Film Festival Politics

By Elliot Grove 

Raindance Film Festival is open for submissions

Film festival directors, like myself, will always choose a world premiere over a national premiere. It is simply more glamorous. As a filmmaker, you have certain trump cards to play with when you submit to film festivals. When you are accepted for the first time to a film festival, it technically is your world premiere. But if that festival is a small festival, you may choose to give that festival a national premiere and save the world premiere for a  festival in another country.

Festival politics also kick in. If a film screens at Edinburgh, it is ineligible for the London Film Festival - which only screens UK or world premieres. If it screens in Edinburgh, it can screen at Raindance. A film premiering at Raindance is not eligible for Berlin because Berlin specialises in European premieres. A film can screen at Raindance and then Rotterdam however. A film cannot screen at Berlin and Cannes. Sundance winners are usually excluded from the Cannes Film Festival - not because they are ineligible - but because the directors of the Cannes Film Festival would rather screen world premieres.

On the other hand, in order to illustrate how ego boosting the so-called premiere drama is, allow me to relate some stories about my first-hand experiences with premieres and other festivals.

Raindance Film Festival Open For Submissions

We screen many shorts at Raindance. One particular programme a few years ago contained several truly outstanding shorts that were also selected for another British film festival. Screening in our festival would normally have disqualified these shorts, but the producers were eager for them to screen at Raindance because they supported a series of feature films in development and it was important that certain financiers and talent agents saw the work in front of a paying audience. In order to show the shorts, I simply told the festival programmers of the competing festival that we had not received the prints. This bare faced lie was enough to convince the other festival that these films were not shown at Raindance thus preserving their world premiere status.

Although I am not proud of this episode, I did it in order to protect the integrity of the filmmakers and of our festival. I also have been the victim of several world premiere pranksters myself, advertising world premiere screenings at Raindance when in fact the films had played in dozens of other festivals.

Playing premiere roulette is becoming more difficult as festivals become more web-literate. At Raindance we routinely do a web search on new titles, and will know in a matter of seconds which festivals a film has already screened at. We put  emphasis on premieres at Raindance - of work we determine is worthy of an audience. The premiere nature of our films ensure that acquisition executives attend, which ultimately serves the needs of our participating filmmakers.


Your Comments Please

If you would like to comment on this article, please click here

About Elliot Grove

Elliot GroveCanadian born Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the
British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007, the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree in 2011 and Raindance Raw Talent in 2013.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films incuding his latest feature film, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
He is regularly interviewed. Here is an interview for Canadian television


If You Liked This, You'll Really Like

Free article: The 5 Types of Film Festivals
Weekend Class: Lo To No Budget Filmmaking

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
Watch independent shorts, features and documentaries on
Submission details to Raindance Film Festival
Visit us on Twitter for daily tips and updates

© 2011 Raindance Festivals Ltd.
Reproduction of this article without written permission is strictly forbidden. For information on reprint rights please email


Film Festival Politics