Main menu

Skip to primary content

June 26 - July 2

Secondary menu

Skip to primary content

JUNE 26 – JULY 2!

Check out our 2023 Lineup Announcement Here! 

The Free State Festival celebrates the free spirit of the state Kansas with films that challenge, inspire, and entertain. This signature annual event brings independent films, live music, comedy and art to venues across the vibrant college town of Lawrence. The festival is made possible through programming support from community partners and its sponsoring organization, the Lawrence Arts Center.

The 2023 Free State Festival is made possible through programming support from community partners and grant funding from the City of Lawrence’s Transient Guest Tax program. Media partners include Kansas Public Radio and Lawrence Business Magazine.

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, the Lied Center of Kansas, Audio-Reader Network, the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Film and Media Studies, the Watkins Museum of History, the Cider Gallery, Downtown Lawrence Inc., the Lawrence Public Library, the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, Theatre Lawrence and Lawrence Talks.

All access passes go on sale April 1 for Free State Film Society Subscribers and April 8 to the general public. Individual tickets go on sale in May.


The festival began as a showcase of short films in 2011 and officially became the Free State Film Festival in 2012 with a weekend of feature films, visiting artists and shorts. We received a large grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2014-2015 to find our place in the landscape of other art forms such as music. comedy and visual art, and have since settled into a sweet spot of a sustainable weeklong event with film at its core. Thanks to the City of Lawrence’s Transient Guest Tax program, sponsorships, and the contributions of our community partners, we showcase approximately 3o films in venues throughout the city accompanied by live comedy and music performances to thousands of attendees – visitors and townies alike!

Check out this article on our humble beginnings, including the vision for what was to come!

After a post pandemic season of outdoor screenings in 2021, the festival returned to indoor spaces from April 12-16 with programming highlights such as False Negative, John Waters’ all new comic monologue, an accessible big-screen premiere of The Aorta of an Archivist accompanied by live audio description and American Sign Language interpretation, An Evening of Oscars celebrating the careers of Black silent film pioneer Oscar Micheaux and Kevin Willmott, a spotlight on Indigenous Cinema, a short film tea and pastry pairing, and standup comedy by Cameron Esposito.

View our 2022 photo gallery!

View our 2021 photo gallery!

Advisory Board
Laura Kirk / Misti Boland / Chris Blunk / Jon Niccum / Tom Carmody  / Christie Dobson / David Hollond / Jeremy Osbern / Rebekka Schlichting

For further information on the festival including partnerships, sponsorships, or volunteer opportunities,
please contact Free State Festival Director Marlo Angell: