One of the most powerful methods to tell a tale is through the medium of film. For new stories to be discovered, film festivals are ideal.
New and diverse filmmakers from around the world are brought together at the world’s best film festivals. Audiences are reminded that equality and representation are essential.
In addition, they don’t just focus on big-budget films. A film festival is the ideal setting for a documentary or indie film to shine. It brings together the best and the brightest from the world’s largest and smallest production studios.
Every year, a number of the world’s most prestigious film festivals take place. Here, though, are the ten most important ones to keep an eye on.
1. Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival, formerly known as the International Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France.
Films of all kinds, including documentaries, are shown at the festival. Taking place at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès every year since 1946, the invitation-only festival is open only to those who have been invited.
The festival has grown to be an important platform for films from Europe. “Cannes became…extremely important for critical and commercial interests and for European attempts to sell films on the basis of their artistic quality,” said Jill Forbes and Sarah Street in European Cinema.
According to Forbes and Street, other festivals like the Venice Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival help establish a country’s image of its cinema and promote the idea that European cinema is a form of “art” filmmaking.
It is also a popular location for film producers to premiere new films and try to sell their works to distributors from around the world at the non-public festival because of the tremendous media exposure it gets.
Time of Event: May
2. Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Institute’s annual Sundance Film Festival is an American film festival that takes place in Utah. It is the largest independent film festival in the United States, with 46,732 participants in 2012.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City, Utah, and the Sundance Resort in Utah, as well as in other cities across the country.
The Park City International Film Festival has competitions for feature-length and short films, as well as non-competitive sections, such as NEXT, New Frontier, Spotlight, and Park City at Midnight. Sundance Film Festival 2016 was held in Park City, Utah, from January 21 to January 31.
From a low-profile venue for small-budget, independent filmmakers outside the Hollywood system to a media spectacle for Hollywood celebrities, paparazzi, and luxury lounges put up by firms not affiliated with Sundance, the festival has evolved over the years.
With their ongoing Focus On Film campaign, which began in 2007, festival organizers have endeavored to limit these events in recent years.
Official Rejection, a documentary made in 2009 about tiny filmmakers trying to get into Sundance and other festivals in the late 2000s, chronicled their experiences. The film made a number of claims about how Sundance had been taken over by big studios and corporate sponsors.
Unlike in the 1990s, when independent filmmakers with modest budgets like Kevin Smith’s Clerks were able to secure distribution deals with major studios like Miramax Films and New Line Cinema, in the 2000s, star-driven productions with multimillion-dollar budgets like The Butterfly Effect dominated the festival’s attendance. Sundance wouldn’t accept Clerks in the late 2000s, according to Kevin Smith.
Time of Event: January
3. Berlin Film Festival
Known colloquially as “the Berlinale,” the Berlin International Cinematic Festival is a well-respected film event. In Berlin, Germany, it is held every year.
Originally held in West Berlin in 1951, the event now takes place yearly on the second weekend of February. With more than 500,000 admissions, it is the world’s most popular public film festival, with more than 200,000 tickets sold.
In numerous sections, up to 400 films are played, which cover the whole breadth of the cinematic spectrum. The competition for the Golden and Silver Bears is fierce, with twenty films vying for the honors each year. The Festival director since 2001 is Dieter Kosslick.
European Film Market (EFM), a trade show held alongside the Berlinale, is an important gathering place for the international film industry. Film buyers, distributors, producers, financiers, and co-production agents are all in attendance at the trade show.
International young filmmakers assemble for a week of lectures and seminars at the Berlinale Talent Campus. In addition to being an official partner of the festival, it also serves as a platform for up-and-coming musicians.
Around 20,000 professionals from more than 130 countries attend the festival, the EFM, and other satellite events. Journalists from over 110 nations are responsible for the media coverage.
Red carpet appearances by well-known actors and actresses are common during important film premieres. Attracting art lovers from around the world, as well as the attention of national and international media, the Berlinale has become truly global.
Time of Event: February
4. Venice Film Festival
It is one of the “Big Three” film festivals, together with the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, in that it is the world’s oldest film festival, having been established in 1932.
The Venice Biennale, inaugurated by the city council of Venice in 1895, includes the Venice Film Festival.
International Art Exhibition; International Festival of Contemporary Music; International Theatre Festival; International Architecture Exhibition; the International Festival of Contemporary Dance; International Kids’ Carnival; and the Venice Film Festival, which is arguably the best-known of all events.
Venice, Italy’s Lido island has hosted a film festival since the late August or early September of this year. On the Lungomare Marconi, at the historic Palazzo del Cinema, as well as other locations around, film screenings are held.
The Venice Film Festival has become one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals since its establishment.
Time of Event: Late August / Early September
5. Toronto International Film Festival
Over 480,000 people visit the Toronto International Film Festival each year, making it the world’s largest free film festival.
