Film festivals are the places where some of the most groundbreaking, innovative, or just plain charming movies get discovered. You've probably heard of the more conventional ones like Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival. There are actually hundreds and hundreds of film festivals held around the world annually, however! A few of these festivals are a little quirky or offbeat, specializing in airing a specific type of movie or being held in a specific type of place that differs from the norm. Here are just ten of these weird film festivals that you might not have heard of!
10 Golden Apricot Film Festival
The Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival, a.k.a. GAIFF, takes place in Yerevan, Armenia annually. The type of movies aired at this festival aren't too out of the norm. This festival's theme is "Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations," so the various films aired show the human experience from the point-of-view of many different cultures and walks of life. What is a little quirky, however, are their apricot themed awards. Apricots are the unofficial national fruit of Armenia, so the awards include the coveted "Golden Apricot" for various film categories.
9 Incredibly Strange Film Festival
The Incredibly Strange Film Festival a.k.a ISFF is aptly named, as all of the films screened during the festival are, well, incredibly strange. Held in New Zealand each year, ISFF shows you movies so insanely bizarre that you may leave feeling unsettled...or inspired! Films aired at previous festivals include Troll Hunter, Hobo With a Shotgun, and Cold Fish. As you can tell from the movie titles, the plots for these films are a little unconventional. Still, many of the provocative films aired at this festival go on to be cult favorites.
8 International Random Film Festival
Every aspect of the International Random Film Festival lives up to the name. 25 films are randomly chosen to air, premiering at a random location on a random date. The details will be different each year. (The past festivals can be pinned down to Europe, however, as they were held in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Sweden, and Finland.)
Their awards are created pretty randomly too, with awards such as "The Runaway Turtle Award" and "The Spoon and the Goldfish Award" being given out in the past. And the recipients didn't know what those awards meant either until they were presented them!
7 KahBang Festival
There are a few special things about this festival held annually in Maine. First of all, it's not just a film festival -- it's also a festival for music and other forms of art. Secondly, some of the awards given out at this festival could be considered unique. For example, the KahBang Festival gives out the Kevin Norwood Bacon Achievement Award, which is given to those who can prove they are connected to Kevin Bacon a la "Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon." This internet trend has people convinced that you can link anyone in the industry to Kevin Bacon in just six steps.
6 International Moustache Film Festival
Ah, yes, the IMFF. The International Moustache Film Festival only accepts movies that are mustache-themed or star an actor with some fantastic facial hair. Two examples given by the IMFF are films about Salvador Dali or Jesus. Held in Portland, Maine as part of the Portland Facial Hair Fest, the awards given out at this festival include Best ‘Stache Growth Story, Best ‘Stache Shaving Story, Best Moustache Death Relationship Story and Best Collection of Moustaches in One Film. And don't worry -- films involving fake mustaches are accepted.
5 Holly Weird Film Festival
You know those films that make you sit in silence for a while after it ends before finally saying "What?" Those types of films are shown at the Holly Weird Film Festival. This festival was held for the first time (but hopefully not the last) just this year at the California Institute of Abnormal Arts. Anything experimental, underground, and/or avant-garde is welcome.
The Holly Weird Film Festival wants to show you the films that you don't usually get to see, with concepts that are truly innovative and just a little off-putting.
4 Borscht Film Festival
The Borscht Film Festival aims to showcase films made in Miami that are often made by first-time filmmakers. The weird part about this film festival isn't the movies -- although those are often pretty quirky too -- but the activities that accompany the screenings. According to the festivals official website, previous activities include space launches, bodybuilding contests, DIY theme parks and machete fencing matches. Past attendees recall there being a laser light show and psychic readings. Basically, you don't know what you're gonna get at this film festival, which was created by a group of students from New World School of the Arts.
3 Sick 'n' Wrong Film Festival
The Sick 'n' Wrong Film Festival was created with the intent to freak the audience out. Seriously, the festival will accept "any movie that disturbs the audience on an existential level" according to their website. Awards include the Bad Trip Award, the Giggling-at-the-Funeral Award, the Bloody Keyboard Award, and the coveted Golden Tentacle given to the creators of the movie voted best overall. There are also awards given out for movies voted "sickest" or "wrongest," of course. The trophies are custom and hand-sculpted as well. This film festival has been held annually since 2016, so it must be a success!
2 Cinema in the Cemetery
This film festival in Sydney, Australia has audiences sitting among actual dead people -- or, at least, their graves. Held in St. John's Cemetery, this spooky festival screens only scary movies, including some classics such as Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window of the original Ghostbusters from the 1980's. While some people don't even flinch during scary movies, the setting for this festival ups the spook factor and may freak out even the bravest of horror movie connoisseurs. While film festivals screening scary movies isn't too odd, the location certainly gives this festival some weird points.
1 Bring Your Own Film Festival
As the name of this festival tells you, there is no screening or application process for the Bring Your Own Film Festival (BYOFF) held in India each year. Have a movie to share? Just show up, register the film, and then exhibit it. Simple! There's no requirements, no credentials needed, no specific theme or genre preferred. Anyone can walk in and display their work -- not just filmmakers, but musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, writers, photographers...any type of art form out there! With no restrictions on who can air their movie, some films can get exposure they might not have otherwise.