Most Popular Sci-Fi Film Festivals

9 May

By Ozzie

5th. article in our 7week series on Sci-Fi/Fantasy

With our Sci-Fi/Fantasy series slowly coming to its end, we decided to look at the most popular Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festivals so our readers could continue delving deeper into this world! It goes without saying that there are many Sci-Fi Film Festivals out there, so we had a difficult time trying to narrow it down. If there’s a favourite that’s not mentioned, please feel free to add them in the comments section!

San Diego Comic-Con International

  • Comic-Con or the San Diego Comic-Con International to give it its full name, was founded in 1970. Originally named Golden State Comic Book Convention, it has grown to be the largest convention in North America and the fourth largest in the world (the first three are solely focused on comic books). Although it started purely for comic books it soon added a film section. It started the Comic-Con International Film Festival where movies that don’t have distribution deals are shown.[1] Also up and coming feature films and TV programmes can show previews and hold panel discussions with their stars and creators. This year it will be held on the 12th to the 15th of July.[2] There’s not much news regarding the film line up, giving its close proximity to the start date, news will be coming thick and fast soon!

Fantasia International Film Festival

  • The Fantasia International Film Festival, or simply called FanTasia, originally started out as a festival that showed Asian fantasy and action films in 1996. However, it quickly expanded to include sci-fi, fantasy, action and horror films from around the world. The festivals aim is to bring a wider audience to smaller lesser known films and film makers alongside some wider known film makers and classic films. It fashions itself to be like the Sitges Fantastic Film Festival and wishes to become the North American version. The festival also holds a competition like more traditional film festivals do. FanTasia takes place in Montreal and the next festival starts on the 19th of July and ends on the 7th of August.[3] News is scarce at the moment (the website goes live in July) but going on past films, it sure to have a good line up this year too. Previous films shown are Shaun of the Dead, Jeepers Creepers 2, Ringu, Let the Right One In, Thirst and Inglourious Basterds.[4]

Fantastic Fest

  • Fantastic Fest takes place in Austin, Texas and was established in 2005. It’s one of the largest film festivals in the U.S.A solely for sci-fi, fantasy and horror films. In just a few short years, it has quickly become one of the most popular genre film festivals in the U.S.A.[5] Fantastic Fest seems to be an eccentric mix of a film festival and a fan convention.[6] While hosting a competition, also present is its arcade (adding an independent gaming section) and hijinks such as “knuckle debates” (industry professionals debate a fan issue, then fighting in the ring to end the issue once and for all!). This festival also shows small foreign movies as well as more main stream films and classics too. Many film professionals attend Fantastic fest also. This year’s fest goes from the 20th – 27th of September. News about the film line up will start being announced in late July.[7]

Sci-Fi London

  • The Sci-Fi London Film Festival is now in its 11th year and has just finished its 2012 festival (it ran from the 1st to the 7th of May).[8] They show low budget and/or foreign films alongside documentaries and Sci-Fi classics. There is a challenge to make a short film in just 48 hours.[9] The winners are offered a feature film development deal with Vertigo Films. Runner ups could still be offered some kind of deal with other companies. Last year the festival started a Sci-Fi Parade, where visitors can dress up in whatever Sci-Fi/Fantasy related they like! This year’s classic films shown were Paul Verhoeven’s films Robocop, Total Recall, Hollow Man and Starship Troopers.[10] Also there was a tribute to Boris Karloff, who is well known for his Frankenstein portrayal. The tribute included not just Frankenstein but his role in other films, The Invisible Ray, The Black Cat, The Mask of Fu Manchu and Black Friday. It was a big year for Star Trek fans too. Two must see documentaries had their premiers there. The first, The Captains had its UK premier at the festival. Directed by William Shatner, it follows him meeting other Star Trek Captains and them sharing their experiences with him. The other is the beautifully shot Trek Nation, a documentary by Star Trek’s creator’s (Gene Roddenberry) son exploring the impact his father’s work had with fans. It features never seen before home footage and interviews with former cast, celebrity fans and most importantly, the general fandom![11]

