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. Check the calendar often for up-to-date information on all the action.
The Alternating Currents film festival is open to all genres. Music. Film. Comedy. Art. In late August, downtown Davenport will be brimming with energy as over a dozen venues host a wide variety of original live music, film screenings, comedians, and visual artists. The goal of the festival is to help filmmakers promote their work, meet new contacts and create a new audience. This is about you and Alternating Currents wants you to use their stage.
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.
Conrad Nagel Film Festival
The Conrad Nagel Film Festival is a two day celebration of Keokuk, Iowa’s own film star, Conrad Nagel. Beginning his career as a silent film actor, he continued to work in the film business through the 1950s. The Conrad Nagel Film Festival celebrates his life and career, as well as the long legacy he left behind. This event is a fun and immersive way to not only discover more about Iowa’s cinematic past, but it’s also a reason to put on your classic Hollywood gown and walk the red carpet. Produced by Main Street Keokuk, Inc., proceeds from this event go toward downtown Keokuk revitalization. The 2020 Festival will feature Nagel, Howard Hughes (Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins lived and are buried in Keokuk), and Russell Arms, of Hit Parade fame also with ties to Keokuk.
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.
Des Moines Latino Film Festival
The Des Moines Latino Film Festival is a free, multi-day celebration of Latino culture through art, music, food, live performances and, of course, film. Inspired by the annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, leaders at the Latino Center of Iowa founded the Des Moines festival in 2021 to contribute to the momentum of Iowa’s growing Latino community. The multi-media event is designed to elevate and amplify Latino voices, including local filmmakers, and it warmly welcomes audiences of all ages and backgrounds to join the celebration.
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, and much more. Halloweenapalooza is appropriately held at the historic and haunted Hotel Ottumwa to further enhance your horror film experience.
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 City International Documentary Film Festival
The Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival (ICDOCS) is an annual event run by students at the University of Iowa. Their mission is to engage local audiences with the exhibition of recent short films that explore the boundaries of nonfiction filmmaking. They seek innovative new works of 30 minutes or less that both complicate and expand upon conventional approaches to nonfiction and documentary.
Iowa Independent Film Festival
Founded in 2007, the Iowa Independent Film Festival brings independent films, unique documentaries, and student productions from local, national, and international filmmakers as well as prominent actors, producers, and directors. The festival is hosted jointly in Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa and includes workshops, seminars, director Q & A’s, as well as networking opportunities. It’s a festival so big it takes two cities to host it!
Jean Seberg Festival of the Arts
The Jean Seberg Festival of the Arts is a biannual tribute to the spirit of Marshalltown’s most famous actor. Film, fashion shows, student-made movies, as well as retrospective engagements of Ms. Seberg’s history are all a part of the Festival. It is hosted by the Iowa Valley Community College District’s Orpheum Theater, a historic venue located in downtown Marshalltown.
Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival (JDIFF) is a 5-day event in downtown Dubuque that not only brings the finest in independent features, documentaries and short films from across the country and around the world, but many of the filmmakers themselves. Attendees come to watch, discuss and support important and interesting films, and enhance the festivals standing as a leading promoter of arts, culture and education. JDIFF is known for the quality of films shown, as well as the panels, workshops and opportunities throughout the festival for attendees and filmmakers and was voted one of the "Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World" by MovieMaker Magazine.
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, and filmmakers are encouraged to participate in a Question and Answer session after their film screens. Participants will also appreciate theme-based film blocks and Muscatine’s downtown historic district, where the after-parties and awards are held.
Oneota Film Festival
The Oneota Film Festival (OFF, now in its 11th Season) is a local, non-profit arts organization dedicated to bringing great films about important issues to Northeast Iowa. Our mission is to show independent films that inform, inspire, and engage our audience. These films include documentaries, student films, fiction films, and animations. All OFF events are FREE for everyone to attend and often appropriate for all ages. OFF is made possible by the generous donations of our sponsors, members, and event attendees.
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 University in Sioux Center, Iowa, this top-shelf event is a great way to shake the mid-winter cold and exercise sleep-optional creativity in a mere two days.
Refocus Film Festival
FilmScene in Iowa City started the Refocus Film Festival in 2022, with films, conversations, performances, and art inspired by the work of adaptation. The festival focuses on transforming one art form into another, such as a book into a movie. Movie lovers will rejoice at the opportunity to take in multiple films each day, with screenings preceded by performances by local artists to form a kaleidoscopic impression of the many artistic disciplines that inform our big screen experience. In addition, a series of curated dialogues, in collaboration with Iowa City Book Festival will take us deeper into conversation about how an idea journeys from page to screen. And yes, of course, there will be special guests, parties, and celebration!
Sioux City International Film Festival
Launched in 2005, the Sioux City International Film Festival (SCIFF) is the longest continuously running shorts festival in Iowa. Festival organizers, all volunteers, make film selections from hundreds of local, national, and international submissions and produce an outstanding, three-day program. Filmmakers and film enthusiasts participate in workshops, hear from industry guest speakers, and, of course, enjoy films. SCIFF is held each year in the fall and is headquartered at the downtown Promenade Cinema with state-of-the-art projection and recliner seating. Filmmakers enjoy a theatrical release of their independent films and attendees delight in screening films from all genres and all parts of the world. All festival activities take place in the heart of Sioux City, on Historic Fourth Street, with the best lodging, restaurants, and bars all within easy walking distance.
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 350 people.