Who We Are
Founded in 2001, the High Falls Film Festival is one of the few film festivals worldwide that celebrates the work of women filmmakers, and is one of the longest running women’s film festivals on the East Coast.
The High Falls Film Festival celebrates the artistry and innovation of women in film — behind the camera, in leading roles on the screen, and at the heart of storylines. The focus on women in film is inspired by Rochester, N.Y.’s legacy as the birthplace of film (George Eastman and Kodak) and the women’s rights movement (Susan B. Anthony).
The offerings include an international slate of independent films enhanced by panels, workshops, and talks with filmmakers.
A non-profit organization, the High Falls Film Festival has screened more than 500 films since its inception, spotlighting the cinematic works of women and bringing the finest independent motion pictures and film artists to Rochester and Western New York audiences. The Festival includes features, documentaries, shorts, children’s and young adult programs. The Festival has also offered programs in film education as well as student film making competitions.
The festival aligned with the Rochester International Film Festival in 2007 and with George Eastman House in 2009 under the name George Eastman House 360 | 365 Film Festival. After taking a hiatus in 2012, High Falls Film festival returned in 2013 to its original mission, focus, and name. The festival’s venues in 2015 include The Little Theatre and the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House.
Films from past Festivals have gone on to win Academy Awards®, Golden Globe Awards® and recognition at other festivals, from Sundance to Berlin. High Falls Film Festival includes panel discussions and master classes presented by prominent industry professionals who give our filmmaking audience unique access to advance their own talents in all aspects of filmmaking.
High Falls Films Festival presents more than 50 features, documentaries, and shorts, including a children’s program and student-filmmaker program, in addition to panel discussions, opening and closing night parties, and informal “Coffee With” events featuring visiting filmmakers and artists.
The festival is a lively mix of emerging and established talent, with past guests including actresses Kerry Washington, Lynn Redgrave, Rita Moreno, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christine Lahti, Bill Pullman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Mira Nair, Jane Alexander, Candice Bergen, Joan Allen, Gordy Hoffman, Famke Janssen, Faith Hubley, Stuart Craig, Diane Ladd, John Curran, CCH Pounder, Leslie Stahl, Celeste Holm, Lainie Kazan, Sally Kellerman, voice-over actress Nancy “Bart Simpson” Cartwright, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, Richard Donner, Agnieszka Holland, and SHREK director Vicky Jenson, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and director Vicky Jenson.
The Susan B. Anthony “Failure is Impossible” Award
Honors a woman in the film industry who has persevered in her career and triumphed over difficulties.
- 2011: Director/filmmaker Julie Taymor
- 2010: Film Editor Thelma Schoonmaker
- 2009: Actors Lynn Redgrave and CCH Pounder
- 2008: Actor Rita Moreno
- 2006: Director Agnieszka Holland
- 2005: Actor Angela Bassett
- 2004: Actors Sally Kellerman
- 2003: Actor Candice Bergen
- 2002: Actor Lainie Kazan
- 2001: Actor Pam Grier
The Golden Lens Award for Cinematography
Honors a person who has made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of cinematography.
- 2011: Buddy Squires
The Rochester Film Legacy Award
Honors a filmmaker or film supporter based in the Rochester area whose passion and dedication embodies Rochester’s proud film legacy.
- 2011: Brock Yates
The Faith Hubley “Web of Life” Award
Named after its first recipient, honors a woman who understands the power of art in connecting with an audience and in making the world a better place.
- 2005: Jane Alexander, actor
- 2004: Mira Nair, filmmaker
- 2003: Jeannie Epper, stuntwoman
- 2002: Nancy Cartwright, voice actor
- 2001: Faith Hubley, animator
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton “Thorn in the Side” Award
Honors women who exemplify the collaborative nature of film and video. The award is named in honor of Stanton, who said: “If there is one part of my life which gives me more intense satisfaction than another, it is my friendship with Susan B. Anthony… we have indeed been thorns in the side of each other…”
- 2009: Debra Zimmerman
- 2008: Estela Bravo, director
- 2006: Stella Pence, (retired) Co-Director, Telluride Film Festival
Audience Choice Awardees
Festival audiences chose Best Feature, Best Documentary and Best Short. Past Audience Award winners include:
- Best Feature: The World’s Fastest Indian
- Best Documentary: Christa Mcauliffe: Reach For The Stars
- Best Short: A Life To Live