Fests from American Indian Film Festival to Winter Film Awards Celebrate Differences and Diversity

Linda PerryOutfest Legacy Awards, Los Angeles,

Global gatherings celebrate cultures, ethnicities and people from all walks of life. Variety has compiled a list of these notable upcoming festivals for the 2017-18 year.

American Indian Film Festival

As the “oldest and best known” Native American cinema outlet, the AIFF aims to increase mainstream awareness of Native American cinema, develop an audience, and create authentic representations of native peoples in cinema. Nov. 3-11

Asian World Film Festival

The Los Angeles-based fest showcases films from 50 countries across Asia and aims to create better recognition for its filmmakers and strengthen the Asian film market. All films selected to represent their country at the Academy and Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. awards are automatically invited to be exhibited and have an opportunity to display their films to Oscar, Golden Globes and guild voters. Oct. 25-Nov. 2

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

In 2015 AJFF became the largest Jewish film festival in the world; now it continues to showcase international cinema through a Jewish lens. Jan. 24-Feb. 15

Cine Careyes

A festival-cum-workshop for Latin American filmmakers in Mexico each February, the event draws big industry names, including Sundance’s John Cooper, to screen new work by and mentor up-and-coming Latino filmmakers.

The CineLatino Film Festival

This Australia-based fest is a four-day, cultural celebration of Latino cinema. With 13 titles, the festival features a healthy mix of feature and documentary films, along with new and repertory titles. Nov. 14-29

Chicago Latino Film Festival

This non-competitive festival  exhibits the best and most recent films from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula and the United States in order to help promote Latino culture in the U.S. April 5-19

Essence Festival Durban

Hosted by the Essence magazine, the fest is a celebration of black excellence in music, film, fashion, activism, television, business and more. July 5-18

Exground Film Festival

The German fest for international indies has exhibited films such as  “9 Souls” by Toshiaki Toyoda, “Gerry” by Gus Van Sant and “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” by Tommy Lee Jones. Nov. 17-26


Also known as San Francisco Intl. LGBTQ Film Festival, it hopes to use queer cinema as a platform for social change. Created in 1977 by nonprofit Frameline Distribution, it’s one of the largest LGBTQ film exhibitions in the world.

Imperfectu Intl. Film and Gender Festival

This Tijuana event uses film to help further the discussion of gender and challenge the established standards of gender, sex and heteronormativity. Nov. 16-18.

Japan Cuts

This New York-based film festival, run by the Japan Society and now entering its 11th year, is North America’s largest festival of new Japanese cinema. The festival hosts panel, parties, and invites guest stars to celebrate Japanese films, never seen in NYC, from documentaries to avant-garde pieces and animation. July 13-23

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The festival has been around since 1983 and has screened more than 5,000 films, videos, and digital pieces from Asian international and Asian-Pacific American artists.  It is the largest showcase for Asia- Pacific content in Southern California and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for shorts. It features seminars and panels, guest appearances and filmmaker awards. April 27-May 4

Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival

Founded in 2010 by actress and educator Hollis McLachlan, fest prides itself on being an opportunity for individuals of all backgrounds to display their art, stories, experiences and backgrounds without fear of racism or degradation. The festival is presented by West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts Commission. July 26-28

Los Angeles Intl. Culture Film Festival

Founded in 2015 by the Intl. Scholars Film Assn., a UCLA-based nonprofit student organization, the festival welcomes films that demonstrate certain aspects of a particular culture or explore the meaning of cultural diversity. April 16

Los Angeles Red Nation Film Festival

Taking place every November in honor of American Indian Heritage Month, the fest is dedicated to ending racism by introducing authentic depictions of Native Americans to a global audience. The festival also champions the roles and voices of native women and youth in the filmmaking process. According to its website it is the “only film competition in the world that offers guaranteed distribution of American Indian & Indigenous award-winning independent films.” Nov. 8-19

Let’s All Be Free Film Festival

LABF features full-length films and shorts within a loose definition of freedom. In the past, the films explored many topics such as freedom of speech, information, sexuality, or expression. Sept. 20-24

Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival

The Massachusetts town plays host to the event, which was created by Stephanie and Floyd Rance of Run & Shoot Filmworks in 2003. Now in its 15th year, the festival screens and promotes emerging feature, documentary and short films produced by and starring African-Americans. Aug. 6-11

Montreal Intl. Black Film Festival

The fest attempts expand the scope of Canadian cinema by showcasing independent short films that celebrate black cinema and experiences of blacks around the world. The festival is also the only black bilingual festival in North America and offers programs in both English and French. Sept. 27-Oct. 1

National Assn. of Black Journalists Film Festival

Featured as part of the annual conventions for the National Assn. of Black Journalists, the fest provides early screenings of films, television shows and documentaries. Aug. 1-5


Outfest was founded in 1982 by UCLA students to promote the rights of the LGBTQ community and protect their stories. The nonprofit organization has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers and protected more than 20,000 LGBT films and videos. July 12-22


Presenting films about and by people with various disabilities, the event also features discussions and other programs. Since its start in 2007 in New York, ReelAbilities has become the largest festival of its kind in America and has inspired other ReelAbilities events in cities across the country. March 8-14

San Diego Asian Film Festival

The 18th edition of this celebration of Asian cinema, running Nov. 9-18, features a selection of documentaries, narrative features and independent films from more than 20 countries. Kent Lee, executive director of the fest, says, “SDAFF aims to be a platform for Asian and Asian-American storytellers, shedding light on new communities, expanding knowledge of Asian cultures and showing new possibilities for Asians onscreen.” Nov. 9-18

Sicilia Queer Filmfest

Held in Italy, the Intl. New Visions event aims to promote film culture and fight social discrimination, while promoting diversity. It gives a platform to emerging actors, filmmakers and experimental films. May 31-June 6

Silk Screen Film Festival

The Silk Screen Film Festival focuses on increasing the representation of the Asian-American experience and awareness of Asian arts. This annual Pittsburgh-based festival showcases films from India, Japan, China, Turkey, Lebanon, South Korea, Iraq, Philippines and Iran. Sept. 16-24

Sydney Transgender Intl. Film Festival

Australian film festival showcases transgender filmmakers and themes from home and abroad hopes to help mainstream the transgender identity and issues. Sept. 30-Oct. 1

Toronto Black Film Festival

An offshoot of the Montreal fest, the Toronto edition was founded by the Fabienne Colas Foundation in 2013. The festival aims to celebrate black film and explore the diversity within the black communities in Canada. Feb. 14-19

Toronto Intl. Deaf Film & Arts Festival

The only festival of its kind in Canada and one of the biggest deaf culture festivals in the world, the event is hosted biannually and recently completed its sixth event. The festival showcases the works of national and international deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind filmmakers and artists, as well as those who produce works in collaboration with the deaf and hearing community to serve as a resource and help mainstream deaf culture. May 24-27

TransNation Film Festival

TransNation seeks to increase the representation and education available to the transgender, gender-nonconforming, and general populations and donates all of its proceeds to the nonprofit St. John’s Well Child and Family Center’s Transgender Health Program, which provides comprehensive trans health services in a safe and welcoming environment to people in Los Angeles. Oct. 16-20

Underwire Festival

The U.K.’s only film festival that specifically celebrates women filmmakers, it was founded in 2010 and has screened more than 300 films. “Operator” won the 2016 BAFTA short film award. Nov. 22-26

Winter Film Awards Indie Film Festival

This New York film festival is run by volunteers and owned by women and minorities who feel Hollywood consistently ignores their presence. The Winter Film Awards focuses on recognizing the work of women and minority filmmakers. Feb. 22-March 3