Sitges Film Festival

  • Sitges Film Festival (Sitges is a coastal town in Spain, not far from Barcelona) is one of the oldest fantasy and horror film festivals around. It was founded in 1967, and mostly shows films that are classified as fantasy or horror. The festival attracts the world’s famous media professionals and most critically praised fantasy/horror films have been shown here, either as new releases or as classic or in some cases both! Like any other prestigious film festival, it has its own competition with many categories.[12] Although this year’s festival doesn’t start till the 4th of October (and ends on the 14th), there has already been a small news announcement. [13]“The End of the World” has been chosen as this year’s iconic theme art work. Despite most of the festival being focused on work, there is a fun side to it too.[14] There’s an annual “Zombie Walk”, where festival goers dress as zombies go to its beach party and later on to local bars that are involved with the festival. Or they can attend a zombie movie marathon!

Wonder Con

  • Wonder Con was founded in 1987 and was initially called the Wonderful World of Comics Convention.[15]  Its popularity grew and in 2001 the owners decided to partner with Comic Con International (who also run the famous San Diego Comic-Con) to help it expand further. Since the deal it has gone on to become even more popular! While Comic Con has expanded into other genres, Wonder Con remains focused on Comic Books, Science Fiction and movies/TV programmes of those two genres only. This year’s convention was on the 16th to the 18th of March in Anaheim, California. Usually it is held in San Francisco but the usual centre where it is held is undergoing renovation so it was moved to Anaheim.[16] This year the convention held panels and sneak peeks at some of the most anticipate films of this year. Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Resident Evil: Retribution and Amazing Spider-Man were prominent features at the festival.[17]

Please join us for a discussion Thursday 5/10/2012@7pmE/12UTC

40 Responses to “Most Popular Sci-Fi Film Festivals”

  1. Comic Relief May 9, 2012 at 5:48 PM #


    With all this detail and scope (re; the topic) really great article. Thanks for moving off American shores as well.

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

      Thank you CR!

      • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

        You’re very welcome.

        • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

          Much of this was new to me, but “FanTasia” was completely unfamiliar. Thanks.

  2. parisienne May 10, 2012 at 12:07 AM #


    Great Article! How are films chosen to be shown at the festivals? What is the process?

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 7:08 PM #

      I’m not sure but I would think that the producers would send a copy to the organisers, which they would watch and then decide if it would suit their festival or not.

  3. 4string May 10, 2012 at 2:45 PM #

    Would Dragon-Con also fall under this category?

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 7:10 PM #

      If it shows films, then yes. Unfortunately, I read about so many festivals, they’re all blurring into one! I’ll just go and look it up!

      • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

        Yes it can! It has a 4 day festival that takes place some time during the convention dates.

  4. parisienne May 10, 2012 at 7:36 PM #


    Out of all the festivals you read about which one would you be most interested in attending,if you could, and why?

    • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

      Hi everyone,

      ….catching up!!!!

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

      Oh gosh, this is a hard one! It’s going to have to be more than one! First, Comic Con because it’s so large and there’s so much to see and doo. Second, Wonder Con because it it a much more intimate and more comic book/sci-fi genre based than comic con. Thirdly, Fantastic Fest because it sounds like it would alot of fun! Finally fourth, Sitges Film Festival because it’s like Cannes film festival but for horror/fantasy/sci-fi.

      • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

        Thank you so much.

        This might call for more of a personalized evaluation, but….

        1. Do you believe comic books as a Sci Fi sub-genre are sucking up too much attention given that is sounds like Wonder Con, Fantastic Fest, and Sitges Film Festival seemed to be preoccupied with traditional SCI-FI only?

        • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:06 PM #


          2. Do you believe Fantasy is equally represented, or are their places where it is more likely to get an isolated viewing?

          • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

            I think Dragon Con would be best for fantatsy but there are probably alot more!

      • Open Book May 10, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

        So maybe u just answered my Q Oz!!

