The midwestern United States is mostly Chicago to anyone who doesn’t live there, but for locals, it’s as diverse as anywhere on the planet. From the blue collar factories of Indiana to lakes of Minnesota, this area before you reach the great plains has a vibrant culture that has been sharing great film for generations.
Here is a small sampling of some of the larger and smaller film festivals in the midwest (outside of the Windy City):
The Heartland Film Festival – Indianapolis, IN – Billing itself as the largest and longest-running film festival in Indiana, this festival has been bringing great films to the Heartland for 25 years. Started as a three day event with 20 films, it’s now an 11 day event with over 130 independent films and 250 film screenings.
Beloit International Film Festival – Beloit, WI – In it’s tenth year, the Beloit International Film Festival is held in a small city on the Wisconsin-Illinois border. The festival is designed to be an integral part of the city and celebrates the closeness of area. The variety of films at the festival ranges from the new and unusual to international blockbusters.
North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival – Kalamazoo, MI – This film festival specializes in films with budgets of $10,000 or less. They even have a MicroCam category for films shot on iPad, iPhone, Android, or GoPro. It’s an excellent opportunity for new and underfunded filmmakers to have their films shown on the big screen to a live audience.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival – Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – The Twin Cities has always been a place with a deep appreciation of the arts and film. One of the longest running film festivals in the US, they show over 250 feature length films from over 60 countries. It is easily on the list of best festivals in the world.
Speechless Film Festival – Mankato, MN – Named for their archetypal category, Speechless Films, this festival is very much at the leading edge of film. With categories like Body Issues, Dreams & Nightmares, and The Gauntlet, this is one of the most fascinating film festivals in the world. For those of us who love experimental/avant-garde films, this is the perfect festival in a wonderful Midwest City.
Naperville Independent Film Festival – Naperville, IL – Running in mid-September, NIFF shows films from around the world from emerging artists and established hands. Some of the finest and most powerful dramas, comedies, documentaries, and experimental films are found in the City of Naperville. Not too far from Chicago and a great place to visit. this is an event worth catching.
Athens Film Festival – Athens, OH – For over 40 years, the city of Athens has hosted one of the best independent film festivals in the world. After a prescreening, the Athens Cinema hosts amazing films and shorts from nearly every nation on the planet. A small festival that has a large impact on the film, the Athens Film Festival is a great opportunity to enjoy this city, its people, and fantastic films.