If you’re evaluating key festivals for submissions, or looking for emerging talent, there are a handful of festivals that are leaders in their space, attracting home entertainment companies, television networks, digital distributors and studios. If that’s not enough to peak your interest, many filmmakers also walk away with meaningful prize money, distribution deals, licensing deals, important new industry relationships, and career opportunities.
One of the best indicators for the quality of talent you might find and overall festival experience is the HBO stamp of approval. HBO has been the largest supporter of cultural festivals for the past 15 years, playing a significant role in providing these filmmakers with recognition and career opportunities. HBO also canvasses the festivals to acquire LGBT, Asian, Latino, and African American films to provide diverse programming for a variety of channels including HBO on Demand, HBO GO, HBO Latino that have proven to be profitable for the network.
For filmmakers, an HBO Award offers meaningful industry credibility, an opportunity to showcase their film on the leading pay network, revenue from award prizes and licensing deals to begin their next project, and direct access to acquisitions and development executives. Lucinda Desir, VP Domestic Network Distribution and Multicultural Marketing states, “HBO’s commitment to supporting diverse cultural images began over 15 years ago and we are proud to have played a role in developing the careers of extremely talented filmmakers by providing them with a platform on which to showcase their work. These festivals are some of the most prominent advocates for the development and production of multicultural cinema and HBO is honored to be involved in the creation of such meaningful content.”
A list of key HBO sponsored festivals, film competitions, prizes and success stories follow:
American Black Film Festival An annual July Miami festival, the ABFF celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2011 and HBO is the Founding sponsor. The ABFF is considered the premiere US festival for films from African Americans and the African Diaspora. HBO annually sponsors the Short Film Award with a $20,000 prize and a licensing deal (for the past 14 years). In 2008, Rashaad Ernesto Green’s Premature won the ABFF Short Film Award and he walked away with $20,000 and a 2-year licensing deal with HBO. His first feature Gun Hill Road was a 2011 Official Sundance Selection, nominated for the Sundance Narrative Grand Jury Prize, and released theatrically in August 2011 by Motion Film Group.
NY International Latino Film Festival takes place annually in August and is considered one the top festivals for Latino filmmakers. HBO sponsors the Short Film Script Competition and the winner receives a production budget and licensing deal valued at $15,000, along with multiple screenings during the festival. NYILFF’s Opening Night film, Chico and Rita written and directed by Javier Mariscal, was acquired by HBO during the 2011 festival.
Philadelphia Asian Film Festival Scheduled in late October, the festival’s mission is to celebrate and elevate the Asian American experience. In 3 short years, PAAFF is has screened over 100 films (Documentaries, Narrative Features and Shorts) of culturally relevant programming to a broad audience. The majority of the films are in English and the festival accepts work from Asian and non-Asian filmmakers. HBO is the Founding and Presenting Sponsor and sponsors the HBO Award for Best Short. The festival shorts are a key component of HBO’s Asian Heritage Month Campaign.
Provincetown International Film Festival A June festival, PIFF is a 5-day festival in June that presents a wide array of American and international narrative features, documentaries and short films. The festival makes a particular point to honor and preserve Provincetown’s rich and diverse history as an arts colony, Portuguese fishing village, and gay and lesbian mecca – while never forgetting the area’s original Native American inhabitants. HBO sponsors the Audience Awards for Best Narrative, Best Documentary and Best Short.
S. Asian Film Festival celebrates its 9th anniversary in November and showcases emerging filmmakers from the S. Asian Diaspora, and Bollywood studio films with leading stars who attend to support the festival. Held in New York, last year’s Opening Night Film Girl with the Yellow Boots by director Anurag Kashyap screened at Cannes and was acquired by Indie Pix. HBO sponsors the festival’s Short Film Award.
Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival The 9th annual festival wrapped in August and provides a nurturing a competitive environment for emerging and accomplished filmmakers. HBO sponsors the awards for Feature, Documentary and Short Film with a $500 prize to each filmmaker.
Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival seeks to bring the very best LGBT films in the world to the Miami festival. The 14th annual 11-day festival takes place in late April early May 2012. The festival screens feature and short films from around the globe. HBO is the Awards sponsor for Best Narrative, Best Documentary and Best Short Film.