1. FESTIVAL DE CANNES – ( CANNES, FRANCE ) -
The « masterpiece » of festivals, most years it attracts the latest from the world’s top directors and emerging filmmakers.
The relatively highly curated festival debuts important work that will eventually make their local premieres around the world.
The number of industry, talent and press that regularly descend on Cannes is unparalleled.
People all over the world are aware of it as a « brand. »
2. SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – ( PARK CITY, UTAH, USA ) –
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.
3. TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – ( TORONTO, CANADA ) –
Toronto is an early must-stop in the long lead up to awards season with Fall titles using the event as a crucial launching pad for their release.
Considered by many as North America’s most important film festival, Toronto premieres first-rate titles from established and emerging filmmakers alike, many only days (or even hours) after their world premieres in Venice.
While Italy’s (and one of the world’s) biggest film events may still corner the glamour factor, it’s Toronto that attracts the brunt of North America’s film industry (still the world’s most important) and it is TIFF’s agenda that establishes the early course of regional critics awards leading up to the Oscars.
4. SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST – ( AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA ) –
This may be a controversial choice, but we’re going for it.
Unlike any other festival, SXSW is uniquely establishing itself as the event on the cusp of technological innovation while redefining what a festival is.
SXSW made its name as a centre showcasing new music.
Later it established its film and interactive events, which have themselves rivalled the music component for attention.
In 2010, the interactive program grew exponentially and among the most popular offerings were gatherings showcasing the convergence of technology and film.
With innovators in both technology and film under one very large roof, the energy is palpable and SXSW may be taking a lead in showing how festivals may look in the future.
5. INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL AMSTERDAM - ( AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS ) -
Outside of the working documentary community, IDFA is still shockingly off the radar for North American audiences.
Despite obvious hiccups, documentary has exploded in the past decade and while many important docs have reached people’s radar at Sundance, Hot Docs, SilverDocs, Full Frame and others, there is a good chance that in any given year, a good number of the non-fiction film world’s most important titles started out at the world’s biggest doc fest, held annually in Amsterdam.
Its Forum is Europe’s biggest co-financing market for international doc productions, and its popular « Docs for Sale » is an important international doc market where buyers, sales agents and converge.
The fest also draws large local audiences.
6. VENICE FILM FESTIVAL – ( VENICE, ITALY ) -
For many, Venice ranks alongside Cannes as the top of the festival heap.
Like its French counterpart, the August/September event is a magnet for splashy premieres, stars, parties, paparazzi.
It has long been at the forefront for defining in the popular imagination how a film festival should look and feel.
That is not to say the substance isn’t there either.
Venice is the destination of some of the most important world premieres of any given year and while it typically beats its closest North American counterpart, Toronto, in screening the likes of a « Brokeback Mountain, » « The Wrestler » or « A Single Man, » many in North America’s film industry are fine with saving the extra expense and waiting for the North American debut in Canada.
7. BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – ( BERLIN, GERMANY ) –
From its Cold War roots in a now united Berlin, the annual Berlinale is one of the world’s most established film events and regularly attracts filmmakers and industry from around the world.
Attendees often praise the event for having the best venues of any film festival and it has long welcomed and celebrated the avant garde alongside splashy Hollywood work. Like many who travel there, Berlin has long been a favorite in the festival calendar for indieWIRE, though recent editions have called into question its overall importance.
Hype has too often turned to disappointment in recent years due to inconsistent programming. Even so, among the extensive roster of films in the fest’s various sidebars, some quiet gems nevertheless emerge. We’re rooting for this film festival to regain its deserved footing.
8.INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM – ( THE NETHERLANDS ) –
Despite being nestled in between Sundance and Berlin, there’s a regular crew of filmmakers and industry who regularly head out of Utah for the Netherlands and then on to Berlin.
Rotterdam regularly showcases important new talent and backs it up with its signature CineMart, which has found and helped finance new voices who’ve gone on to establish themselves in the worldwide film scene.
9. NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL – ( NEW YORK, USA ) –
While not exactly what might be called a « discovery festival, » the NYFF is nevertheless an important American showcase defining the most important voices in world cinema.
The highly curated event typically picks a select number of films from the world’s top film festivals, while also adding a more finite number of lesser known important titles from emerging filmmakers.
While it may not have the cache in defining for America what is « important » cinema as it did back when it began in the ’60s in the advent of the French New Wave, it is still a cultural beacon of record.
10. TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL – ( COLORADO, USA ) –
What makes Telluride unique its it programmatic mission of offering an equal number of both new and classics films that are presented over just a few days during long Labor Day weekend.
Top notch projection and sound give well-heeled attendees the chance to experience a sort of cinematic summer camp that includes substantive dialogue and insight on films and filmmaking, a low-key social scene and even in-depth printed program notes that stoke conversations among attendees.
It is a model event.
11. DEAUVILLE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL - ( DEAUVILLE, NORMANDY, FRANCE ) -
It was established by Lionel Chouchan and André Halimi.
12.THE CHAMPS – ELYSEES FILM FESTIVAL ( CEFF, PARIS , FRANCE ).
The festival comprises competitive sections for American dramatic and documentary independent films, both feature-length films and short films, and a group of out-of-competition selections, mostly retrospectives and avant-premieres.
Two film industry targeted events are hosted alongside the Festival, the US in Progress Paris program and the Paris Coproduction Village, the later one being co-organized with Les Arcs European Film Festival.
The 2015 Champs-Élysées Film Festival is scheduled from June 10 to 16.
13. DUBAIL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – ( DIFF, DUBAI, UAE ) -
Back for its 12th year, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) has announced that its 2015 edition will take place from December 9 – 16, 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah, the home of DIFF.
The festival’s 11th edition, which took place in December 2014, saw filmmakers, actors and industry professionals from across the globe descend on Dubai for eight thrilling days of cinema.
A total of 118 features, film shorts and documentaries including 55 world and international premieres from 48 countries in 34 languages were enjoyed by over 50,000 festival goers over the duration of the festival.
14. BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – ( BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA ) -
« THE FUTURE OF MOVIES IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO THE FUTURE OF SOCIETY. IN FACT, THE FUTURE OF MOVIES IS THE FUTURE OF SOCIETY. ALL DEVELOPING NATIONS AND TOP CITIES WORLDWIDE ARE COMING TO SEE BRANDED FILM FESTIVALS, AND INDEED THEIR OWN IMAGES, AS THEIR OPPORTUNITY FOR ECONOMIC, CULTURAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND CONTROL. TODAY, THEIR CHALLENGE IS TO MAINTAIN THEIR POSITION AND SUSTAIN THEIR REPUTATION. TO DO THIS, THEY WILL HAVE TO CONTINUE TO INNOVATE AND, CRITICALLY, TO DEEPEN AND EXTEND THEIR BRAND RELATIONSHIPS WORLDWIDE. VIVE LE 7E ART ET VIVE LE CINEMA ET LES FESTIVALS INTERNATIONAUX DE CINEMA ».