The top 5 Miami film festivals

By Tomas Nixon

film festival wreath

Have you spent the last few months making an amazing south Florida film and are seeking a venue or festival to screen your work? Well, look no further than this short list of Miami’s best film festivals. Hollywood studios have been making films in Miami for decades. However only in the last 20-30 years or so has Miami developed its own film scene and birthed its very own filmmakers. Since the 80’s numerous film festivals have sprouted up. If you manage to get selected to show at one of these festivals, they could very well be the spring board that launches you into a career in film making. We, as a local video production company, have amassed a short list of the top Miami Film Festivals.

1. Miami International Film Festival

The obvious number 1 is the Miami International Film Festival, which draws films from all over the world, and is our largest and most reputable and well-funded film fest. Not to mention one of Miami’s oldest, established in 1984 by Nat Chediak and Steven Bowles and organized by the Film Society of Miami and Miami Dade College MDC. They hold their festival annually, and in numerous venues throughout Dade County, my personal favorite venue they use being the historic Gusman Theater downtown. Since their start in 1984, the Miff has become one of Miami’s premier cultural events.

2. Miami Short Film Fest

The Miami Short Film Festival established in 2002 by William Vela and now directed by Jaie Lapante, takes place around the second and third week of November. The festival allows for films from other countries while featuring numerous local indie films by local Miami directors. The festival is held annually, and is often a lively mix of local, indie and international films. The intention of the festival is to “bridge the gap between large studios, independent filmmakers, and the global creative community.” Their festival was held in March of 2018 but you can expect another well curated eclectic selection of new short films at MSFF 2019.

3. I’m not gonna to move to LA (N.O.L.A)

The I’m Not Gonna Move to LA film fest, or N.O.L.A. for short is put on by the lovely folks at Film Gate Miami and is a powerhouse of independent creativity. NOLA is directed by co founder and executive director Diliana Alexander who is also a film maker and producer. Not only does NOLA hold a local monthly film fest at Miami’s beloved O cinema in Wynwood, but they organize and host workshops for film makers on everything from budgeting and animation to casting 3d film making. In the few years since their inception, the NOLA film fest has grown from a small festival to often selling out the theater before their event. Not to mention having dozens of workshops and networking events year round for filmmakers and creative to educate themselves on the nuts and bolts of film making in Florida. Check out their monthly festival at O cinema Wynwood.

4. Borscht Film Festival

The Borscht Film Festival is a quasi-biannual event founded by Miami filmmakers Lucas Leyva and co founder Andrew Hevia. Borscht started off as a traditional festival to showcase personal works and original Miami local directors and films. Once called “the weirdest film fest on the planet” Borscht has since expanded to be more of an event, where one can find anything from experimental art, to body building, coupled with an often eccentric curated showing of films. They have of course retained their wacky off beat and distinctly 305 weirdness. Their most recent event was in February 2018 keep an eye on their site for upcoming events.

5.  Underground Film Festival

Lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a rebellious new comer to the film fest circuit, the Miami Underground Film Festival or Muff is focused on the gritty underbelly of film. In its first year and held at Miami’s historic punk rock venue Churchill’s pub in Little Haiti. They boast a diversely curated selection of short films. Their focus is being on the more unruly, underground and alternative films. They have already begun selling tickets for their festival coming up June 23rd 2018.

So if you are sick of watching the often-formulaic films put out by the Hollywood studios, and are thirsty for rawer, more creative and offbeat cinema, support your local film scene, and attend one of our local festivals.


Chroma House is a Miami video production company, specializing in all aspects of video production. We bring stories to life by visually communicating our clients' message through global commercial branding, and new media. Based in Miami, Florida.

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