You may have never heard of the Orlando Film Festival (OFF), or you may have confused it with another film festival that takes place in April. Whether you’re new to OFF or a longtime fan, it is a fabulous opportunity to see approximately 250 films of all genres in one place. Named one of the top 25 “Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Moviemaker Magazine, the Orlando Film Festival is now in its 18th year of showcasing the best in new independent cinema worldwide.
How OFF Stands Apart
This eight-day festival, which starts on October 26, includes more than just movies. There are also table reads, filmmaking education sessions, and panel discussions. All festivities occur at CMX Plaza Cinema Café in the heart of downtown Orlando.
OFF’s executive director Dan Springen calls the festival a filmmaker’s film fest. He says it’s a way to support filmmakers from conception to completion.
Another thing that makes OFF a little different than other film festivals is that instead of cash prizes for winners, filmmakers receive access to filmmaking resources such as equipment use, studio time, experts with experience in acquiring props, locations, background actors, and the like to help them get their projects off the ground and possibly on their way to finding a distributor. According to Springen, the festival gives awards valued at approximately $1 million yearly at the closing award ceremony.
Genuinely Supporting Filmmakers
Nicole Ziobro is a filmmaker who graduated from Valencia College’s film production technology program in 2010. For the last 10 years (on and off), she has been the associate producer of OFF. She says OFF is unique because it is more intimate, with filmmakers openly supporting each other and their projects. “There’s this conception that the film industry is an elite group of people; however, with OFF, it’s more like you’ve got a village behind you rooting for you. It’s just a whole different vibe,” Ziobro says.
Springen echoes that sentiment. “We want to make filmmaking attainable, whether you have a ton of resources and money or not,” Springen says. “By supporting other filmmakers, not only do filmmakers benefit, but so do the industry and the community. A better and larger variety of films with more perspectives, different voices, and unique experiences means stories that might not otherwise be told are finally getting in front of audiences.”
Thanks to its partners, including CMX Cinemas, Downtown Orlando and sponsors such as Stella Artois and Cantina Spirits, OFF staff and volunteers helped Wild Rivers Film Festival producers in Brookings, Oregon, open its first film festival in August this year.
“It was so exciting to see how this film festival can energize a whole community. From film students to local shop owners and restaurants, this film festival is more than just movies. It’s a movement.” Springen says.
Since access is essential, OFF keeps ticket and pass prices very reasonable. It’s only $20 for a one-day pass and $100 for a seven-day pass (VIP passes are also available). For anyone who loves international independent story-telling, check out this year’s schedule at OFFVirtual.com and get tuned in to the Orlando Film Festival.