About the Festival

The dates of the festival are Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 – Sunday, November 12th. The first week will be held at the Dipson Theaters Eastern Hills Cinema, located in the Eastern Hills Mall in Williamsville, New York, outside Buffalo. The final three days will be held at the Screening Room Cinema Cafe, located in the Boulevard Mall in Amherst, New York, also outside Buffalo.

Buffalo Dreams is a filmmaker friendly event which celebrates the best independent films from around the world in the following categories: Action, Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction and Thriller. The festival separates content into three divisions: North American (U.S. and Canada), International, and Western New York. The Young Student Filmmaker Award is limited to Western New Yorkers and aims to introduce students under age 17 to the film festival experience. In addition, the Original Screenplay competition is always judged by a professional writer, and the five finalists receive notes from the judge. This year, the competition will be judged by acclaimed horror and humor author Jeff Strand.

The festival also launches the Lois Weber Award, named in honor of the first American female filmmaker, who directed 135 films, wrote 114, and acted in 100. Weber is credited with pioneering the split screen technique, and was the first woman to own her own film studio. According to film historian Anthony Slide, “Along with D.W. Griffith, Lois Weber was the American cinema’s first genuine auteur, a filmmaker involved in all aspects of production and one who utilized the motion picture to put across her own ideas and philosophies.” The Lois Weber Award is designed to recognize the achievements of contemporary female filmmakers (screenwriters, directors, producers) for films of any length.

Lamberson and Scioli intend to showcase approximately 100 of the best movies submitted: features (70 mins – 120 mins); short features (31 – 69 mins); and short films (1 – 30 mins). Music videos may be submitted as short films, and web series may be submitted in the category with the corresponding running time.

Buffalo Dreams does not screen films in hotel banquet rooms or bars. The festival directors believe every selected film deserves to be seen on a big screen in a real theater. Their philosophy is to screen only one film at a time, with no counterprogramming. Patrons who wish to experience the entire festival should never have to choose between films.

The festival’s programmers like bold, original and edgy films that are well made. There is even a “WTF” category for the most outrageous films selected – films that surprise with their originality and unpredictability as much as they entertain. But in terms of dramas, they also like delicate, beautiful films. The programmers accept film submissions that would receive an NC-17 rating, but will not show pornography. The festival no longer accepts “fan films” featuring copyrighted characters, and every film must contain only original or licensed music.

Buffalo Dreams only accepts online submissions. Exhibition copies of features can be DCP, Blu-ray and DVD (US region only), or a digital file. Exhibition copies of shorts and short features must be digital files. Exhibition copies of whatever nature must be received no later than October 20th, or 10 days after we announce selections. Any film not received by that date may be withdrawn by the festival.

By submitting your film to Buffalo Dreams, you grant to the festival the right to share your completed film with local film reviewers – for this purpose you may provide an additional watermarked version; to provide (for features) a trailer and poster image; and the right to feature your trailer and poster in advertisements and social media promotions. The festival directors cannot properly promote your feature without a trailer.


We do not offer waivers. Because we rent two venues for the festival to screen all of our selections on a big screen, we need to charge submission fees to cover those costs. Any request for a waiver will be ignored – with one exception: we sympathize with filmmakers who live in oppressed countries such as Iran, who are prohibited from submitting their work to U.S. film festivals. We believe artists who live in such countries deserve to have their work seen, and it is our responsibility as the directors of an international film festival to help make that happen, so we will consider waiver requests from filmmakers who live under these extremely difficult political circumstances. This is the only exception we will make.

We do not require submitted films to have been completed within any specific time frame, as long as they are finished by the festival deadline.

We will only screen films which have not already been distributed. We do not mind if a film has a distribution deal in place, as long as it has not been released to the public at the time of the festival. With the exception of web series, we will not screen films that are available online.

We will consider films that are in the rough cut stage, but encourage filmmakers to contact us first to discuss their film’s status. In the event that a film is not completed in time to deliver a completed exhibition copy by the October 20th deadline, we reserve the right to screen the film the following year.

We do not insist on any premiere status, we just want good films. With regards to local films, it does not make sense for us to screen films that have already screened at other local film festivals, and certainly not films which have premiered or screened in the month previous to the festival.

We encourage out of town filmmakers to attend the festival, but there is absolutely no requirement or pressure to do so. We will arrange a discounted hotel on your behalf, but are unable to pay for visiting filmmakers’ travel or lodging expenses.

We expect local filmmakers whose work we select to attend their screening, and we strongly recommend they participate in the festival, which provides excellent networking and learning opportunities. Filmmakers have traveled to Buffalo Dreams from Australia, the UK, Mexico and from all over the United States to screen their work. Local filmmakers need to step up their game and support other films screened at the festival, attending filmmakers, and other local artists. We also expect local filmmakers to promote their screening to family and friends, which is the best way to ensure a successful screening.

We offer two free passes good for the entire festival to every film that is submitted, in the submitter’s name, whether the film is selected or not. We offer four free passes good for the entire festival, in the submitter’s name, to every film selected for screening. The same courtesy is extended to Original Screenplay Competition submitters. Filmmaker passes are not mailed out, and must be picked up at the venue once the festival has started.

While we consider the categories of Comedy and Fantasy self explanatory, we offer the following additional comments for our other categories:

Action: For our purposes, this category also includes crime dramas, westerns and war films. We love westerns! Audiences expect action films to e extremely well executed, with a level of professionalism not necessarily demanded of indie films in other genres.

Animation: We are actively seeking to increase our animation programming – cell animation, stop motion, and CG.

Documentary and Drama: Our primary venue caters to an art house audience, and we wish to appeal to that audience for our matinee screenings. Documentaries should engage our patrons on a human interest level. Dramas should be accessible to a general audience. For international dramas, we are looking for beautiful films that will transport our patrons to new locales and showcase different cultures.

Family: Our Buffalo Dreams Family Film Festival section includes children’s films, family films, and films made by children and young student filmmakers.

Horror: Prior to launching Buffalo Dreams, Lamberson and Scioli collaborated on Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival. Horror still comprises a large portion of our programming (although this depends on the submissions we receive and could change any given year). We want the best horror films being made today, films which are original and daring, suggestive or in your face. We also like films – in all genres – which emulate the styles and techniques of the past (“Retro Movies”).

Science Fiction: We’ve screened excellent science fiction films the last few years, and see that as an area for growth.

Thriller: Suspense films of all types.

Original Screenplay Competition: We accept unproduced, feature length screenplays in all genres. Submitted screenplays should include the title of the work on the title page, but not the screenwriter’s name. Our selection committee will narrow the list of submitted screenplays down to 10 semi-finalists, then five finalists, which will then be sent to this year’s guest screenplay judge, horror/humor/YA author Jeff Strand, who will select First, Second and Third place finishers. Strand will also provide each of the five finalists with script notes. The First Place winner will receive a plaque, and the Second and Third Place finishers will receive certificates.

The Dreamer Awards: The festival will hold an in-theater awards presentation at the Eastern Hills Cinema on Sunday, Nov. 5th. Winners will receive plaques. This year, we plan to award a custom statue to the Best of the Fest winner. All selected films are eligible for this award, not just features.

We look forward to experiencing your work!