As a filmmaker and native of Grand Rapids, I’ve long felt that we should have a world class film festival to showcase our amazing community and to be a showcase for movies.

Having been with the festival for a number of years, I’ve seen it grow and change and struggle and succeed. More and more films are being made every year and they need a place to be seen - not online alone, but in a theater with an engaged audience of film lovers and filmmakers. There’s something very special about seeing a movie, your own or somebody else's, on the big screen with friends and strangers alike in the crowd. We can be the vehicle for these special events with movies big and small. Building a festival is hard, building an audience for one is even harder but we’ve made it this far and I feel like with the right people and organizations supporting it, the Grand Rapids Film Festival has a bright future. I hope you’ll join me in helping take our festival to the next level!

John Otterbacher

Interim President, Grand Rapids Film Festival

Update: REGISTRATION FOR The 36 Hour Challenge is NOW OPEN!

I'm so excited to share that the 36 Hour Film Challenge, through the Grand Rapids Film Festival, is launching on Dec. 20th!

As the new Director for this event, I'm looking forward to bringing my own experience as a filmmaker for almost 20 years, and also as a filmmaker who has recently made 4 competition films in the last year, that are all multi award-winning.

This is a challenge where teams will have to use common elements and write, shoot, edit, and deliver a film in only 36 hours.

Up for the challenge? Sign up and create something wonderful to share.

We will be holding BOTH the launch event (Feb. 8th) & the showing/after party (Feb. 22nd) at the famed Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids.


Get your HS or College to Sponsor a team for $300 and you'll get your school promoted and 10 passes for the Feb. 22nd event.

Michael McCallum

Director, 36 Hour Challenge

Click on the FilmFreeway button to SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY!


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