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AIFF: Empowering Filmmakers, Enriching Festivals, Embracing Independent Vision

In a whirlwind of excitement at the 2023 Kingston International Film Festival last June, the birth of the Association of Independent Film Festivals (AIFF) was officially announced. AIFF was then launched on the 20th of August at the Garden Cinema in Covent Garden during an exciting evening of screenings, a Q&A session with the filmmakers, and fantastic networking opportunities.

AIFF was established by a collective of UK-based film festivals, and is committed to promoting best practices and providing safeguards for filmmakers. This initiative was prompted in response to the vast global film festival landscape - comprising more than 12,000 festivals - with limited safeguards for filmmakers and their creations. AIFF offers filmmakers a sense of assurance, security and community through it's membership.

As acknowledged by AIFF on their website, filmmakers often face numerous challenges when navigating the film festival circuit. These include the escalating costs associated with festival submissions, the proliferation of online-only "film festivals" that solicit submissions without screening the films, physical festivals that misrepresent their events or venues, an absence of transparency in the selection processes, and the prevalence of fraudulent festivals solely aimed at making money.

In recognition of these scams that target filmmakers, the AIFF charter has been developed by the directors of several prominent UK film festivals, including KIFF’s very own festival director David Cunningham, to protect those submitting to and attending festivals. The AIFF mission statement is that they are committed to sharing best practice, offering advice and encouraging a more equitable film festival experience. AIFF helps to assure filmmakers that they are submitting to legitimate and reputable festivals.

Above: Some of AIFF's founding members.

On the 20th of August, audience members and filmmakers alike gathered at the Garden Cinema - a gem tucked away in the heart of London and exuding Art Deco charm - to celebrate the launch of the Association of Independent Film Festivals. The event included a two-hour collective screening of short films handpicked by each of the current AIFF festivals. Kingston International Film Festival, for instance, showcased the gripping 'A Moral Man' starring Toby Jones and directed by the talented duo Paul and Simon Wade. This was the winner of KIFF’s 'Best Short Film' Award at the 2023 ceremony, and it was showcased amongst seven other short films such as ‘UNCLE’ directed by Michelle Jones and ‘Voices’ directed by Abbie Lucas.

A riveting Q&A session ensued, where the directors, screenwriters, actors, and producers from the screened films selected by the AIFF festivals revealed their inspirations behind their creations, and spoke of the full process from page to screen. Hosted by Angela Peters (RIGHT) from Tweetfest and Boris Bosilkov (LEFT) from St. Andrews Film Festival, this was a rare opportunity for the audience to peer behind the curtain and witness the magic in the process of filmmaking.

With AIFF's spectacular debut in Covent Garden, the stage is set for a future brimming with both opportunity and security for independent filmmakers. We look forward to a more protected world of indie filmmaking!

Have a look at AIFF’s website here, and Instagram page here for more information, including on how to become a member.

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