Film fests are a great way to take in a bunch of new and off-the-radar moving pictures -- or talkies, as they're sometimes called. Road trips are great for seeing the world around you and smelling up your car a bit. Why not combine 'em? Here are 17 film festivals you could reasonably hit from a home base in Boulder:

1. Crested Butte Film Festival (September 2011) in West Colorado is putting on their first ever annual event this year and thus we'll leave the description to the folks themselves: "Our mission is to inspire and educate our audience through films and discussions that spark creativity, cultural awareness, and personal, social and environmental change." Sounds unique, eh?

2. Telluride Film Festival (September 2011) leaves all the glorified bullshit aside and has over the years become one of the hippest festivals the world over, a kind of refuge from the other "big fests" in which actors, directors, musicians and you can just chill, enjoy films, seminars and workshops, and not have to worry about things like shameless promotion or even competitions (there are none).

3. Austin Film Festival (October 2011) was founded in 1994 and is the first festival of its kind to focus largely on the writing aspect of the cinematic experience, growing out of Austin's Heart of Film Screenwriters' Conference. AFF still works toward bringing together producers and amateur/professional screenwriters alike in order to assist with the production and sale of new screenplays. All events are open to the public, many free of charge.


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4. Santa Fe Film Festival (October 2011) is a non-profit organization that exhibits "important world cinema in a non-commercial context" representing various components of the media, entertainment and socio-political realms of the aesthetic spectrum.

5. Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival (November 2011) operating out of (surprise!) ultra-conservative Colorado Springs might seem a bit sexist, but since it's for women and not men, all's good in the hood! Though the bulk of the films shown are curated, the elitists who run the fest are salright with screening your unsolicited flicks that take stock in the power of women in film. Now more than ever!

6. Starz Denver Film Festival (November 2011) takes place just down the street in Denver, a place that might have none of the advantages of most big American cities but does at least have all their normal disadvantages. The largest festival of its kind in our area, 200 films are shown through the offices of 175 international filmmakers, so after almost 35 years, you know it's gotta be good!

7. Palm Springs International Film Festival (January 2012) has gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious film festivals in the country after 21 years of exhibiting new, emerging voices while also acting as a showcase for professionals looking to gain exposure for their latest works. The town is indeed in the middle of the desert, but hey, it's America.

8. Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January 2012) takes place on the tiny coastal town of Santa Barbara, Calif., where you can enjoy the beach along with 11 days of independent films, world premieres and rubbing elbows with likes of past honorees Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio.

9. Sundance Film Festival (January 2012) takes place every year in beautiful Park City, Utah, where the crème de la crème of the independent (and, these days, mainstream) cinema world congregate in order to ski, party, mingle, spend loads of money and even watch a few flicks or two, many of which are already set for release through companies the festival used to directly defy. But, hey, it's show business, right, folks?!

10. Boulder International Film Festival (February 2012) proudly stands right in our own humble town and has, in less than a decade, become one of the coolest and fastest growing fests the world over. Last year we had Oliver Stone and James Franco onsite, so you never know who'll be there next year!

11. Durango Independent Film Festival (March 2012) is Southwest Colorado's premiere film festival which exhibits shorts, features and docs in nine specialized programs including Family, Sports/Adventure, Native American, School, Animated and more.

12. South by Southwest (March 2012) is an Austin, Texas, staple that has the esteemed honor of being a still-hip-after-all-these-years festival along with also being a fantastic springboard for newbies who are looking to gain some first-time recognition. Music and emerging technologies also have a platform at this festival that literally overtakes the entire town.

13. Taos Shortz Film Fest (March 2012) will be celebrating its fifth year in the environmentally-friendly, spiritual little community hidden away in the splendid New Mexico landscape this next year. Over 100 filmmakers from all over the country get together at the TSFF to screen short films that really speak to issues that matter.

14. Aspen Shortsfest (April 2012) has been recognized by indieWIRE as one of the world's "50 Leading Film Festivals" and is an international showcase for any short film that is 40 minutes or less. The festival also qualifies for Academy Award consideration, so you're sure to see (or maybe even show?) something that might have a life of its own soon after...

15. Cheyenne International Film Festival (May 2012) is a new festival up in Wyoming that is still on the grow and has already attracted local and international filmmakers alike. Not too far from Boulder, the festival focuses on community relations and the integral aspects of the intimacies of filmmaking.

16. Mountainfilm in Telluride (May 2012) is one of America's longest-running festivals, having started in 1979. This fest specializes in "inspiring" audiences through films that touch upon specialized issues and through full-day symposiums on topics at hand.

17. Los Angeles Film Festival (June 2012) is a ten-day annual festival that attracts nearly 100,000 visitors every year, making it one of the largest film festivals in the country. Specializing in independent features, shorts and music videos, LA Film Fest is presented by the Los Angeles Times, screens over 100 films, is operated by the same folks who put on the Independent Spirit Awards and also involves the participation of the Directors Guild of America.

*Dates for future festivals subject to change. More info available at bulletfilm.com.