Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 24 – Breckenridge Film Festival

Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 24 – Breckinridge Film Festival

Article by Justin Bowler

Oh boy, is this week a doozy. THIS WEEK SHOWS THE WORST OF THE WORST!!!!
Yes, I am only highlighting one festival (next week, I promise I will only highlight positive festivals). But, after the horrible experience I have had with the BRECKENRIDGE FILM FESTIVAL, I had to let people know how little they think of new filmmakers.

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.

Call for entriesFilmmakers 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 the Breckenridge Film Festival through the informational email they listed on In my email, I stated who I was, the answers I was seeking and inquired who could answer.

Breckenridge Film Festival

Breckenridge Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $75

I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox,, on 11/21/16. I did not get a response.
I emailed again on 12/19/16. No response.
So, I emailed again on 2/3/17. On 2/22, I received this email from Dianna Nilsson, Programming Director, Breckenridge Film Festival.

Justin, I’m happy to answer any questions re: submitting.

Dianna Nilsson
Programming Director
Breckenridge Film Festival
PO Box 718
400 N Park 10-B
Breckenridge CO 80424

I immediately responded with my three questions regarding eligibility, making sure to include the entire email chain (my three previous contact attempts and her one response).
A week and a half later, on 3/4/17, she responded with this…


I appreciate your interest in the Breckenridge Film Festival however we do not watch or review films until they are submitted and the fees paid. 

Good luck with your project,

Dianna Nilsson
Programming Director
Breckenridge Film Festival
PO Box 718
400 N Park 10-B
Breckenridge CO 80424

I’ll be honest. I don’t know what she was talking about.

Clearly, Dianna Nilsson was confused. Maybe Dianna Nilsson gets confused easily. Perhaps she got me confused with someone else who has sent her four emails regarding three “yes or no” eligibility questions. It took her longer to write her response than it would take her to write…

By the way, the latter would have been much more useful.

The alternative is… she flat out does not do her job and she ignores her responsibilities.

She doesn’t care to respond to new filmmakers. She certainly doesn’t READ their emails, or even CHECK THEM for that matter. Certainly, her comprehension is less than.

The Room

Despite all of this, I immediately emailed her, again, and I made sure to include all of my previous emails, again!!!

That’s great. Personally, I don’t think anyone would admit to that. However, can you please answer my eligibility questions so I can even submit? Or are you saying that I shouldn’t bother?
Thank you.

Four days later, she responded with this…

This is a catch-22 situation – we can’t make a judgment call until you’ve submitted. So I’m saying that it’s up to you whether you want to take a risk on your project and get it reviewed.

And the only way to get it reviewed is to submit it. I know, it’s a tough call.

Good luck,

Dianna Nilsson
Programming Director
Breckenridge Film Festival

Dianna Nilsson, clearly, has not read a single email that I have sent (AND I HAVE SENT FIVE OF THEM!). She certainly has not read the email chain I have included with EVERY EMAIL. How on earth could I make it more clear to her that I am looking for the answers to THREE “YES OR NO” ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONS!!!

Do you accept horror films?
Is nudity acceptable?
Do you actually program 17 minute shorts?

Really, is it that difficult to answer these questions? Other festivals seem to do it quite easily. I’m not even sure why this is confusing to her. So, what is she talking about regarding “review”ing my film. I’m not asking for a review. In fact, at no point, did I ask for a review. Frankly, I don’t want a review. What do I want? I want my three questions answered.

The alternative is… She is saying, she won’t tell me if they accept horror, nudity, or 17 minute films. That information is privileged and top secret. I have to submit in order to find out that information? REEAALLLY? IS THAT WHAT SHE IS SAYING? Of course, she isn’t.

So, once again, I conclude…

Dianna Nilsson does not do her job.

Dianna Nilsson gets confused easily.

I will say this. She has beaten me down and I simply won’t submit.




Yes, after my interaction with the Breckenridge Film Festival, I don’t have the energy to review any other fests this week. But, honestly, could the behavior of any fest come close to being this obscene? This is week 24 of this series. This is the absolute worst behavior from a fest I have seen.

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 @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?).

Let’s stay positive despite Dianna Nilsson’s inability to do her job.

Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler

EDITOR’S NOTE: There has been a FOLLOW-UP on this fest! A must-read.

Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART TWENTY-THREE – Indie Horror, FAMEUS Int’l & Atlanta Underground Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-TWO – Brooklyn Short Film, Buddha Int’l & Sun Valley Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-ONE – Festival Reviews REVIEW!
PART TWENTY – Lake George Film Festival and Lisbon, NY State & Illinios Int’l Film Festivals
PART NINETEEN – Hoboken Int’l, NYC Downtown & Love Horror Short Film Festivals
PART EIGHTEEN – West Chester, Oaxaca and Crimson Screen Horror Film Fests
PART SEVENTEEN – Nashville, Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l & FirstGlance L.A. Film Festivals
PART SIXTEEN – Dances With Films & Southside Film Festival
PART FIFTEEN – Int’l Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema & Maryland Int’l Film Festival
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

One thought on “Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 24 – Breckenridge Film Festival

  1. The Breck Film Fest regrets that Justin Bowler had a difficult experience with the festival’s submissions process and, by association, its programming director. This represents an anomaly in our relationships with filmmakers, the vast majority of whom enjoy their experience with Breck Film Fest, both in the submissions process and in attending the festival once selected. We welcome filmmakers to read in full our festival submissions requirements and, if questions remain, to inquire with us about submitting their films.

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