The film festival industry (or marketplace) is quite fragmented. Although many have heard of Sundance, Toronto, and/or San Francisco International, there are thousands of other film festivals known to only locals or enthusiasts. To get a flavor of the variety of festivals, check out festival databases such as http://www.filmfestivals.com/ and http://www.festivalfocus.org/.
Within the film festival marketplace, there are various specialized festivals that confine their offerings somehow: by film types, such as animated, shorts, short non-fiction, 1 minute, etc.; by subject matter, such as food, animals, a country or geography, etc. In San Francisco alone we can choose from over 20 film festivals including:
Worldwide, many festivals might be termed “environmental” film festivals – included would be the popular, well established, 17 day long Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. A relative newcomer is the San Francisco Green Film Festival, started in 2009 by the highly competent local cinephile, Rachel Caplan.
A growing niche is that of geography based festivals, such as mountain film festivals. While I don’t have a good count of mountain film festivals yet, they have their own association, the International Alliance for Mountain Film. From its website:
“The International Alliance for Mountain Film (IAMF) was instituted to promote, enhance and conserve mountain cinematography through communal projects that would flank or be incorporated into the regular institutional activities of the member bodies. Today the IAMF numbers 21 Members: 20 festivals of mountain film and a museum, which represent 16 countries of Europe, Asia, and North and South America.”
One of the IAMF members, the Banff Mountain Film Festival, served as a loose model at the founding of the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, a subject I’ll cover in a future post.