Film festivals are the absolute trendsetters of the whole film industry. They are all about the highlights of a current year. They are about premiers, news, trends, red carpet dresses and apparitions, but also about real value and creation. This post is meant to walk you through 10 international film festivals from around the world.
1. Toronto Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs annually around early to mid September, and is one of the best large film festivals in regards to launching independent productions. The festival holds a large International film selection, including the following selections: Gala Presentations (for large scale international premieres), Masters (for works by the ‘doyens’ of international cinema), Special Presentations (premieres of new films established directors), Vanguard (showcasing innovative filmmakers that challenge social and cultural assumptions), Contemporary World Cinema (overview of recent productions by well-known directors and award winners at other festivals), Discovery (premieres of first and second films by next up and coming directors), Visions (unconventional approaches to storytelling or new technologies in distinctive ways), Real To Reel (documentaries), Midnight Madness, Wavelengths (avant-garde films), and TIFF Kids (featuring the best in international cinema for children and youth).
2. The Berlin Film Festival
The Berlinale festival runs annually from early to mid February and has been ranked in the top tier of European film festivals. Berlinale has a wide range of international sections, includiInternational Film Festival Rotterdamng: In Competition (big international movies), Independent, Panorama (for art-house movies), Generation (for a younger audience), an in-depth look at films from “distant” countries and experimental forms in the Forum, as well as diverse international shorts in Berlinale Shorts. Berlinale also runs the Berlinale Talent Campus, a six-day creative summit for up-and-coming filmmakers.
3. Sundance Film Festival
Still the United States’ most important film festival, Sundance is the cradle of the American indie movement. While the combination of economic downturn and massive restructuring within the industry have meant that deals made at the fest are not where they were five or more years ago, it is still an important place to do business and even its detractors would not dare miss it. The festival continues to showcase the most anticipated titles in new American cinema. At Sundance you will find films competing for American and international Dramatic and Documentary sections, in either short or feature lengths. You will also see a bunch of non-competitive films under showcase sections including Premieres, New Frontier, Spotlight, and Park City at Midnight.
4. Venice Film Festival
The August/September event is a magnet for splashy premieres, stars, parties, and paparazzi. It has long been at the forefront for defining in the popular imagination how a film festival should look and feel. The sections of the festival include Venezia 69 (a competition for international films, with a limit of 20 films), Orrizonti (another competitive section, dedicated to debut and indie films, both shorts and features), Out of Competition (Showing a maximum of 11 feature films), Venice Days, and International Critic’s Week (showing a selection of seven films max chosen by the Critics Syndicate).
5. International Film Festival Rotterdam
Rotterdam is a modern representation of Dutch culture, and its annual film festival is constantly paving the way for all genres of innovative and thought-provoking cinema. Rotterdam attendees are passionate moviegoers, so program directors make a point of stripping down the superfluous aspects of film, like commercials and trailers, for an untarnished viewing experience.
6. Hong Kong International Film Festival
The perfect blend of East Asian culture and a thriving global market, Hong Kong is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. It’s no wonder that the Hong Kong International Film Festival has become one of the largest in the world, and has bridged the gap between Asian cinema and the global film industry.
7. Tokyo International Film Festival
The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is the only Japanese film festival accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). The awards handed out during the festival have changed throughout its existence, but the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix, handed to the best film, has stayed as the top award. Other awards that have been given regularly include the Special Jury Award and awards for best actor, best actress and best director.
8. Rooftop Films – New York
New York City is known for filmmaking, and great festivals like The New York Film Festival and Tribeca are constantly at the forefront when it comes to showcasing the talent of filmmakers from around the world. But veer slightly off the beaten path to the skyline of the Big Apple, and check out our favorite New York festival known as Rooftop Films. What started out in 1997 as film screenings on the roof of a newly graduated film student’s apartment has now expanded across Manhattan and Brooklyn. The festival runs on weekends from May to September.
9. Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival
The Clermont-Ferrand in France is a festival dedicated to Short films, and runs over nine days in early February, attracting 100,000 + visitors each year. The festival has three main competitive sections for submitted films: The National Competition (devoted to French films), The International Competition (screening around 70 films from around the world each year), and the Lab Competition (for short films made using digital media). As well as the competitive sections, Clermont-Ferrand also organizes screenings of rare shorts based on a country or theme each year.
10. Cannes Film Festival
Festival de Cannes is definitely in the top tier of the world’s film festival events, and runs from mid to late May every year. Cannes not only draws attention to and raises the profile of top films, but also contributes towards the development of cinema. The festival is divided into the following sections: the International Competition (screening accepted feature and short films from around the world), Out of Competition screenings, Un Certain Regard, and the Cinéfondation selection (a selection of short and medium length films from film schools around the world), and Court Métrage (celebrating and showcasing short films from around the world).