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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPRM chapter.

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your streaming platforms and feeling like you’ve seen it all or there’s nothing new and exciting to watch? Would you describe yourself as an adventurous film enthusiast? Do you enjoy supporting independent or upcoming filmmakers? Are you interested in learning about the film industry? If you resonated with any of these questions, then I’d definitely recommend you attend a film festival. 

Film Festivals are events organized to showcase a uniquely curated list of national and/or international films from different genres that fit a specific audience or theme. Along with the film screenings, they usually offer a variety of other events such as Q&A sessions, interviews, competitions, panels, workshops, cast introductions, autograph sessions, merchandise sales, etc. You name it, they have it.

The combination of these events creates a dynamic experience that is perfect for any film enthusiast looking to enjoy all aspects of the film industry and is a MUST HAVE experience for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to make a name for themselves in the industry.

So, if you’re still debating on whether to attend a film festival or not, allow me to share some of the reasons why I think you should go through with it:

  • Reason #1: Get A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Watch Films

Seriously, you can’t find them anywhere else! Since a lot of the films submitted to these festivals come from independent filmmakers or production companies, most of them aren’t available at your average movie theater or streaming platform. 

As someone who hates missing out on experiences, this reason is enough to get my introverted self out the door, so do yourself a favor and enjoy those once-in-a-lifetime films! 

  • Reason #2: Gain Access to Niche Films

If you’re a sucker for those very specific, extremely niche films that most people don’t know about, then a film festival is the place for you. Usually, independent filmmakers tend to gravitate towards experimental styles, especially ones that stray from your typical box-office film experience. So you’re more likely to find a very specific type of film and/or genre that isn’t mainstream. 

Looking for a samurai-inspired jíbaro film with lots of action and drama? A film festival is your best bet.

  • Reason #3: Enjoy Back-to-Back Films (Movie marathon anyone?)

If you’ve ever used a streaming platform, whether you paid for your subscription or stole a family member’s password, then you’re no stranger to binge watching content for multiple hours without end. Now, imagine if you could do that while sitting in a movie theater with friends, family, and/or other film enthusiasts? 

One could say a film festival is like an in-person Netflix Party experience with a unique movie selection. 

Bonus reason: Film festivals are also a unique date idea for any movie lovers out there. Think of it as the classy version of a “Netflix and Chill” experience.

  • Reason #4: Explore Your Film Tastes

Expand your film horizons! As film enthusiasts and aspiring filmmakers, we should always aspire to diversify our film knowledge and so festivals are the perfect place to explore other types of films that you’re unfamiliar with. Take advantage of the variety in genres, lengths, topics, stories, countries of origin, and concepts that break away from conventional films and try something new. 

Watch an international film. Sneak a peek at a documentary. Enjoy a bunch of short films. Be adventurous for a change.

  • Reason #5: Get Exclusive Premiere Access to Films

Are you the type of movie enthusiast that watches a movie the first day it hits theaters? Do you hate spoilers with the  burning passion of a thousand suns?  Well, you’re in luck. Some film festivals offer audiences the opportunity to watch a movie premiere, so you could have first-access to a film that hasn’t been screened anywhere else. 

This year, Puerto Rican audiences got a chance to watch Blue Beettle (2023) days before it made it to theaters at the Puerto Rico Film Festival. And not only did they watch the film, but they also got to meet some of the people behind its creation, which leads me to my next point.

  • Reason #6: Meet Professionals from the Industry

Have you ever wanted to meet an actor you enjoy watching? How about that director whose work you admire? Again, a film festival is the place to be because it’s usually where all cast and crew members reunite to watch their films on the big screen. 

That means you’ve got a higher chance of meeting and mingling with actors, directors, producers, directors of photography, and anyone else who was involved in a film’s creation. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, this is your chance to meet people who are actively in the film industry and speak to them. 

Who knows, maybe you can even get a chance to snap a selfie with them. 

  • Reason #7: Start Networking

Mingling is great and all, but you also need to put your business face on and take advantage of this opportunity to get serious about networking. Film festivals are the place where film executives, producers, distributors, and other industry professionals go to scout new talent and opportunities. This is the time for you to greet them, ask questions, and share your business card with them. 

Through film festivals, people are able to secure collaborations, movie deals, full-time jobs, volunteer work, internships, and other opportunities within the industry. That’s why film festivals are a MUST for any aspiring filmmaker. 

So talk to people, make connections, join the afterparties, and do your thing. Remember, it’s all about who you know when it comes to this industry. 

  • Reason #8: For Learning Purposes

Want to learn the ins-and-outs of the film industry directly from experts? Aside from the entertainment aspect of it, film festivals are known for being an information hub where industry professionals share their knowledge and experiences, making it the place to be for any filmmaker—aspiring or accomplished. 

So make sure you attend the panels, Q&As, workshops, and interviews to get the inside on all things film: new technologies, techniques, and concepts. Education matters people! 

  • Reason #9: Showcase Your Work

For those of you who want to make it in the industry and become filmmakers, film festivals are the perfect platform to showcase your work, get feedback, and win awards. As I’ve mentioned before, lots of industry professionals attend these festivals to scout new talent, so use this opportunity as a stepping stone to get one step closer to achieving your dreams. 

Take a chance, make a film, and submit it. 

  • Reason #10: Support Upcoming Filmmakers

At the end of the day, the heart and soul of every film festival lies in its sense of community and its mission to offer a platform for filmmakers to share their passion and craft. By attending a film festival, you’re contributing to an ecosystem that supports upcoming filmmakers and local talents. 

If there’s ever a reason to visit your local film festivals, it’s this one. Helping and supporting each other is key in this industry, so enjoy other people’s films the same way you’d want others to enjoy your own.

And that’s a wrap! I hope this information helped convince you that film festivals are a worthwhile experience for everyone who enjoys films, whether they’re interested in joining the film industry or not. 

If you’re down to experience a film festival, just search for any local ones near you and have fun! 



Carhianie J. Vargas Padín is a writer at the Her Campus UPRM chapter; her topics of interest include all-things film, pop-culture, and community engagement. Aside from her work at Her Campus, she’s a Research Fellow at UPRM’s Oral History Lab (OHL) where she engages in projects aimed at preserving Puerto Rican (hi)stories through oral history, film, and archival work. She’s also co-produced two documentaries: Nuestro pedazo de tierra/ Our Piece of Land (2023) and Todavía estamos aquí/ We Are Still Here (2023). She is an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, majoring in English Literature with minors in Writing and Communication, Art, and Film. When she’s not balancing her studies with her extracurriculars, she spends her days watching films, reading everything from novels to manga and/or fanfiction, and feeding her addiction to YouTube shorts and K-pop—all while aspiring to write the next best story/screenplay.