So you’ve finished your film and are thinking about entering it in a film festival. But, with so many film festivals to choose from, how do you pick the best film festivals?
We’ve compiled a list of the world’s best film festivals. This is a list of the top 15 film festivals in terms of prestige, potential exposure, and overall coolness. If you can get into these, you’re well on your way.
Some of these people are now considered the elite of the elite in the world of film festivals. This is not suitable for everyone. In the future, I intend to compile a list of the most accessible film festivals that you can attend to kickstart your career.
For the time being, here is a list of some of the best film festivals in the world. Some, such as the Cannes and Venices of the world, will be extremely difficult to enter without an established film festival track record, even if you enter your film in the lesser-known categories.
What Exactly Are Film Festivals?
Film festivals are held all over the world to showcase films from various countries and cultures. There are several well-known film festivals in North America, including Cannes in France, Sundance Film Festival in Utah, Berlinale in Germany, and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Canada.
These events are typically held in the winter or fall months when people who live nearby or have the time to travel long distances can attend. A film festival is a collection of screenings that take place over a few days, usually in theatres.
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These festivals typically screen independent and non-mainstream films that would not otherwise be shown to large audiences. So, without further ado, here is our list of the Best Film Festivals.
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival, known in English as the Cannes Film Festival until 2002 as the International Film Festival (Festival international du film), is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France.
The festival features world premieres of new films of all genres, including documentaries. The invitation-only festival, founded in 1946, is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.
The festival has established itself as an important showcase for European films. In European Cinema: An Introduction, Jill Forbes and Sarah Street argue that Cannes “became…extremely important for critical and commercial interests, as well as for European attempts to sell films on the basis of their artistic quality.”
Forbes and Street also note that, like other festivals such as the Venice Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes provides an opportunity to shape a country’s image of its cinema and, more broadly, to promote the notion that European cinema is “art” cinema.
Furthermore, due to extensive media coverage, the non-public festival attracts many movie stars and is a popular venue for film producers to launch their new films and attempt to sell their works to distributors from all over the world. It usually takes place in May. Established in 1946.
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival, a programme of the Sundance Institute, is an annual American film festival held in Utah. It is the largest independent film festival in the United States, with 46,732 attendees in 2012.
The Sundance Film Festival, held in January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, as well as at the Sundance Resort, is a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers.
The festival features competitive sections for American and international dramatic and documentary films, as well as feature-length and short films, as well as a number of out-of-competition sections such as NEXT, New Frontier, Spotlight, and Park City At Midnight. From January 21 to January 31, 2016, the Sundance Film Festival was held.
Over the years, the festival has evolved from a low-key venue for low-budget, independent creators from outside the Hollywood system to a media extravaganza for Hollywood celebrity actors, paparazzi, and luxury lounges set up by companies unrelated to Sundance.
Festival organizers have attempted to limit these activities in recent years, beginning with their ongoing Focus On Film campaign in 2007. Official Rejection, a 2009 film, chronicled the experiences of small filmmakers trying to get into various festivals in the late 2000s, including Sundance.
The film made several claims that Sundance had become dominated by large studios and corporate sponsors. A comparison was made between the 1990s when non-famous filmmakers with small budgets could get distribution deals from studios like Miramax Films or New Line Cinema (like Kevin Smith’s Clerks).
And the 2000s, when major stars with multimillion-dollar films dominated the festival (like The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher). Kevin Smith doubted that Clerks would be accepted to Sundance if made in the late 2000s. When is it usually held: January. The year was 1978.
Berlin Film Festival
The Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals and media events. It is held every year in Berlin, Germany. The festival, which began in West Berlin in 1951, has been held annually in February since 1978.
Based on actual attendance rates, it is the largest publicly attended film festival in the world, with approximately 300,000 tickets sold and 500,000 admissions. Up to 400 films are shown in various sections, representing a diverse range of the cinematic world.
Around twenty films compete for the Golden and Silver Bear awards. Dieter Kosslick has been the festival’s director since 2001. The European Film Market (EFM), a film trade fair held concurrently with the Berlinale, is a significant industry meeting for the international film circuit.
Distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers, and co-production agents attend the trade show. The Berlinale Talent Campus is a week-long series of lectures and workshops that brings together young filmmakers from all over the world. It collaborates with the festival and serves as a platform for emerging artists.
Around 20,000 professionals from over 130 countries attend the festival, the EFM, and other satellite events. Over 4200 journalists are responsible for media coverage in over 110 countries.
Movie stars and celebrities walk the red carpet at high-profile feature film premieres. The Berlinale has developed a cosmopolitan personality that combines art, glamour, commerce, and global media attention. When is it usually held: February. Established in 1951.
Venice Film Festival
The Venice Film Festival, also known as the Venice International Film Festival, was founded in 1932 and is one of the “Big Three” film festivals, along with the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival.
The film festival is part of the Venice Biennale, which was established in 1895 by the Venetian City Council. The Biennale now includes a number of distinct events, including the International Art Exhibition.
The International Festival of Contemporary Music, the International Theatre Festival, the International Architecture Exhibition, the International Festival of Contemporary Dance, the International Kids’ Carnival, and the annual Venice Film Festival which is arguably the most well-known of all.
