7 New England Niche Film Festivals You Can’t Miss

No topic is too particular, strange, or transgressive for these New England niche film festivals coming to a cinema near you.

Western-Massachusetts-native-turned-fake-judge John Hodgman always says, “Specificity is the soul of narrative.” In other words, the more precise a story is, or the more unique the subject matter, the better. Through specificity of content and approach, artists can present audiences with unique characters, stories, and experiences.

The same logic applies to film festivals and the cinema they celebrate. In addition to the dozens of big film fests across the region, film junkies and industry folks alike have privileged access to niche New England film festivals in every state. Movie lovers can see everything from queer romance to cinema written, produced, starring, and directed by folks with hearing impairment. Some of these festivals are right around the corner, while others are still accepting submissions. All reveal subjects that are unique and satisfyingly specific.

AIP Film Festival
April 2 – April 8
Hartford, CT

Hartford’s beautifully designed 1930s-era movie theater continues its yearly film fest for Francophiles, April in Paris, which goes beyond the French New Wave and into the realm of contemporary cinema. Prospective moviegoers have nine opportunities to see French films produced from 1982 to 2016, all of which examine the exceedingly relevant, “effects of crossing borders, from the political to the personal.”

Wicked Queer Film Festival
March 30 – April 9
Various venues
Boston, MA
Laverne Cox in Free CeCe!, Dir. Director Jac Gares, 2016

Laverne Cox in Free CeCe! | Director Jac Gares, 2016

The 33rd incarnation of Boston’s film festival revealing and unpacking the queer experience through documentary, comedy, and drama will feature internationally renowned voices of the queer community and emerging artists alike. Queer film enthusiasts of all kinds have dozens of chances to see films across the city in a new neighborhood each night.

Maine Deaf Film Festival
April 28 – 29
University of Southern Maine
Portland, ME

The 15th annual Maine Deaf Film Festival is the longest-running and perhaps the only film festival of its type in the nation. Programmed and planned in collaboration with students and boasting content exclusively created by deaf folks across the region, MDFF skillfully solves some of the problems of underrepresentation of people with hearing impairments both in front of and behind the camera.

SENE Film Festival
April 25 – 29
Various venues
Rhode Island

With dozens of films ranging from experimental shorts to feature-length animated dramas, SENE provides attendees nearly endless opportunities to pick their vast or small corner of the world to explore. The Wednesday night screenings of experimental films and documentary features is both a can’t-miss evening and an excellent example of the range and specificity of topics explored throughout the festival.

New Hampshire Film Festival
Various venues
Portsmouth, NH
Still from All The President's Heads, Dir. Adam Roffman, 2016

Still from All The President’s Heads | Director Adam Roffman, 2016

With the time for submissions still open, we can’t say for sure what niches the New Hampshire Film Festival will investigate. However, if last year’s programming is any indication, cinephiles will delve into some strange and specific topics. For example, All the President’s Heads, a film about a history devotee who saves two dozen, massive presidential busts from destruction after being displaced by the building of an Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

Independent Television Festival
October 11 – 17
Various Venues
Manchester, VT

Okay. . .this isn’t technically a “film festival.” However, was True Detective (the charcoal dark, riveting serialized HBO murder mystery disguised as a police procedural) a television show or more of a seven-and-a-half-hour movie split into manageable 54-minute chunks? As the line between prestige television and film blurs more each day, so will our categorizations for the sake of this list. Anyway, ITVFest still counts because it’s a moving image festival celebrating a niche part of a hulking industry, a section of the industry that often gets ignored in cinema as well; the independents.

Global Roots Film Festival
April 7 – 9
Contois Auditorium
Burlington, VT
Still from Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, Dirs. Donald Brittain & Don Owen, 1965 | Presented by VT PBS and RETN

Still from Ladies & Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen |
Directors Donald Brittain & Don Owen, 1965 | Presented by VT PBS and RETN

This niche film festival is brought to us by the Vermont International Film Foundation which also presents the yearly Vermont International Film Festival. The Global Roots Film Festival endeavors to bring Vermonters, “great films from the countries of many of the New American communities. . .to foster a greater understanding of our diverse cultures.” This year, Global Roots turns the lens towards contemporary films coming from Quebec.

Top image, still from Signature Move | Director Jennifer Reeder (2017)
John Arvanitis7 New England Niche Film Festivals You Can’t Miss

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