Get away to the big screen and discover unforgettable films. From the Siouxland to Snake Alley, Iowa film festivals stay with you long after the credits have rolled. See careers launched and engage in discussions with filmmakers. Weekends in Iowa just got more entertaining. View the statewide listing below and start planning your getaway.
Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival
The Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival showcases movies that have a Midwestern influence. It offers filmmakers a chance to screen their work and have it critiqued. Films are accepted from any location, but must meet the criteria of having an Iowa connection. This qualification requires that an entry has an association with Iowa such as a key crew member or actor who was born or educated or lived and worked in Iowa; a story set in Iowa or about an Iowa topic; or part or all of the film produced in Iowa. All skill levels and genres are accepted.
Creative Edge Film Fest
The Creative Edge Film Fest brings a new paradigm to the Midwest for independent filmmakers, producers, directors and actors to showcase their talents. The festival is hosted each year in Fairfield—a southeast Iowa community known for its arts, meditation, diverse cultures and entrepreneurship. It’s been named by Smithsonian Magazine as “One of America’s Best Small Towns” and provides a unique setting to experience creative, thought-provoking filmmaking.
Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project
The Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project's mission is to advance filmmaking and promote filmmakers. Through its festival/competition, the Project encourages filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers to make movies. The tight deadline of 48 hours puts the focus squarely on the filmmakers—emphasizing creativity and teamwork skills. While the time limit places an unusual restriction on the filmmakers, it’s also liberating by putting an emphasis on "doing" instead of "talking." The Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project premieres the best of these short films at the Fleur Cinema & Café, an independent movie theater located just south of downtown Des Moines.
Halloweenapalooza is Iowa’s only horror film showcase created by horror filmmakers for horror fans. The annual film festival takes place each October in Ottumwa and features vendors, celebrity appearances, costume contests, live music, Zombie Walk and much more. Halloweenapalooza is appropriately held at the historic and haunted Hotel Ottumwa to further enhance your horror film experience.
Hardacre Film Festival
Iowa’s longest-running film festival takes place every August in historic Tipton, Iowa. Founded in 1996, the Hardacre Film Festival features independent films from all over the world—most of which have never been seen in Iowa. The festival has drawn filmmakers from Iowa to New Zealand and has cultivated an audience of passionate fans of indie film, creating a unique, shared movie-going experience year after year. The home to the festival is Tipton’s 100-year-old century revival Hardacre Theater, giving film lovers an experience that joins small town history with cutting-edge filmmaking.
Interrobang Film Festival
The Interrobang Film Festival’s vision is to celebrate creativity, while promoting a wide array of film types. Representing motion pictures as part of the nationally-renowned Des Moines Arts Festival since 2007, the Interrobang Film Festival is part juried competition, public screening and workshop. The audience – whether cinema enthusiast or curious newcomer– is able to experience curated screenings of films from Iowa and around the globe.
Iowa Independent Film Festival
Founded by Hollywood filmmaker Henry Jaglom and actress Tanna Frederick in 2007, the Iowa Independent Film Festival brings independent films, unique documentaries and student productions as well as prominent actors, directors and producers from Los Angeles and New York to North Iowa. The festival is hosted in the beautiful Historic Park Inn on the town square in Mason City which is the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed and built hotel in the world. It’s where Hollywood and small-town Iowa meet to celebrate filmmaking.
Jean Seberg Festival of the Arts
The Jean Seberg Festival of the Arts (formerly the Jean Seberg International Film Festival) is an annual tribute to the actor, activist and Marshalltown native. The festival features film screenings, an exhibit of memorabilia and photography, and informational lectures and sessions. It is hosted by the Iowa Valley Community College District Orpheum Theater, a historic movie theater located in downtown Marshalltown.
Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival brings filmmakers and storytellers together for its annual program of documentaries, features and shorts. The festival is headquartered in the beautiful and historic Hotel Julien with films being shown in different venues throughout downtown Dubuque. In addition to educational panel discussions, special evening events and musical performances, the festival’s highlight is the Silent Film Showcase at the Five Flags Theater which is musically supported live by the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra. The fesitval was voted one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine.
Landlocked Film Festival
Landlocked Film Festival brings the best of independent world cinema to the American heartland, by providing expert-led workshops, fostering dialogue between audiences and filmmakers, and providing film artists opportunities to network with their peers. Thousands gather in historic downtown Iowa City to watch diverse films, from artsy experimentation to outrageous comedy, from hard-hitting documentary to amazing animation and everything in between.
Muscatine Independent Film Festival
The Muscatine Independent Film Festival is a showcase for local and regional short filmmakers and is designed to encourage and acknowledge their creative efforts. It is hoped that providing an awards venue for regional artists will inspire creativity and innovative artistic media. This event is also an effort to provide Midwest residents and visiting artists with an engaging evening of entertainment. MIFF accepts entries from across the globe in various award categories including our infamous M&M Award (Murder & Mayhem).
Oneota Film Festival
Through film, discussion, and other media, the mission of the Oneota Film Festival is to engage a large and diverse audience in the critical issues of our time. Most films shown in this admission-free event are documentaries. Submitted films are accepted from students and independent filmmakers. The Oneota Film Festival was created in 2008 and is produced by a dedicated group in Decorah, including representatives of host Luther College and local film enthusiasts, who have formed a non-profit corporation.
Prairie Grass Film Challenge
The Prairie Grass Film Challenge is a 48-hour event designed to give people of all ages in the Midwest region an opportunity to compete for some fabulous prizes and have the time of their lives doing it. Growing every year, teams from around the country and Canada now join regional teams in competing for the “coveted Dordty” award and the bragging rights that go with it. Produced by Prairie Grass Productions and held on the campus of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, this top-shelf event is great way to shake the mid-winter cold and exercise sleep-optional creativity in a mere two days.
Sioux City International Film Festival
The Sioux City International Film Festival (formerly the Siouxland Film Festival) promotes the art of film, encourages and supports young filmmakers, and brings interesting films to the area in the magnificent Orpheum Theatre in downtown Sioux City. The festival features local, national and international short films. The audience selects the winners at each of the screenings with the top vote receiving the prestigious "Siouxsie" trophy. Cash prizes are also awarded. The Sioux City International Film Festival continues to grow in size and reputation with its world premieres and has even attracted filmmakers as far away as Paris, France who recently declared it “the world’s best film festival”.
Snake Alley Festival of Film
The Snake Alley Festival of Film is dedicated to showcasing the best short films from around the world. Films are screened at the beautifully restored Capitol Theater in the heart of downtown Burlington, Iowa. The theater boasts state of the art equipment and can comfortably seat more than 400 people.
Wild Rose Independent Film Festival
The internationally acclaimed, filmmaker friendly Wild Rose Independent Film Festival offers the exciting cultural adventure of viewing carefully juried, top quality selections culled from hundreds of compelling, diverse, hilarious, beautiful and inspiring features, shorts, documentaries, animated films, music videos, and student films from Iowa and across the globe. Drawing worldwide attendees, presenting awards in more than 50 categories, and offering informative industry pro workshops with stellar networking opportunities, the Wild Rose, held at Des Moines' trendy Fleur Cinema & Café, provides a powerful festival experience, encouraging memorable interaction between filmmakers and film lovers who savor cinema created outside the studio system.