Film Festivals: Positive Reviews Deserved Boos: Pt. 40 – Willson Oakville Film Festival

Film Festivals - Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews Deserved Boos: Pt. 40 – Willson Oakville Film Festival

Article by Justin Bowler

This article is crowning! Before I finish this thing off, I’m only going with one festival this week. It’s a very special festival as you will read.

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.

Oh, the Effing Horror

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.

Clearly, 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 (and in some cases Withoutabox). 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.

Willson Oakville Film Festival

Willson Oakville Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $10

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 1/31. I got an immediate response from Wendy Donnan, Programming and Executive Director.

Hello, I am the Programming Director and Exec Director.. can I help you?
Thanks Wendy

I immediately emailed her and she got back to me with a very thorough response.

Hi, Justin,
For this years festival, we are accepting shorts up to 30 min, documentaries up to 90 minutes, and features up to 120 minutes.  We are a social issues focused festival, but we also programme many genres including comedy, particularly for our GALAS. 

We are focusing a block of programming on mental illness and substance abuse this year, as each year we focus on a different social issue (last year bipolar disorder, and the year before, violence against women) 

We programme a lot of short films and 17 minutes is reasonable, and we have programmed comedic horror at the festival before.. Our festival is very filmmaker friendly– we bring filmmakers from around the world to present their programming and We do Q&As and panels after almost every film that we programme (we have brought filmmakers from the UK, and the USA to our festivals in the past)

Its difficult to tell from the teaser whether we would programme the short or not as its hard to see what its about. It would depend on the films we choose, as we tend to try to theme shorts with features or docs… 

Let me know if I can provide you with more information! If you want to speak to a filmmaker about their experience with the festival I can set you up with one… Let me know if I can provide you with anything else! 


Kelly was thorough and specific. Though I did not submit, I highly recommend this festival as they are doing great work.

WILLSON OAKVILLE FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW. Feel free to submit to this festival.

Willson Oakville FF

It just that easy to be a filmmaker-friendly festival.

If you would like to see the OPPOSITE OF filmmaker friendly, check out my previous review and interaction with the Woodstock Film Festival. They sure were angry…

Week 33- Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 33 – Catalina, Woodstock Film Festivals & Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image

Week 34- Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 33.5 – Woodstock Film Festival Follow-Up

If you would like to know more about other fantastic fests, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. They are not all like this week. 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,
Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler

Read More of Justin’s Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:

PART THIRTY-NINE – Great Lakes International & Vancouver Lift-Off Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-EIGHT – DC Shorts, Gasparilla International & FirstGlance Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-SEVEN – Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival
PART THIRTY-SIX – Shriekfest and Tulsa American Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-FIVE – Et Cultura and Molins Horror Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-FOUR – Woodstock Film Festival Follow-Up
PART THIRTY-THREE – Catalina, Woodstock Film Festivals & Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image
PART THIRTY-TWO – Killer Valley Horror, Los Angeles Reel & Halloween International Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-ONE – Sidewalk, Nightmares and HorrorHaus Film Festivals
PART THIRTY – Austin, Monmouth & Atlanta Horror Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-NINE – Cinema at the Edge, Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival & London Independent and Los Angeles Thriller Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-EIGHT – Crested Butte, NEPA Horror and Norwich Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-SEVEN.5 – Breckenridge Film Festival Follow-Up
PART TWENTY-SEVEN – Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Idaho Horror and Kansas City Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-SIX – Sick ‘N’ Wrong, Woods Hole & CayFilm International Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-FIVE – Overlook, Milledgeville and Provincetown Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-FOUR – Breckenridge Film Festival
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

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