The Salem Film Festival in Salem, Oregon: Combining Quality Indie Films with Legendary Filmmaker Lectures

Out of all indie film festivals around the world, the local ones can sometimes be some of the most impressive and substantive. Even if they don’t have the glitz and glamor of Cannes or the prestige of ones in the U.S., local festivals can turn out to be hidden gems that manage to bring in big names. One of those is the Salem Film Festival in Salem, Oregon. They’ve already established themselves as a perfect place to promote indie film while still attracting some legendary names to give lectures to avid film buffs and students.

The Salem Film Festival Background

Started in 2006, the Salem Film Festival is a community-sponsored event, though has a festival director and lead programmer in local indie theater owner, Loretta Miles. She’s successfully run Salem Cinema, the premier indie film theater in the city, for well over three decades. And she’s made every festival more impressive with each ensuing year.

In more recent years, the festival has brought in many different indie film stars and producers, including some very well-known industry names for lectures. Everyone from “Raging Bull” screenwriter Mardik Martin to local resident Jon Heder (in a screening of “Napoleon Dynamite”) has made appearances here. It may not sound typical for such a small city.

Then again, when you consider Salem is the capital of Oregon and you include Willamette University, you can see why it’s not such a small affair. Because film students are studying here, the Salem Film Festival plays up the educative aspects, plus gives a chance for amateurs and younger people to get involved.

Not Just for Professionals

You won’t find many film festivals that allow a mix of true professionalism with amateur filmmakers. The Salem Film Festival poses challenges to those who want to get their film out there to the masses. They hold a competition before the festival begins that allows everyone from sixth graders on up to adults to submit their own films. These films have to be in four different categories: abstract/artistic, a music video, a short narrative, or a non-fiction piece. And, yes, these have to be short films, which is a perfect starting place when aspiring to be a filmmaker.

In addition, there’s a 72-Hour Challenge competition that gives local residents a chance to create a short film in less than a few days. Winners of these get screened at the festival alongside the major indie films sometimes making their premieres at this festival.

As with all local film fests, though, funding is sometimes a problem. While it’s been held annually without incident, there’s been a lull in the last few years.

The Salem Film Festival Will Return This Year

Due to various funding challenges, the last time the festival took place was in 2011. Yet, that one was very successful financially, though sponsorship and funding is considered more carefully now. The festival has also moved to the spring when it used to take place every October. According to the festival’s website, it’s planning a return this spring at some indefinite point.

While it’s a great place to get your indie film to the public, consider turning to us to gain funding for that project here at Indie Film Funding, Inc. We’ve managed to give full focus to indie films in the crowd funding arena, and we encourage you to contact us to learn more about how you can get started.

Thank you,

Edward Panos