festival is the perfect opportunity to experience an Oscar®-qualifying festival for less. Purchase the "Binge" pass for US$325, or about CA$410, to gain access to all regular film screenings over the entire run of the festival (taking place from April 6-15, 2018). Tickets can also be purchased individually for US$9 to US$11, about CA$11 to CA$14, per film. With films ranging from features to shorts, independent to international, and including more than 20 world premieres, FFF is a great festival for first-timers and frequent festival-goers alike. When you need a break from the (lights, camera) action, Eden Bar at the Enzian theatre, where many of the screenings take place, offers an enjoyable, laid-back ambiance and tasty hand-crafted cocktails. Since the festival takes place only 20 minutes from Orlando, you may want to pair your experience with a trip to Disney World, where you can keep the theme going with a stop at Hollywood Studios.
  • Calgary Underground Film Festival, Calgary, Alberta - April 16-22, 2018 - If you're looking for something a bit different, head to the Calgary Underground Film Festival (taking place next year April 16-22). With local and international independent films on its roster, the goal of the festival is to showcase films that think a bit outside the box. The 2017 festival offered up CA$120 festival passes, around CA$99 if you purchased early, which includes access to all CUFF screenings and 2 drink tickets. While in Calgary, take some time to further explore the city's eclectic art scene with a number of museums and galleries on offer.
  • San Francisco Silent Film Festival, San Francisco, California, U.S. - May 30-June 3, 2018 - Cut through the noise with a trip to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Enjoy 5 days of silent era films set to live music. Last year, festival passes were available for US$260, or about CA$330, with tickets to individual shows around US$16 or CA$20. The 2018 festival runs from May 30-June 3. The festival fittingly takes place at the historic Castro Theatre, which was built in 1922 and is an ideal venue to pay homage to the films of the teens and 20s. The SFSFF is a film lover's paradise, featuring everything from well-known films to more obscure titles to recent restorations (the 2017 festival screened 23 minutes of footage from a once-thought-to-be-lost Louise Brooks film "Now We're in the Air" discovered in 2016). The San Francisco locale makes the experience all the more enticing. Be sure to build time into your trip to explore the city — from selfies in front of the Golden Gate Bridge to exploring the city's many unique neighbourhoods.
  • Sidewalk Film Festival, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. - Aug. 20-26, 2018 - The last weekend of August brings the Sidewalk Film Festival to Birmingham, AL. Think 250 films shown over the course of one weekend. VIP passes for this year's festival were US$285, about CA$360, with discounts if you purchased early. VIP passes include access to all films and festival-related events, including after parties and access to the VIP lounge. The festival takes place across 10 venues, including the historic 1927 Alabama movie palace, and all venues are within walking distance, making the festival a great way to experience the charm of Birmingham between films.

If you are itching to get to a film festival sooner, we also have 6 options on our list taking place from now through October: Montreal World Film Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Aug. 24-Sept. 4; Ottawa International Animation Festival, Ottawa, Ontario, Sept. 20-24; Fantastic Fest Austin, Austin, Texas, Sept. 21-28; Screamfest LA, Los Angeles, California, Oct. 10-19; New Orleans Film Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana, Oct. 11-19; and Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct.18-22. To read all the details on these and see's complete "Fest for less: 11 top budget-friendly film festivals worth the trip," visit 

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