TIFF has evolved into a year-round destination for film culture, operating out of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a dynamic center for film culture that provides film fans with a world-class cinema experience, featuring new releases, live one-of-a-kind film events, and an interactive gallery.
Filmmakers from Canada and throughout the world can attend TIFF Bell Lightbox’s year-round programming of screenings, talks, discussions, festivals, seminars, industry support, and networking opportunities. The TIFF Bell Lightbox is located at the intersection of King Street and John Street in downtown Toronto, on the northwest corner.
An estimated 480,000 people, including over 5,000 industry professionals, attended screenings of 397 films from 71 nations in 2015 on 28 screens in downtown Toronto locations.
TIFF, which began in 1976, has grown into one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. “TIFF [is] second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pictures, actors, and market activity,” said Variety magazine in 1998.
Time of Event: September
6. Tribeca Film Festival
Founded in 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival was in response to the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, and the resulting decline in the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. However, there are reports that the festival was already in development prior to the events of September 11, 2001.
For the festival’s stated purpose, it is to “allow the international cinema community and the general public to experience the power of film by revolutionizing the film festival experience.” The Tribeca Film Festival was created to celebrate New York City as a significant filmmaking center and to help lower Manhattan’s long-term rehabilitation.
Other events include panels with entertainment industry luminaries and a music lounge sponsored by ASCAP to showcase musicians.
Emerging and well-known artists participate in the Festival’s Artists Awards program, which honors filmmakers by donating original pieces of art to the competition winners for their films. Chuck Close, Alex Katz, and Julian Schnabel are just some of the artists who have received Artists Awards from the program.
Around three million people attend the festival annually, including many famous personalities from the arts, film, and music. This results in an annual economic impact of around $600 million.
Time of Event: April
The SXSW Film Festival takes place over five days and accepts filmmakers of all experience levels. Keynote speakers, panel discussions, seminars, and mentor sessions are all part of the program.
In spite of the fact that the festival is known for showcasing indie films and new directors, the festival has traditionally functioned as a launch pad for a studio comedy, with enthusiastic audiences serving as a gauge for how well the pictures would do when released to a wider audience.
The SXSW Film Festival and Conference operate side by side for nine days, showcasing cutting-edge filmmaking and new talent on both sides of the camera.
Events, Headliners, Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Narrative Competition vs. Documentary Competition, and Short Film Programs are among the many types of programming offered by the festival. The final day of the SXSW Film Conference’s Film Awards honors films selected by the Feature and Short Film Juries, respectively.
Time of Event: March
8. BFI London Film Festival
Annually, the BFI London Film Festival is held in the United Kingdom in the second part of October, with support from the British Film Institute, and features a wide variety of films. Each week, it shows more than 300 films from all over the world.
In 1953, a group of critics led by Dilys Powell of The Sunday Times proposed that London host a film festival. They came to the conclusion that, like Edinburgh, Cannes and Venice had their own uniqueness to offer.
Media outlets saw this as an opportunity to introduce audiences to films that might not otherwise be shown in British theatres. To begin with, it was meant to be a ‘festival of festivals,’ screening films from other European film festivals, such as Cannes and Venice, in addition to its own selection.
The show still has a festival vibe to it, but it now also features fresh discoveries from “important and intriguing artists” in world cinema as part of its offerings. As a public festival, it attracts a huge number of film professionals and journalists from around the world.
Those that might not otherwise be shown in the United Kingdom, as well as films that will be released in the near future, can be viewed at the festival.
Time of Event: October
9. Hong Kong International Film Festival
The Hong Kong International Film Festival is Asia’s oldest international film festival and a pioneer in presenting Hong Kong, Chinese language, and Asian cinema and filmmakers to the globe.
At over 11 sites across Hong Kong, the Festival screens more than 250 films from 55 countries, making it Hong Kong’s most important cultural event of the year.
Anthologies of short films by well-known award-winning Asian directors such as Ann HUI, KUROSAWA Kiyoshi, JIA Zhangke, and Brillante MENDOZA have been created and premiered by the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) for the last seven years.
With a focus on promoting emerging talent, the festival presents a wide range of Chinese films and spotlights Asian filmmakers. Festival-goers attend screenings of world-class films, participate in panel discussions with famous filmmakers, and attend parties commemorating the Festival community, among other activities.
The Festival attracts more than 300 international journalists and has become a crucial forum for launching films into Asia’s cinematic landscape.
Time of Event: March/April
The Rotterdam film festival has a standout feature in a stunning city backdrop. It is a Dutch film festival that takes place each year in the city of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is a hotbed for experimental and indie cinema. Acclaim for new filmmakers is gained this way.
Time of Event: January
In the realm of cinema, each of the film festivals on this list offers something special. As the world’s most prestigious film festivals, Sundance and Cannes have a long history of discovering and showcasing the best new filmmakers from around the world.
As a result, these events bring the world a little closer together. And remind the audience that all stories are worthy of being told.