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Film Festival

Find descriptions of large and small film festivals from around the world.

Large film festivals include the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. [©Jupiter Images, 2008]
©Jupiter Images, 2008
Large film festivals include the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.

The first organized film festival was the Venice International Film Festival held in 1932. Since that time, dozens of other films festivals have taken place throughout the world. Some of the largest film festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, are now household names. A film festival usually awards prizes to different categories of film and is an incubator for new talent, as well as a great chance for filmmakers to network with others in the industry.

A film festival often creates its own niche. Some showcase the world premieres of commercial films, while others encourage independent film and craftwork, such as documentaries or shorts, that don't garner much media attention. Other film festivals emphasize regional filmmaking.

A large film festival is a media extravaganza, with Hollywood celebrities descending on red carpets while paparazzi snap photographs. Some large film festivals, such as the Cannes, are exclusive and not open to the public.

While a small film festival might not hog the headlines, it might be easier and more affordable for an individual to attend. Those attending smaller festivals enjoy the same party-like atmosphere. Small film festivals take place throughout the United States and the world in cities such as Cleveland and Palm Springs. They give aficionados a chance to see some of the year's best filmmaking from around the globe.

Regardless of size, most film festivals run for a week or longer on an annual basis. Films are shown in screenings, and new talent and established masters are often both on the screen .

Large Film Festivals

Large film festivals present awards that are known throughout the world -- the Oscar, the Golden Lion, the Golden Bear and the Palme d'Or -- and tickets to these events are difficult to acquire. Some of these film festivals require an online application filled a year in advance to obtain tickets. Those selected receive an invitation to the festival, which might cost thousands of dollars to attend. Some people try for years to get tickets without succeeding.

Large film festivals are major media-driven events with star-studded attendees and big crowds.

  • Sundance Film Festival. In 2008, the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, presented films from more than 35 countries -- 207 films in all. While a ctor Robert Redford is publicly associated with the Sundance Film Festival, he is not responsible for its creation. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the festival existed before Redford became involved. The Utah Film Commission had earlier created the festival to draw tourists, but interest in the festival waned over time. In 1981, Redford established the Sundance Institute to revive the festival and focus it on emerging filmmaking talent and independent films. Some independent films have achieved great commercial success after being "found" at Sundance .
  • Cannes Film Festival. The Festival de Cannes, known in English as the Cannes Film Festival, is one of the world's most prestigious and influential events devoted to film. Celebrities, filmmakers and journalists descend on the French Riviera town of Cannes for 12 days in May of each year to honor selected films. Cannes also hosts a major film-marketing event to give filmmakers the chance to mingle with buyers. Cannes is a private, tightly controlled festival. Public access to screenings is nearly impossible without industry connections.
  • Venice International Film Festival. The Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, presents one of the most prestigious awards in international film: the Golden Lion. The festival is run by La Biennale di Venezia, a cultural foundation that also hosts major arts exhibitions. Only films that haven't been shown before are selected for screening at the Venice Film Festival. Public tickets are available for some screenings.
  • Toronto International Film Festival. Held in September, the Toronto International Film Festival has taken place for more than three decades. In 2007, it screened 349 films.
  • Tribeca Film Festival. In 2001, actor Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in the hopes that it would revive the economy and city after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More than two million people have attended the festival. Awards are given for feature films, documentaries, shorts and other films.

Small Film Festivals

Smaller festivals give those attending a chance to see some of the same films screened at large festivals. Small film festivals also give budding filmmakers the opportunity to have an audience. Film Festivals.com lists upcoming film festivals. Smaller festivals are easier to access and offer the same celebratory atmosphere. Those wishing to attend a film festival may consider one of the following:

  • Cleveland International Film Festival. The Cleveland International Film Festival screened more than 240 films from 60 countries in 2008. This annual festival, held in March, has taken place for three decades with the goal of promoting film that is culturally and artistically significant.
  • Chicago International Children's Film Festival. The first competition for children's films, the Chicago International Children's Film Festival was founded in 1983. Children, as well as adults, serve on the film juries.
  • Palm Beach International Film Festival. The Palm Beach International Film Festival has been recognized as one of the Top 25 Independent Festivals in the world. The festival supports emerging filmmakers. The festival also has seminars for independent filmmakers.
  • Buffalo International Film Festival. The Buffalo International Film Festival recently screened 23 films, including the premieres of two documentaries. The festival shows films from around the world.
  • Miami International Film Festival. The Miami International Film Festival seeks to foster tolerance and understanding of diversity by bringing international films to Miami.

Other communities hosting film festivals include New Orleans, Milwaukee, Maui, Telluride, San Francisco, Sedona, Aspen, Calgary, San Diego, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Nantucket and Kansas City. Many international communities also host film festivals.

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