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Lights, Camera, Action!

San Diego film festivals not to miss

Film lovers can find a festival or a movie screening catering to their tastes almost every weekend of the year in San Diego. Hundreds of movies are shown at festivals, showcasing the best cinema from around the world.

San Diego International Film Festival

If you enjoy celebrity-spotting, the red carpet at the San Diego International Film Festival is your best bet. The festival spans five days every fall, with more than 100 independent and studio films screened in two locations: La Jolla and downtown's Gaslamp Quarter. Acclaimed films such as Lion, Denial, Julieta, Hell or High Water and Hidden Figures were screened at the festival before becoming Academy Award winners. Interviews with filmmakers and actors also take place throughout the festival run. Like most of the film organizations in town, this group also programs screenings throughout the year.

San Diego Latino Film Festival

The San Diego Latino Film Festival is one of the oldest, most established film festivals in the county, showcasing the best filmmaking by and about Latinos. The juried festival runs for 11 days and includes filmmakers' appearances, workshops, live music, art exhibitions and gala celebrations. The films are also organized in blocks by theme and subject, which makes it easy to plan according to your interests. Recent blocks have focused on LGBT issues, comedy, documentary and contemporary Mexico.

The Latino Film Festival now has its own screening facility, called the Digital Gym CINEMA, located on El Cajon Boulevard. Independent movies and Latin classics are screened year-round at the Digital Gym, where budding filmmakers can also take workshops on how to make their own movies. The Digital Gym CINEMA has become a hub for film aficionados and independent film in San Diego.

San Diego Asian Film Festival

The San Diego Asian Film Festival has been around for more than 15 years and is one of the leading showcases of Asian cinema in North America, as well as one of the biggest platforms for Asian-American media anywhere. Along with narrative features, the nine-day festival also shows documentaries, short films and animation, as well as works from 21 different countries.

SDAFF Spring Showcase

With so much filmmaking talent and so many stories to share, SDAFF just couldn't fit it all into their annual festival, but they found the perfect solution: the Spring Showcase mini-festival in the spring!

San Diego Jewish Film Festival

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival is the largest Jewish cultural event in San Diego. This festival has traditionally screened documentaries and thought-provoking feature films. Opening up discussion is key to the festival's mission, so there are plenty of Q&A's with filmmakers and panel discussions following screenings.

GI Film Festival

Established in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego aims to reveal the struggles, triumphs and life experiences of service members and veterans through compelling and authentic storytelling. Documentaries, shorts, narratives and family-friendly films are presented, highlighting stories of heroism, resilience and honor.

FilmOut San Diego

FilmOut San Diego, the city's only Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender film festival, screens features and shorts from around the globe. The programmers curate the festival by selecting about 25 of the best films from hundreds of submissions. Audiences can expect to see dramas, romantic comedies and documentaries, all dealing with LGBT themes.

San Diego Italian Film Festival

Fans of Italian film get a real treat every year at the San Diego Italian Film Festival, where 15-20 of the best Italian films are screened. Italian movie stars often make their way to San Diego to present their films and do Q&As with the audience. The organization also holds monthly film screenings throughout the year and fun events such as CineCucina, or Dine on the Docks, where movies and food are combined for a magical evening.

San Diego Black Film Festival

The San Diego Black Film Festival screens more than 100 films spotlighting African-American and African diaspora cinema. Comedy, drama, documentaries, animation, shorts and music videos are all part of the lineup.

San Diego French Film Festival

Check out the best in French-language cinema at the annual San Diego French Film Festival. Presented by the Alliance Française San Diego, the fest is dedicated to showcasing contemporary francophone cinema, screening a wide range of movies that explore and celebrate the culture.

More Film Festivals in San Diego

Smaller but growing film festivals cater to all kinds of niche interests and ages. There's a Surf Film Festival, the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival (a feast for horror fans) and the San Diego International Children's Film Festival, which has plenty of options for the region's youngest film fans.

As this rich menu of festival options demonstrates, San Diego is a city of film fans who support and celebrate the best the art form has to offer.

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