"There are more film festivals in Buffalo now than any time in the area’s history, and that’s a great thing for lovers of cinema. The most purely fun of these movie extravaganzas? It’s undoubtedly the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, which offers action, animation, comedy, drama, fantasy, horror, thriller and science fiction features and shorts from around the world." - The Buffalo News

"Whatever your tastes, this festival has something for you." - The Public

"Buffalo Dreams is a well oiled machine of blatant awesomeness, due completely to the fierce dedication of its showrunners, Gregory Lamberson and Chris Scioli. These two work tirelessly to program one intense and well rounded festival, and perhaps what’s more impressive is the fact that they still remain completely approachable throughout. They do all the greeting, introductions, and personally hand out passes and talk to fans and festival goers." - Bro Knows Movies

The 2016 edition of Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival was a banner year for the event, with an expansion to 10 days and over 30 out of town filmmakers attending. We received a record 350 submissions - approximately 310 films and 40 Original Screenplays - and screened a record 107 films, 34% of the films submitted to us. Festival organizers Gregory Lamberson (Slime City, Killer Rack) and Chris Scioli intend to build on that momentum to make the 2017 edition, which will again run 10 days, the best international film festival in Western New York.

The dates of the festival are Friday, November 3rd, 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!

Awards & Prizes

This year, we will present plaques for the following categories:

Best of the Fest

Best Feature
Best International Feature
Best Western New York Feature
Best Un-Produced Original Screenplay

Best Feature Director
Best Western New York Director
Best Feature Screenwriter
Best Western New York Screenwriter

Best Short Feature
Best International Short Feature
Best Western New York Short Feature

Best Short Film
Best International Short Film
Best Western New York Short Film

Best Animated film (any length, any division)

Best Student Film
Best Western New York Student Film
Best Young Student Film (WNY)

Nominees in all categories will receive a digital file of a Certificate of Nomination.

In addition, every Young Student Filmmaker (WNY, age 17 and under) will receive a Certificate of Participation.

We reserve the right to combine award categories based on the number of films we select in a given category.

Rules & Terms

1. Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival accepts Feature, Short Feature and Short Films in the following genres: Action, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction and Thriller, as well as Music Videos for any style of music. "Action" includes martial arts, war, police, crime drama, western, etc., and "Thriller" includes mystery, suspense and crime drama.

2. We have North American, International and Regional ("Western New York") divisions.

3. We now accept only online screeners.

4. Non-English language films must be dubbed or subtitled.

5. Exhibition copies should be Region A Blu-rays or NTSC R1 DVDs. We also accept DCPs.

6. The packages for all foreign exhibition copies should have "No Commercial Value - For Cultural Purposes Only" clearly marked on them.

7. Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival is not liable for any damage or loss suffered during shipping, previewing, or screening.

8. Your digital signature on the entry form authorizes us to use excerpts from your film for marketing purposes on television, in advertising, promotional items and/or news and other programs.

9. If your film is selected for screening at the festival, you will be asked to immediately forward: stills, a poster image, and an online trailer. We do not require one sheets, posters or press kits, but postcards for features are really helpful in our marketing.

10. If your film is selected for screening, you grant Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival the right to show the film one more time outside the festival, in a "Best of Buffalo Dreams" program at a Buffalo area venue.

11. Any requests for submission fee waivers will be ignored. Sorry, but we mean it. We rely on submission fees to cover the expenses of the festival.

12. Entrants are responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses, royalties, release forms, clearances, permits necessary to present their work. Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival is not responsible for any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, or royalty infringement related to the work.

13. Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival reserves the right to make any necessary changes in festival scheduling. All submitting filmmakers will be notified of any regulation or date changes that affect them. Any changes to regulations after a submitter has already submitted will not apply to them.

14. Selected entries will be notified on or about October 10th, 2017.

15. Submitters to Buffalo Dreams will receive two free passes for the entire festival.

16. The filmmakers responsible for each selected film will receive four free passes for the entire festival. If you're traveling from out of town and have more than two/four people, we will do our best to accommodate you.

