Film Festivals Around the World
People attend film festivals throughout the world for a wide variety of reasons. Some go hoping to find their big break into the entertainment industry. Others attend because they like the atmosphere and the hustle and bustle that normally accompanies the larger festivals. Still others enjoy film festivals simply because they want to indulge in gourmet and regional fare and experience new things.
No matter what your motivation is for attending a film festival or where you’re interested in traveling to, there’s likely a film festival in that destination or a nearby location. From film festivals in Europe, to festivals in Africa, to events in the Middle East, there’s an annual film festival somewhere in the world that will appeal to you.
Film Festivals in the USA
If you enjoy getting together with other movie aficionados, you won’t be disappointed with the assortment of film festivals that take place in the United States every year. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of big ticket blockbusters, documentaries, independent films or shorts, the film festivals hosted in the U.S. have something for everyone.
Here are some of the most popular film festivals that occur in the United States every year:
- Tribeca Film Festival: Founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff in 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival was created to redefine the film festival experience for mainstream movie goers as well as the world’s international film community. The festival normally showcases a variety of independent films, such as documentaries, narratives and family-friendly compilations.
The Tribeca Film Festival also has panel discussions with some of the industry’s established and up-and-coming personalities. The festival’s Artists Awards recognize the event’s winning films, filmmakers and actors who have original works of art.
- Telluride Film Festival: Founded in 1974, the Telluride Film Festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend every year, just after the Cannes Film Festival and immediately before the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. The program during this festival largely comprises new films. In fact, a new film must make its debut in North America to be eligible for this festival.
Given the festival’s tradition of showing premiers, the Telluride Film Festival has become known for discovering important films and influential filmmakers.
- SXSW Film Festival: The first SXSW Film Festival occurred in 1987, and the festival is now a much-anticipated annual event. The festival often spotlights independent films and emerging directors with unconventional visions, but established studios also test their comedies to see how they might do at the box office once they’re released to a wider audience.
The SXSW Film Festival is known for the high-quality, diverse films it features as well as the smart, enthusiastic attendees the event attracts.
Film Festivals in Europe
Whether you want to attend a film festival in France or one of the film festivals in London, you’ll have your pick of film festivals in Europe. Here are some of the continent’s most popular film festivals by location:
- London: Started in 1957, the British Film Institute London Film Festival, also known as the BFI London Film Festival, is hosted by the city of London in the second half of October every year. The festival shows over 300 films, documentaries and shorts from countries all over the world.
Originally intended to be the festival of festivals, the BFI London Film Festival now features films that might not otherwise get a screening in England as well as films that are scheduled to be released in the near future.
- Italy: The Venice Film Festival, or Venice International Film Festival, isn’t just one of the oldest film festivals in Italy. Founded in 1932, the Venice Film Festival is also the world’s oldest film festival. Along with the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival is one of the globe’s “Big Three” film festivals.
This annual event is part of a larger celebration, the Venice Biennale, which includes additional events such as the International Art Exhibition and the International Festival of Contemporary Dance. With screenings in the historic Palazzo del Cinema, the Lungomare Marconi and other nearby venues, the Venice Film Festival has evolved into one of the world’s most significant film festivals.
- France: If you can only attend one film festival in France, you may want to strongly consider the Cannes Film Festival. Known as the International Film Festival until 2002, the Cannes Film Festival is renowned for previewing films made all over the world.
Started in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival is an invitation-only event that normally occurs in May. Many Hollywood heavy hitters and starlets attend the festival, and it receives massive media exposure as a result. Film producers also often attend the event in an attempt to launch their new projects and sell them to global distributors.
- Spain: There are several annual film festivals in Spain that feature certain kinds of films. Occurring every September, the San Sebastián International Film Festival spotlights feature-length and short films. The winner of the festival’s “Best Film” title receives the coveted Golden Shell award.
The Huesca International Short Film Festival celebrates short films. Approximately 1,000 short films from more than 80 countries are screened during this fun-filled event.
The Festival Internacional Documental de Barcelona features documentaries, while the Orense International Independent Film Festival and the International Film and Experimental Video Festival highlight independent and experimental films, respectively.
Film Festivals in Other Parts of the World
There are also many other film festivals held around the world. For example, the Tokyo International Film Festival is one of the most popular film festivals in Asia. It’s also one of the most competitive film festivals in Japan. Established in 1985, the Tokyo International Film Festival is the only Japanese film festival that’s accredited by the prestigious International Federation of Film Producers Association. If you attend this event, you’ll have the chance to experience open-air screenings, voice-over screenings and seminars that discuss the film industry.
Started in 2010 by Chioma Ude, the Africa International Film Festival is a relative newcomer on the film festival circuit. Even though it’s one of the newer film festivals in Africa, the Africa International Film Festival has a full week-long agenda that includes award shows and training classes for filmmakers. Keith Shiri is the founder and director of Africa at the Pictures, and he is also the director of the Africa International Film Festival.
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