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Film festivals

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Subject: No Smoking (2007 film), Shanghai International Film Festival
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Film festivals

Film festivals

A film festival is an organised, extended presentation of films in one or more cinemas or screening venues, usually in a single locality. Increasingly film festivals show part of their films to the public by adding outdoor movie screenings.[1] The films may be of recent date and, depending upon the focus of the individual festival, can include international releases as well as films produced by the organisers' domestic film industry. Sometimes there is a focus on a specific film-maker or genre (e.g., film noir) or subject matter (e.g., horror film festivals). A number of film festivals specialise in short films, each with its defined maximum length. Film festivals are typically annual events.

The oldest film festival in the world is the


The first major film festival was held in Venice in 1932; the other major and oldest film festivals of the world are: Cannes Film Festival (1946), Festival del film Locarno (1946), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1946), Edinburgh International Film Festival (1947), the Yorkton Film Festival (1947)[5] Melbourne International Film Festival (1951), Berlin International Film Festival (1951) and Toronto International Film Festival (1976).[6]

The Venice Film Festival in Italy was established in 1932 and is the longest continually running film festival in the world. Raindance Film Festival is the UK's largest celebration of independent film-making and is taking place in London in October.[7]

North America's first and longest running short film festival is the Yorkton Film Festival, which was established in 1947 and continues today.[8] The first film festival in the United States was the Columbus International Film & Video Festival, also known as The Chris Awards, held in 1953. According to the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco, "The Chris Awards (is) one of the most prestigious documentary, educational, business and informational competitions in the U.S; (it is) the oldest of its kind in North America and celebrating its 54th year."

It was followed four years later by the San Francisco International Film Festival held in March 1957 whose emphasis was on feature-length dramatic films. The festival played a major role in introducing foreign films to American audiences. Among the films shown in its founding year were Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali.

Today there are thousands of film festivals around the world, ranging from high profile festivals such as

Digital feature film distribution began in 2005, along with the arrival of the world's first online film festival, the GreenCine Online Film Festival, sponsored by DivX.[9]

Entry fee

Most film festivals require new or relatively unknown filmmakers to pay an entry fee to have their works considered for screening. This is especially commonplace among larger film festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest and even smaller "boutique" festivals such as the Miami International Film Festival and the British Urban Film Festival in London. Established filmmakers are not usually required to pay entry fees to film festivals.

Not all film festivals require an entry fee. Rotterdam Film Festival and Mumbai Film Festival in India, for example, does not charge an entry fee to submit work. There are also many smaller film festivals in the United States, such as the Stony Brook Film Festival in Long Island, New York, the Northwest Filmmakers' Festival, or the Sicilian Film Festival in Miami, Florida, which do not charge entry fees; however, acceptance of films is usually more limited, and such film festivals do not necessarily attract big names in their audiences like Sundance and Telluride do. In some cases, such as the Portland International Film Festival, there is an entry fee, but it is waived for filmmakers within a certain region, such as the Northwestern United States.

Significant or notable festivals

The three most prestigious film festivals are commonly regarded to be that of Cannes, Berlin and Venice;[10] these festivals are sometimes called the "Big Three."[11] Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski's The Three Colors Trilogy were each made for these festivals, with Blue for Venice, White for Berlin, and Red for Cannes.[10]

The Toronto International Film Festival is North America's most popular festival. Time wrote it had "grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period."[12] Seattle International Film Festival is credited as being the largest film festival in the USA, regularly showing over 400 films in a month across the city.[13] The Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and Vancouver International Film Festival are also major festivals in North America.

  • Experimental films: Ann Arbor Film Festival was started in 1963. It is the oldest continually operated experimental film festival in North America and has become one of the premiere film festivals for independent and, primarily, experimental filmmakers to showcase their work.

North American: The San Francisco International Film Festival, started in 1957, is the oldest continuously running film festival in the United States. It highlights current trends in international filmmaking and video production with an emphasis on work that has not yet secured U.S. distribution. The Toronto International Film Festival, begun in 1976, is regarded as North America's most major and most prestigious film festival, and is the most widely attended worldwide. Toronto's Hot Docs is the leading North American documentary film festival. Toronto also has the largest amount of film festivals in the world, ranging from cultural, independent, and historic films. The largest festival, in terms of the number of features shown, is the Seattle International Film Festival, screening 270 features, and approximately 150 short films. The Whistler Film Festival, with its amazing location and breathtaking scenery, is getting bigger every year with more than 80 screenings and a well-rounded Industry Summit. Meanwhile, the New York Film Festival only shows a few films in each year, but it still has big impact in the United States. The Sundance film festival is a major festival for independent film. The Vail Film Festival in Vail, Colorado, is one of the "Top 10 destination film festivals in the world" (MovieMaker magazine), screens over 90 films, features mostly new filmmakers and honors Rising Stars, including Jesse Esienberg, Olivia Wilde, and many more. For short film enthusiasts and cinema professionals, Sagunenay International Short film Festival (REGARD sur le court métrage au Saguenay, in French) is now a "must-go event" (Francois Levesque, Le Devoir). The Slamdance Film Festival is self-governed "by filmmakers for filmmakers".[19]

  • Latin American significance: The Chile.
  • Asian Film Festival: Most notable amongst the Asian Film Festivals are the Annual Mumbai Film Festival in India, with its 200,000 USD cash prize (, Osian's-Cinefan Film Festival, which was recently expanded to include Arab Cinema as well, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) Ma Boli International Punjabi Film Festival Vancouver (Mipff) and Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).
  • Art and Technology: Cinequest Film Festival is one of the largest film festival in the United States to celebrate the convergence of art and technology. Forbes Magazine recognized the festival and how their "film and technology forums delved into the important realms of integrating internet delivery into the home entertainment environment, creating true Internet revenue streams for film artists, and effectively leveraging the budding mobile marketplace."
  • Emerging Filmmakers: The London Short Film Festival is a BAFTA-affiliated festival which takes place in January every year and is dedicated to finding and showcasing the work of new UK talent, including specific screenings for low budget work.
  • National Cinemas: There has been an increasing presence of film festivals celebrating national cinema. Large national cinema festivals include Italian, French, Russian, Korean, Spanish, German and many more. These are often held in cities with large diaspora populations. This year, Sydney hosted the world’s largest Lebanese Film Festival.
  • Interdisciplinary: There are an increasing number of interdisciplinary film festivals crossing film exhibition with content form other cultural and professional spheres. Rich Pickings uses short films as a discussion aid for public conversations between with scientists, technologists, psychoanalysts and filmmakers.

See also


Further reading

  • Turan, Kenneth, Sundance to Sarajevo: Film Festivals and the World They Made, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2002, hardback, ISBN 0-520-21867-1.
  • Watson, Nigel, "The Sense and Sensationalism of Film Festivals", Talking Pictures website


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