        I’m a bit of a novice in this and rarely am I attracted to films that combined both fantasy and sci-fi. I have concluded maybe the reason for this because sci-fi tends to be more rooted in realism which attracts a different audience. Yet, Sitges combines all three genres horror/fantasy & sci-fi. Is this new?

        • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

          I’m learning so much

        • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

          Well as the festival was established in 1967, I would guess no.

  5. Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 7:45 PM #


    Would you describe your process for building this article? I guess we don’t always ask this but I wondered how you made your selection(s) within the topic.

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

      Well first I made a list of all festivals that contained a large amount of sci-fi in them. Then I narrowed it down to just the ones that included film screenings. After, that I cut it down to the well known ones. Finally, I narrowed that list down to the ones posted as they seemed to generate the most press and attendance. That was very hard to do because there were lot’s of well known ones, I think my list was around 15-20 festivals before that final cut. I didn’t want a long list of festivals and descriptions of them, as that would be very boring! .

      • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

        Thanks, but I don’t think your articles are ever boring. You shouldn’t have worried.

        • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

          Lol, thank you!

  6. Open Book May 10, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    I just saw the Avengers in 3-D. I have a question for Oz!

    The Avengers combined both sci-fi & fantasy. It seems sci-fi and fantasy festivals are kept separate. I see fantasy and horror are combined but not sci-fi fantasy. Yet, the Avengers combined the two pretty well. Do u think this is a new trend?

    • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

      Hi OB!!!

      • Open Book May 10, 2012 at 7:59 PM #


    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

      Well for me, fantasy and sci-fi have always merged together well the same way fantasy and horror do, but that’s just my wierd thinking. I would think if Avengers is doing well, then yes it would become a new trend.

      • Open Book May 10, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

        Who are the short film winners of the Sci-Fi London film fest? Have they been announced yet?

        • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 8:37 PM #

          They’ve narrowed it down to 20, they’re going to announce the final 10 soon. After that, I gues the next announcement after that is the final 5 or the winner.

    • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:14 PM #


      In the Avengers, what would you distinguish as fantasy versus sci-fi?

      Ozzie, if you want to weigh in, please do.

      • Open Book May 10, 2012 at 8:21 PM #

        Thor vs. Iron Man. Sci-Fi lab experiments Cap A & the Hulk. Also, super human qualities of Black Widow and Hawk Eye up against Loki/Fantasy.

        • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

          Cool. I was just wondering what you thought.

  7. Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:10 PM #


    I only became familiar with this topic recently. Previously I wasn’t really aware of Non-western SCI but here are some examples in the form of trailers. Were these producers fairly well represented

    From Asia: Hong Kong:
    City Under Siege

    From Africa: South Africa

    From South and Latin America; Mexico
    Mexican Masked Wrestler Movies: An Introduction

    • Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

      Sorry; “Non-western “SCI- FI”

      • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 9:31 PM #

        Well out of the list, I would say that comic con and wonder con would probably not cover them. The others do show foreign films but I’d have to check to see if they were actually shown in the festivals.

        • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM #

          Ok, a quick search showed none of thesefilms were shown at the festivals but I’m very tired so I could of missed them. If you’re talking about the actual areas, then yes they are represented in one or more of the festivals.

          I better get some sleep now because I don’t think I’m making any sense, and I’m sure I’m not serching properly either, lol!

  8. Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:32 PM #


    We’ve talked about Comic Con before. Do you think this festival does a good job of reaching out to new and non-initiated fans of the widest range of books or is it just big trade show for Marvel and DC?

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

      I think that’s down to personal opinion. I think it does a good job to reaching out to a new audience.

  9. Open Book May 10, 2012 at 8:37 PM #


    I have to go. Ozzie great article. I have more questions so I will come back later.


  10. Comic Relief May 10, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

    Great article Ozzie. I’ll return later to catch any answers i missed. Thanks a lot.

    • ozzie20 May 10, 2012 at 9:17 PM #

      Thank you for coming tonight, OB and CR! Sorry, i’ve been on such a slow speed. I probably will have just finished replying when you come back, lol! Have a great night! 🙂

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