Legal: I, an authorized representative of the project being submitted (the "Film"), acknowledge and agree as follows in connection with the Film's submittal for consideration for the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival (the “Festival”): I am duly authorized, on my own behalf and on behalf of all other persons or entities who have any ownership rights or interests to exhibit this Film at the Festival, (b) exhibition of the Film at the Festival will not violate any law or any right or consent of any person or entity; and (c) the Film is not subject to any litigation, arbitration, or other adversarial claim or proceeding, nor is the Film the subject of any threat of litigation, arbitration, or other adverse claim or proceeding. I further represent and warrant, on behalf of myself and the Film’s Owners, that the exhibition of the Film at the Festival will not violate or infringe any copyright, patent, privacy right, publicity right, trademark, service mark or any other personal or property right of any person or entity, and that the Film does not constitute or include a defamation of any person or entity. I have paid and will pay in full all license fees, clearance fees, and other obligations, of any kind, arising from or associated with the exhibition of the Film at or in connection with the Festival. I warrant and agree, on behalf of myself and each of the Film’s Owners, that the Film is being submitted to the Festival voluntarily and without promise or inducement, and that the submission of the Film neither imposes nor creates any obligation or responsibility on the part of the Festival to accept the Film for the Festival, to exhibit the Film at the Festival, or to return the Film to me or others. I further agree, on my own behalf and on behalf of the Film’s Owners, that I and the Film’s Owners, in submitting the Film for consideration, are waiving and relinquishing any right to assert any claim or commence any proceeding against the Festival, based upon, arising out of or otherwise relating to the submission, exhibition, or failure to exhibit the Film. In the event that the Film is accepted by the Festival, I hereby grant, on behalf of myself and each of the Film’s Owners, each of the following rights to the Festival without reservations, conditions or qualifications: (a) the right to use footage, stills and/or titles, and information from or relating to the Film for promotional purposes; and (b) the right to issue and authorize publicity concerning the filmmakers and the Film and to use all associated names, likenesses and biographical information. I also agree to provide contact information for the director and producer(s) of the Film and to grant the Festival the right to provide this information to film industry organizations sponsoring Festival events at its discretion. I represent that I am 18 years of age or older, or that, if I am younger than the legal age to enter into contracts in my state, I have provided the Festival with a written consent from my parent or legal guardian.

11 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    Megan Riakos

    I screened my feature CRUSHED here in 2015 to a festival audience that loves their genre films and a festival team that worked tirelessly to make it all happen. They made me feel welcome, promoted my film to genre publications as well as local media outlets and created an awesome vibe where audiences and filmmakers can mingle. I hope I can bring my next film back to Buffalo in the near future.

    June 2017
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    Nic Costa

    I loved Greg Lamberson and his crew. These guys are just true blue fans of genre film that make you feel like one of the family. A great experience.

    May 2017
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    Matt Stuertz

    Excellent festival. Had a blast there with my film "Tonight She Comes". Met some great people, and ended up with some very pristine looking award plaques that are now hanging on my wall. Highly recommended!

    May 2017
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    Code 3 Films

    This is one of my absolute favorite festivals. Chris and Greg are amazing guys and treat the film makers so well through the entire process. I first attended the festival in 2015 after learning about it from another film maker. That year I went focused on finding a few films for our distribution company (Terror Films) and I found several great films. I was so impressed with the selections that I submitted a film I directed to the 2016 competition and we were selected which was a huge honor to be at such a top notch festival. Our film Massacre On aisle 12 won best Feature Comedy and we secured distribution thru Indican Pictures and are having a successful release so far. I can't say enough great things about the festival and the team behind it, and Buffalo is an incredible city with incredible people. I encourage film makers to submit or attend the festival and film lovers to check it out, I don't think you will be disappointed.

    April 2017
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    Kellen Pembleton

    There's really nothing to complain about with this festival. They screen excellent films, they're some of the nicest people running a festival and are super supportive in reviewing the work of the filmmakers and help them to grow. I've had the privilege to show some of my earlier work with them over the years and they've always been kind even though some of my work was laughable, even to me. Every year the fest seems to get bigger and better. Last year they had Roy Frumkes (Street Trash) and Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie) in attendance as well as films from overseas. The diverse lineup of films that they include in their yearly reservoir is what makes the fest so special. Do yourself a favor and submit your work to this organization and enjoy over a week long lineup of incredible films.

    April 2017