Since then, the film festival has been held on the island of Lido in Venice, Italy, in late August or early September. The historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and other nearby venues host screenings.
Since its inception, the Venice Film Festival has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. It usually takes place in late August or early September. The year was 1932.
Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the world’s largest public film festivals, attracting over 480,000 people each year. TIFF has grown into a year-round destination for film culture over the last 40 years
Operating out of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a dynamic center for film culture that offers film lovers a world-class cinema experience, including new releases, live one-of-a-kind film events, and an interactive gallery.
TIFF Bell Lightbox is open all year and offers screenings, lectures, discussions, festivals, workshops, industry support, and the opportunity to meet filmmakers from Canada and around the world.
TIFF Bell Lightbox is located in downtown Toronto on the northwest corner of King Street and John Street. In 2015, 397 films from 71 countries were screened at 28 downtown Toronto venues, attracting an estimated 480,000 attendees, including over 5,000 industry professionals.
TIFF begins on a Thursday evening following Labour Day (the first Monday in September in Canada) and runs for eleven days. TIFF, which was founded in 1976, is now one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.
Variety magazine stated in 1998 that TIFF “is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pictures, stars, and market activity.”TIME stated in 2007 that TIFF had “grown from its position as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period.
“This is due in part to TIFF’s ability and reputation for generating “Oscar buzz. “The Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is based on popular vote by Festival filmgoers, has emerged as a beacon of awards-season success.
This award has previously gone to Room, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, and Dallas Buyers Club. When is it usually held: September. The year was 1976.
BFI London Film Festival
The British Film Institute London Film Festival (simply BFI London Film Festival) is an annual film festival held in the United Kingdom that takes place in the second half of October with the assistance of the British Film Institute.
It shows over 300 films, documentaries, and shorts from over 50 countries. In 1953, a group of critics, including Dilys Powell of The Sunday Times, proposed a film festival in London. They reasoned that Cannes and Venice, as well as Edinburgh, had their own festivals.
The proposition, however, was squared in the press: giving audiences the opportunity to see films that are not normally released in British cinemas. It was intended to be a “festival of festivals,” screening a selection of strong titles from other European film festivals such as Cannes and Venice.
James Quinn created the first London Film Festival, which took place from October 16 to 26 at the NFT (National Film Theatre, now renamed BFI Southbank). It was launched following the inauguration of the new NFT at its current location beneath Waterloo Bridge.
It only screened 15-20 films by renowned directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Yasujiro Ozu, Luchino Visconti, and Andrzej Wajda. While the show still has a festival feel to it, it also features new discoveries from “important and exciting talents” in world cinema.
While it remains primarily a public festival, it also attracts a large number of film professionals and journalists from around the world. Importantly, it allows people to see films that would not otherwise be available in the UK, as well as films that will be released in the near future.
The Opening and Closing Galas have now become major red carpet events in the London calendar and are world premiere screenings, which take place in large venues in central London.
Attended by the cast and crew of the films, and introduced by the Festival director and the film’s directors or producers, and often the actors themselves. When is it usually held: October. The year was 1957.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is a fortnight-long festival of film screenings and related events held each June. It was the world’s oldest continuously running film festival, having begun in 1947.
The EIFF features the UK and international films of all genres and lengths (all titles are World, International, European, or UK Premieres). It also features themed retrospectives and other specialised programming.
The first festival, a documentary program presented by the Edinburgh Film Guild alongside the 1947 Edinburgh International Festival, is held each June. Cannes and Venice were the most important annual film festivals at the time.
In the years since, the programme has expanded to include fiction and experimental films in addition to documentaries. The film festival shifted from its traditional August date to June 2008.
The film festival features feature-length and documentary films, as well as short films, animations, and music videos. The Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film is given by a jury, while the Audience Award is decided by a panel of judges.
And the Best International Feature Award is given by a panel of judges. Short films are also recognized with a number of awards. It usually takes place in June. Established in 1947.
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SXSW Film Festival
The SXSW Film Conference takes place over five days and welcomes filmmakers of all levels. The program includes keynote speakers, panels, workshops, mentor sessions, and other activities with expert filmmakers and industry leaders.
Lena Dunham, Jon Favreau, Mark Duplass, Ava DuVernay, Ryan Gosling, Nicolas Cage, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Tilda Swinton, Amy Schumer, Sally Field, Joss Whedon, Christine Vachon, RZA, Matthew McConaughey, Danny Boyle, Seth MacFarlane, Catherine Hardwicke.
Richard Linklater, David Gordon Green, Harmony Korine, Henry Rollins, Although the festival frequently highlights independently produced films and emerging directing talent with unique visions, it has long served studios as a starting point for their comedies.
Using enthusiastic fans as a barometer of how they might perform in wide release. The SXSW Film Festival, held in conjunction with the SXSW Film Conference, lasts nine days and celebrates raw innovation and emerging talent both behind and in front of the camera.
Special Events, Headliners, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, Visions, Midnighters, 24 Beats Per Second, SXGlobal, Episodic, Festival Favorites, and Short Film Programs are among the festival programming categories.
The SXSW Film Awards held on the final day of the Film Conference, recognize films chosen by the Feature and Short Film Juries. It usually takes place in March. Established in 1987.