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Budget-Friendly Film Festivals That Are Worth The Trip

You don't need to blow more than $6,000 for a New York Film Festival pass.

09/12/2017 11:21 EDT | Updated 09/12/2017 11:22 EDT
Courtesy of the Ottawa International Animation Festival

With the Toronto International Film Festival in full swing and the New York Film Festival coming up fast (Sept. 28-Oct. 15), movie buffs may be having some serious FOMO. But with the high cost of festival passes (the lowest level "Bronze pass" for the NYFF is US$5,000) on top of travel expenses, attending a major film festival may be out of reach for the average traveller. Sure, you may be able to score tickets to a screening or two, but, if you want the whole multi-day experience (and, if you're travelling all the way to the festival, of course you do), you typically need to pay.

Just because TIFF or NYFF may be out of your budget doesn't mean you can't have a festival experience of your own. The travel experts at Cheapflights.ca have done their research and compiled a list of 11 affordable film festivals worth travelling for. Each of the below festivals offers budget-friendly festival passes (where you can see all screenings for under CA$630 or US$500) and offers a little something extra for travellers heading to a new city for the fest. So, make some popcorn and read on for your guide to a film festival getaway that doesn't break the bank.

The Montreal World Film Festival, Montreal, Que.

Aug. 24-Sept. 4, 2017

Montreal's Imperial Theatre during the 2016 festival. (Photo: @taurusntravels)

Diversity is key for the Montreal World Film Festival, which boasts a roster of films from all over the world. Fans of international cinema and travellers with an unquenchable wanderlust will appreciate the variety of programming. While it's too late to attend this year's festival, think ahead for next year (the festival takes place at the tail end of August). Purchase the Cinephile pass (around CA$250 for past festivals) for access to all regular screenings and the ability to vote for all audience awards. While in Montreal, be sure to do some exploring of the city's culture. Stretch your legs after a day spent sitting with a stroll through Parc du Mont-Royal and, once you've worked up an appetite, delight your palate with authentic poutine (be sure to ask a local for their recommendations).

Ottawa International Animation Festival, Ottawa, Ont.

Sept. 20-24, 2017

Lights, camera, action in Ottawa. (Photo: Courtesy of the Ottawa International Animation Festival)

Fans of animation should head to the Ottawa International Animation Festival Sept. 20-24 for five days of animated films ranging from classic to cutting edge. Buy the Animapass for CA$235 and gain access to all regular screenings and workshops, as well as after parties. While in Ottawa, tap into your inner child and explore. Check out the views from Parliament Hill (and perhaps try your hand at kayaking or whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River), do some souvenir shopping at ByWard Market and eat your way through the city's thriving culinary scene.

Fantastic Fest, Austin, Texas, U.S.

Sept. 21-28, 2017

Fantastic Fest, Austin, Texas
Fantastic Fest at the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas (Photo: Courtesy of Fantastic Fest)

The largest genre-specific film festival in the U.S., Fantastic Fest is a must for film lovers with an appetite for horror, fantasy, sci-fi and action. Past years have seen the world premieres of favourites like "John Wick," "Zombieland" and "Frankenweenie," but Fantastic Fest also hosts independent genre films that are sure to make an impact. Held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, a must-visit theatre for film lovers, the festival also includes Q&A sessions, film discussions, movie-themed karaoke events and more unique and engaging entertainment. Badges to this year's festival (coming up Sept. 21-28) are sold out, but went for under US$500, or about CA$630, for access to all screenings and festival parties. Plan ahead for next year and, while you wait, consider wetting your whistle at Other Worlds Austin — a sci-fi festival taking place Dec. 7-10 with badges available for less than US$100, or about CA$125.

Screamfest, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.

Oct. 10-19, 2017

Screamfest, Los Angeles, California
A celebration of all things horror. (Photo: Courtesy of Screamfest)

Referred to as the "Sundance of Horror," scary movie aficionados should skip the more expensive Hollywood festivals and head to Screamfest instead. It's the largest and longest-running horror film festival in the U.S. In fact,"Paranormal Activity" first premiered there in 2007. This year's festival takes place Oct. 10-19, and you can check out all screenings for around US$200, about CA$250, or gain access to all screenings and all festival parties for around US$300, about CA$375. Travellers heading to Los Angeles for the fest, held at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre, will be perfectly located to explore Hollywood Boulevard and meander along the Walk of Fame. When the festival ends, rent a car and treat yourself to a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and a well-deserved beach day.

To learn about more budget-friendly film festivals that are worth the trip, go here.

*Prices and availability may vary.

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