Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 15 – Int’l Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema & Maryland Int’l Film Festival

FF reviews and boos


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 15 – Int’l Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema & Maryland Int’l Film Festival

Article by Justin Bowler

Let’s start this year off right, right?

kid watches TVMost filmmakers, especially first time filmmakers, think their film is awesome. They have visions of Sundance and Academy Awards and important meetings about future projects. For most of them, this doesn’t happen. In fact, they find it is difficult to even get accepted to a festival when cold submitting. A few thousand dollars later, they still haven’t been accepted and they wonder what happened. Yes, it could be that they have a bad film. But, it also could be that the festivals they submitted to NEVER GAVE THE FILM A CHANCE. Perhaps the screener just skimmed the film. Perhaps the screener never watched the film at all. Perhaps, the festival is so shorthanded, they don’t even have screeners. Festivals get paid for the submission whether they actually watch the film or not. So really, what is their incentive to watch every cold submission? Their goal is to make money and put on a festival. There are lots of ways to get good films for your festival. One of which is to invite (i.e. waive the submission fee for) winners from other festivals. Boom. Now, they have good films for the festival and the cold submissions will pay for the whole thing. Seriously, it’s a brilliant racket. Are all festivals like that? Of course not. This series hopes to show you which fests are the good ones and which fests are part of the racket.

For those of you who don’t know, this is an ongoing review series about my film festival submission experience. These festival reviews are not based on whether or not I was accepted to their festival, it is based merely on my interaction with them as a filmmaker inquiring about their festival and if my genre film is the right fit. I send them three questions, and they are “Yes or No”. It’s pretty easy. Yet, for some reason, some fests, despite multiple inquiries, can’t/don’t/won’t respond.

Submit your film

Filmmakers submit their films online to festivals. They can pay upwards of $100 just to be considered. Yet, they never get confirmation that their film was actually watched. They never speak with anyone from the fest. They don’t know who is judging the film. It could be someone well versed in cinematic theory, who has studied film for years, dissected scenes for hidden nuances, and has a few degrees in writing, film studies and art. OR it could be some random guy who “really likes” going to movies, sees a lot of Hollywood blockbusters, and has opinions on which Transformers movie is the best of Michael Bay’s work. Sadly, filmmakers are forced to “trust the system”. It can be very sketchy. Some festivals take the time to make sure it isn’t, whereas others just don’t want and/or care to make it otherwise.

Check out my friend Paul Osborne’s documentary Official Rejection. It will give you some real insight into how unfriendly some fests are to filmmakers. Sadly, it will blow your mind. Some fests only watch the first few minutes of your film, some don’t watch any of your film. Yet, they all accept your submission fee. It is an eye opening and sad realization.

Let me set the scene. I have a short film called OH, THE EFFING HORROR (That’s right, the title is meant to be shouted). Check out the trailer HERE.

Oh, the Effing HorrorClearly, it is a genre picture. It’s a horror/comedy, or “Horr-omedy”. In addition to the gore and general subject matter, it contains nudity. Finally, with a run time of almost seventeen minutes, it may be too long for some festivals to program. All three of these points give rise to questions I have for festivals.
– First, do they program horror films? (The majority of the fests out there are NOT horror fests, so I would like to know if they even consider the genre in their short film competition.)
– Second, do they accept films with nudity? (Plenty of festivals have to keep it family friendly. I don’t have a problem with that, but, I would like to know that before I shell out my $45.)
– Third, is a seventeen minute run time too long? (Many fests have time limits for their shorts, but don’t always post that info on or (For you newcomers, these are the two websites used for the majority of festival submissions.)

My journey began by contacting festivals through the informational email they listed on or In my email, I stated who I was, the answers I was seeking and inquired who could answer. Typically, I was referred to the Artistic Director or Programming Director.

maryland int'l ff

Maryland International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $65

I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 10/28, long before the regular deadline. I got an immediate response from Tracie. I still don’t know her affiliation with the festival.

Hi Justin!
Are you looking for Joe Carnahan’s contact information? How can I help you?

I was so glad she was willing to help me. My response…

Hi there. I’m not sure who’s info I am looking for. I have submission questions. In addition, I would like to get some quotes for an ongoing series that I’m writing about festivals.

Tracie’s response…

Hi Justin! 
I can answer your questions. How can I help you?

There she was, offering to “help” me again. I was so glad she was going to, in her words, “help”. I asked Tracie my three standard “yes or no” questions. She wasn’t exactly truthful when she said she would “help”. That was on 10/28. She didn’t respond to my questions. So, I sent another email on 11/13. She didn’t respond. Was this her idea of “help”? Perhaps English was her second language and she meant “ignore”? On 12/2, I sent another email. Guess what? NO RESPONSE. So, not only did she not understand “help”, but she also lied about being able to answer my questions. Thanks, Tracie.

Maryland International Film Festival gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. They are happy to take your $65 but won’t actually return an email. Do they watch cold submissions? I doubt it.

International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema

International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema
Submission Price – Up to $80

I first emailed on the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 11/13. I got back an immediate response from Adam Tinnion, Director.

Hi Justin
Thanks for getting back to me. You would be eligible and the length is fine. We also do not have a problem with nudity except during the Awards Evening when we show a 20 second snapshot of the film to show the nominations. 

We are purely a Filmmaker Festival. We do not focus on attaining huge crowds for screenings. We feel that this is more vanity and we focus on networking with Filmmakers and other professionals. We have seen how much time and money has been pumped into almost every project that’s ever been entered into our events for the last 10 years and we have positioned ourselves to offer the best advice possible on making that money back. 

As such we have film professionals attending each of our events that have decades of experience in buying and selling films. If you visit you will see those people – Brad Blaine, Neil McEwan, Ray Davies & Paul Eyres. 

The best way to enter is at

Adam Tinnion

Could he have been any nicer? I immediately submitted.

International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.

If you would like to know more, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. If you would like to find out more info about my genre film, follow it on Instagram @OhTheEffingHorror for instant updates.


Once again, I’d like to hear your stories about festival submitting. If you think there is more to be said about any of the festivals I have reviewed, then I would love to hear it.

Thanks for joining me, check back Friday to find which fests are fab and which fests are effed. (See what I did there?)


Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler

Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART FOURTEEN – Big Easy Int’l & Omaha Film Festivals and Pacific Coast Premiere
PART THIRTEEN – Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema & Dallas Int’l Film Festival
PART TWELVE – Chhatrapati Shivaji Int’l, Columbus Int’l Film + Video & Newport Beach Film Fests
PART ELEVEN – Northeast Film Festival Horror Fest + Depth of Field Int’l, DC & NYC Independent Film Fests
PART TEN – Dawson City & San Louis Obispo Int’l Film Festivals + Zed & Short. Sweet. Film Fests
PART NINE – CISF, Cinemagic London, Atlanta & Liverpool Independent Film Festivals
PART EIGHT – Julien Dubuque, IHSFF, Atlanta Shortsfest, Austin Revolution & Media Film Fests
PART SEVEN – Dam Short, ICE & River Run International Film Festivals
PART SIX – Tampa Bay Underground, CinePlay Film Awards and more
PART FIVE – Fic Autor, Long Beach Int’l & Green Bay Film Festivals
PART FOUR – Los Angeles Film & Script, Fantastic Planet & Tally Shorts Festivals
PART THREE – Die Laughing Film Festival, Slamdance & SIFF
PART TWO – Cheyenne ZombieFest & MiSciFi
PART ONE – SoCal Clips Indie Fest & Brightside Tavern

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