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When I lived in New York, I was a regular at film festivals and loved the experience. 

Film festivals have provided a venue for many iconic blockbusters, and independent and rising directors, actors, and producers use film festivals to introduce their work to audiences. 

Film festivals level the competitive playing field between large budget studios and independent film producers that cannot promote their movies to the mass audience.  As a result, our culture is richer and more textured because of film festivals. 

The most impactful film experience of my lifetime was at a film festival

Approximately 16 years ago I watched a screening of Omagh, which is a movie about August 15, 1998, IRA car bombing of a town name Omagh in Northern Ireland.  The production was gritty, realistic, and impactful. 

At the end of the screening, Michael Gallagher spoke and answered questions. 

Michael’s son, Aiden Gallagher, was one of 29 people killed in the Omagh bombing, and the film was based upon Michael’s experience and his son’s murder.

After Mr. Gallagher finished speaking, there was a reception.  I waited until the end of the reception and then approached Mr. Gallagher.  I had many questions, including how he found forgiveness in his heart.  We spoke for about 30 minutes, and, at the end of the conversation, we hugged. 

I still follow Michael on-line and have attempted to live the lessons of forgiveness, bravery, and responsibility he taught me. 

Film festivals are on-line because of COVID-19

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of COVID-19 is that film festivals have gone on-line, and everyone with a computer and an internet connection can attend. 

Below is a list of just a few of the film festivals that you can watch from home.  There is usually a small charge for access.  

Sometimes the films will be life-changing and sometimes…well…not so much. 

But, on balance, the vast majority of productions will be engaging, entertaining, and impactful. 

So, here goes…below is a partial list of film festivals you can enjoy from home. 

Atlanta Film Festival & Creative Conference (September 17 to September 27)

This film festival starts tomorrow and has a massive catalog of great movies, documentaries, and panels to select from.

To learn more, click here

New York Film Festival (September 25 to October 11)

In its 58th season, the New York Film Festival is one of the best. 

Click this link to access their web site and subscribe to films.

AFI Latin American Film Festival (September 25 to October 5), AFI FEST (October 15 to October 22), and AFI Movie Club (continuous weekly offering)

AFI stands for American Film Institute, and this prestigious organization has embraced the new digital world. 

If you would like to learn more about the AFI Latin American Film Festival, click here

For the AFI FEST, click here.

For the AFI Movie Club, click here

Woodstock Film Festival (September 30 to October 4)

The Woodstock Film Festival is another beautiful opportunity to watch some of the most important new and historical films produced.  Also, the Woodstock Film Festival has excellent panel discussions and provide a learning experience. 

Please click here to learn more. 

The Hamptons International Film Festival (October 10 to October 14)

In past years I have attended the Hamptons Film Festival (I had a house in the Hamptons) and always was amazed at the variety and quality of the film offerings. 

If you would like to learn more click here

Montclair Film Festival (October 16 to October 25)

I have never attended this festival; it is only in its 9th year. 

But, one of the Montclair Film Festival’s supporters is Stephen Colbert, and his wife, Evelyn, is President of the Board.  So, I am guessing that this is a quality festival. 

This organization also has weekly events and learning experiences. 

They will announce the film and schedule line up on October 2nd, and tickets will go on sale on October 8th

To learn more, click here

In 2021 there will be more offerings, including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival, and the Ashland Film Festival (just to name a few). 

So, even though we can’t see movies on the big screen, that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying new cinema offerings. 

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