Big Water has been drawing filmmakers and filmgoers to the shore of Lake Superior for a decade. With our opening night gala reception held at the bar across the street from the theater, our Saturday morning filmmaker discussion (Cinema and Cinnamon Rolls), and our friendly vibe and enthusiastic audiences, we have come to be good friends with a number of filmmakers who come back year after year (whether or not they have a new film to show), and we look forward to making new friends every year. The Big Water Film Festival is held in Ashland, Wisconsin at the Bay Theater, with events in nearby Bayfield and Drummond. Films of all genres are welcome!

November 7-11

BWFF values your work and devotes a fair amount of its budget to awards. The Big Water Film Festival awards the following prizes: Best Feature, Best Short, Best Short-Short, Best Documentary, Audience Favorite, and the Loren Savitsky Young Filmmaker Award. Each award comes with a certificate, a beautiful hand-made award bowl, and $150.

1. We do not stream films at the Festival. Accepted films will have to send us a hard copy (DVD, Blu-Ray, or DCP) for festival screening. Some exceptions can be made where international shipping would be difficult, and where a downloadable link can be provided. We want to show your film under the best possible conditions, which is why we do not want to run the risk of interruptions due to internet problems.
2. The entrant certifies to the Festival that he/she/it has the right to submit the film and all visual or sound elements contained in the film, to the Festival, and to consent to the public showing of the film, and will defend and hold harmless the Festival, its committee members, and sponsors for any costs or damages associated with any copyright or other intellectual property or other claim (such as but not limited to libel, slander, or invasion of privacy) associated with the film or its submittal.
3. The entrant grants to the Festival the right to use the film, any trailer(s), still photos, publicity materials, and information about the cast and crew to promote the Festival.
4. If the film is accepted, entrant grants to the Festival the right to show the film at the 2018 Festival. The Festival will not be obligated to withdraw the film from the Festival unless entrant provides notice to the Festival of the film's withdrawal before October 1, 2018.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Kara Hakanson

    I will be honest and admit that my opinion is a bit biased. Being a half local to the area, the festival was already near and dear to my heart without having ever attended before. I was not let down! The programmers are incredibly kind and you can tell that they just simply love film. I was thoroughly impressed to see films from around the word - something I did not expect to see at a film festival in northern Wisconsin in a relatively small town! There are fantastic networking opportunities and a well-worth it award ceremony. If anything, this festival is worth it just to be up in northern Wisconsin for a weekend for a festival that feels simultaneously small and cozy as well as a step forward in your filmmaking career. Thanks Big Water Film Festival!

    January 2018
    Bigwaterfilmlogo
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for your support and kind words for the Big Water Film Festival, Kara! It was our pleasure to meet you and to screen your film. Good luck with your future filmmaking. Please come back and see us again!

  • Such a great festival - highly recommended!

    November 2017
    Bigwaterfilmlogo
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Jacob. Come visit us next time!

  • Cy Dodson

    A delightful festival on the "Big Water" of Lake Superior. Big Water had very engaged audience in a comfortable theater . Handcrafted awards and cash prizes make this festival worthy of the $10 entry fee.
    Highly recommended for a weekend trip to this lovely festival.

    November 2017
    Bigwaterfilmlogo
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Cy, and thanks for attending the Festival. We've heard good things about the next film and would to see it.

  • This festival has been around for 10 years and really knows how to run a successful event, I can't believe they don't have a ton of reviews! This was my first experience with the BWFF, and I would highly recommend submitting to them. Everything about this festival felt original, from their custom laurels to their awards that are hand thrown pottery from a local artist. From the beginning things were top notch. Their acceptance email was warm and came with a custom certificate, plus they have one of coolest looking laurels out there. Communication was great and my questions were always answered in a timely manner. They put together a nice pic/bio for all of the films on their website and they play your films trailer in between the screening blocks. The screenings themselves take place in a retro, neon light theater, in what looks like a fun seaside town. I wasn't able to attend the festival, but judging from the pics they posted on FB, the event was well attended. BWFF was great about updating their FB page with trailers for the projects playing and just did a nice job in general with getting the word out about the films screening at their festival. This is def a festival I plan on submitting all of my future projects to!

    November 2017
    Bigwaterfilmlogo
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for the kind words, Taryn. We had great films this year, including yours. We hope you can attend some time. Please keep us in mind for new films you make!