These celebrations in cinema get two thumbs up for stunning seaside venues and exciting on-screen entertainment.
June 15-19, 2016
What started as a way to bolster tourism during the shoulder season has, 15 years on, morphed into a film festival that is considered a must-attend by most in the industry. The films shown here celebrate diversity and avant-garde programming, with American and international features, documentaries, and short films. Moviegoers can rent bikes to travel between venues, which include age-old favorites like the classic Wellfleet Drive-In, with its giant screen and packed parking lot. It's not uncommon to see director and summer resident John Waters out and about, and movie stars Jane Lynch and Kathleen Turner are fans of the festival, too. Screenings start at $10; ptownfilmfest.org.
Stay: The most luxurious hotel in town is Brass Key Guesthouse, with rooms surrounding a courtyard with an infinity pool, English gardens, and the fun, festively nautical Shipwreck Lounge. Rates start at $349; 800-842-9858 or brasskey.com.
July 26-31, 2016
Traverse City, Michigan
Oscar-winning filmmaker and local resident Michael Moore started this festival, which focuses on American independent film, foreign films, documentaries, and what Moore describes as "films that have been overlooked." A bus shuttles attendees to venues, including the historic State Theatre, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Screenings start at $10; traversecityfilmfest.org.
Stay: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay is close to the festivities, with great golf and a luxurious 7,000-square-foot spa. Rates start at $249; 800-236-1577 or grandtraverseresort.com.
June 22-27, 2016
If you were looking for an excuse to venture to the charming island of Nantucket this summer, look no further. The Nantucket Film Festival, now in its 21st year, was started by a local brother and sister team in 1996. Now it attracts visitors and bold-faced names galore to view about 100 of the year’s best films. Tech fans will be drawn to the Samsung Virtual Reality Legacy Lounge, which brings dreamscapes and documentaries alike to life right in front of your eyes. Tickets from $15; nantucketfilmfestival.org.
Stay: The sophisticated welcome of the White Elephant Hotel and Village Residence offers myriad pleasures (and all-day coffee and cookies) just a five-minute walk from Main Street. Rates start at $195; 508-228-2500 or whiteelephanthotel.com.
October 6-10, 2016
Free Friday Screenings Starting July 15, 2016
Long Island, New York
This 23-year-old festival has tremendous star power—Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, David Duchovny, and Spike Jonze have debuted films here in recent years. Films are screened in East Hampton, Montauk, and Sag Harbor, and give visitors a chance to catch a not-yet-released film that will be short-listed for every award in the coming months. This year the festival is sponsoring free Friday screenings all summer and beyond. Official screenings start at $15; hamptonsfilmfest.org.
Stay: The Inn at Windmill Lane in Amagansett has a main house with seven luxury suites, three one-bedroom cottages, and a new single-family home with four bedrooms. All rooms have fire-places and marble baths. Rates start at $375; 631-267-8500 or innatwindmilllane.com.
April 2-10, 2016
Now in its 36th year, this festival features the expected categories of films—independents, narrative features, and documentaries—all with a distinctly Asian focus. There are Made in Hawaii screenings, as well as Spotlight on Asia, EuroCinema, the Pacific Showcase, and short films produced by students. Movies are shown in two venues: the Dole Cannery in Iwilei and KoKo Marina in Hawaii Kai (about 30 minutes apart). Screenings start at $8; hiff.org.
Stay: Set on five waterfront acres with views of Diamond Head, the century-old Halekulani property has light-filled rooms and a legendary 82-foot-long outdoor pool featuring an orchid mosaic made with 1.2 million glass tiles. Rates start at $520; 800-367-2343 or halekulani.com.
March 15-21, 2016
Todos Santos, Baja Sur, Mexico
2016 marked the 13th anniversary of this weeklong fest in the blissfully chill Mexican town about 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas. The focus here is on films from Latin America and Spain, including documentaries and shorts, with a special emphasis on Mexican and local cinema. Featured screenings—in Todos Santos, Pescadero, and La Paz (an hour's drive)—include work by students at the local Film School Leonardo Perel. No habla Español? No worries: All featured movies have English subtitles. Screenings start at $5; todossantoscine.org.
Stay: Rancho Pescadero is a boutique gem with 27 oceanfront suites facing the sandy beach. Rates start at $200; 910/300-8891 or ranchopescadero.com.