Film Forum

Hidden Festivals: Your guide to the film festivals off the beaten path.

The Fresno Film Festival isn't the only small festival worth a look.

The Fresno Film Festival isn’t the only small festival worth a look.

Film Festival. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of those two words? Well, most of the time, one would think of the larger, better known festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, or the Sundance Film Festival. All of these prestigious festivals showcase an array of renowned films and they are some of the oldest platforms for worldwide cinema. Now, everyone might not have the abundance of time or money for these particular events, but lucky for you California has a large selection of amazing film festivals that you can attend year round. And, by “large,” I mean over a hundred. Road trip, anyone?


The Los Angeles Screamfest Festival is the oldest and largest horror film festival in the United States. As a matter of fact, the 2007 film “Paranormal Activity” was first discovered at this film festival. It gained popularity and was eventually picked up by Paramount Pictures for larger distribution. The festival is a great apparatus for horror films to be displayed. Critics and writers have dubbed it the “Sundance of Horror.” So, if you’re into scary films or you want to experience something new, I would definitely recommend going to the next Los Angeles Screamfest. The festival usually takes place mid-October and runs for ten days.


The 5th Annual Chico Silent Film Festival may not be very old, but it surely provides a great opportunity to go and watch classic silent films. The films are actually on real 16mm film, and are often accompanied by live music. You almost get to experience silent cinema the way people did when it was first invented. How cool is that? If you want to learn more about silent films or you want to just experience them for fun, this film festival is for you. It runs for two days every February and it is very affordable.


MovieMaker magazine has listed the Sonoma International Film Festival as one of the top twenty-five coolest film festivals in the world. It has been running successfully for over twenty years. This film festival features over ninety films of various genres including documentary, short, independent, and/or foreign films. The event will take place from March 29th to April 2nd next year. The beautiful scenery, amazing food, and quality wine make this festival even more worthwhile.

To explore and learn about more film festivals, you can check out-





Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.