Essential 100 Film Festivals
Part 2


Raindance Film FestivalOpening his keynote address to the Production Film Market in October ‘10, Jeremy Thomas expressed his opinion that festival programmers were more important than studio heads. The right festival strategy can define the future of your movie, so budgeting and submitting (or attending) the right one is increasingly important for upcoming filmmakers and marketing execs.

Through this list I've tried to regroup the 100-odd most 'important' film festivals, markets and showcases in the world. If you like this list please visit the top 10 Documentary Festivals and 10 Short Film Festivals lists I’ve compiled.

Film Festivals shouldn't be compared like a university leagues table. The reality is that buyers, distributors and sales agents will focus on a number of different festivals for different purposes - both big and small, and depending on their business, geographical or political position in the world.

If you feel I've missed anything out please email me, better yet send me the festival programme by post.

Please note at print time some festival dates are approximate.

[Jan - March] [April - June] [July - Sept] [Oct - Dec]

Hong Kong International Film Festival Hong Kong Film Festival

21st March - 3rd April 2012
19th - 21st March: Filmart & The HK-Asia Film Financing Forum
A must stop for Asian film acquisitions, the HKIFF sees over 5000 industry representatives and over half a million cinephiles every year.

Despite running the ever-popular Filmart (film market), and despite heavily subsidized international delegations, foreign attendants regularly comment on language barrier stalling deals.
Website | Twitter


Ann Arbor Film Festival Ann Arbor Film Festival

27th March - 1st April 2012
The artiest festival on the list, the Ann Arbor specializes in experimental and avant-garde films. In 2006-2007 the festival came under attack by a group which considered its programming offensive and led to a fall in state funding.

The festival not only launched a very successful fundraise campaign, but took the case to court over First Amendment violations and won.
Website | Twitter

Cinema Du ReelCinema du Réel

22nd March - 1st April 2012

One of France’s largest documentary showcases held every year in Paris, the Cinema du Reel (not to be confused with Geneva’s Vision du Réel) screens about 200 relatively unseen.

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1st - 4th April 2012
It’s easy to get confused with all the MIP conferences held in Cannes every year, but they are definitely one of the best known and attended largely due to their extensive marketing worldwide. Specifically aimed at television MipTV is also a stop for a decent number of sales agents selling directly to television but also as a meeting stop for discussing upcoming productions.

BAFICIBuenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI)

11th - 22nd April 2012
Specialising in world premieres for Latin American films, the BAFICI also hosts its own Talent Campus (in association with Berlinale) and Buenos Aires Lab. In 2009 the Latin American Film Market aka: Ventana Sur was set up in association with Cannes’ Marché du Film, which has rapidly become an important stop in the market circuit.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

TriBeCa Film FestivalTribeca Film Festival

18th - 29th April 2012
Set up by Robert DeNiro to reinvigorate the TriBeCa area, Tribeca Film Festival has now become one of the most watched (and best funded) festivals in the US offering a mix of independent and mainstream US premieres. Recently Tribeca has been involved (and a naming partner) of Qatar’s £3bn investment funding into arts through the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, as well as supporting documentary filmmakers through the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

San Francisco Film Festival San Francisco International Film Festival

19th April - 3rd May 2012
America’s oldest film festival is also one of the most risk-taking. Its huge programme blends both mainstream festival circuit hits as well as out-of-the-blue indies, which has set SFIFF a bande-apart from other city based festivals. Though closely watched by industry, its main audience comes from a huge local and loyal following.
Website | Twitter

Hot Docs Hot Docs

26th April - 6th May 2012
The world’s most important documentary festival, Hot Docs in Toronto screens the who’s who of the documentary releases of the year. Hot Docs has kept clear from steering into the television realm, which has kept it leaps ahead of its closest rivals IDFA and Leipzig. Its huge international delegation, conference and market makes this the Cannes of the documentary world.
Website |
Twitter | Facebook

Udine Far East Film FestivalUdine Far East Film Festival

20th April - 28th April 2012
Udine’s young festival dedicates itself entirely to far eastern cinema, with strands focusing on different countries but also retrospectives.

The festival is worth attending for programmers looking at expanding their oriental slate, but tends to showcase somewhat predictable and festival circuit films.

Nippon ConnectionNippon Connection Frankfurt

2nd - 6th May 2012
The unlikely home for the world’s largest showcase of Japanese cinema, Nippon Connection, has reached a comfortable position in its 10year history. Their large programme selection means the festival is generally seen more as a film market than a film festival, making it a must of film buyers from around the world. Its delegate centre sets up in the JWG University, and for 4 days hosts one of the most informal and down to earth festival focuses.
Website Twitter Facebook

DOXA Documentary Film Festival DOXA Vancouver

4th - 13th May 2012
Overlapping Hot Docs by a couple days, DOXA’s selection in recent years has included both a number of Hot Docs re-runs, but has also offered some of the most original and carefully curated films of the year which has garnered the festival particular focus from distributors from around the world.
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Cannes Film FestivalCannes Film Festival

16th - 27th May 2012
The king of festivals, Cannes is the most important date in filmmakers’ calendar. Attracting hundreds of parties, glamour, yachts and celebrities, it also runs in parallel with a number of other festivals all serving under the same banner. Expect champagne, tuxedos, lots of business cards, business and lots of bullshit. The festival includes the Cannes Short Film Corner and Producers Network alongside the below strands.

Marche du FilmMarché Du Film

16th - 25th May 2012
The Cannes Film Market is the biggest in the world, only ranked alongside the European, American and Asian Film Markets. Hosting 6000odd screenings in two weeks, it is run specifically to sell films and spreads across the Palais des Festivals and the hotels and small cinemas spreading out across Cannes. In recent years Cannes’ market has consulted on the creation of satellites in Latin America.

Un Certain regard Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard

16th - 27th May 2012
One of the official selections in Cannes, Un Certain Regard (roughly translated as ‘a different point of view’) was created in 1978 after fierce criticism of the standard festival selection. The films tend lean more towards indie and art-house.


Dire3ctors Fortnight Directors' Fortnight

17th - 27th May 2012
The Quinzaine Des Realisateurs was launched in 1969 and hosts 20 feature and 10 short film screenings, run by the Société des réalisateurs in Paris. Screened in the Salle Jean Cocteau/Miramar, it shows very few films in order to offer them more visibility and looks at art-house world cinema.

Semaine de la Critiques CannesSemaine de la Critique/Critics Weeks

17th - 25th May 2012

Screening 7 shorts and 7 features since 1962, the Critics week screens only first or second time films.

Bertolucci, Ken Loach and Gaspar Noé all started here.



17th - 26th May 2012
Over the last four-odd years the Association Du Cinema Independent et pour sa Diffusion has gained a prominent place running its sideline strand of relatively private independent and newcomer screenings outside of the festival bubble.

2010 hits included Donoma and Robert Mitchum Est Mort, both of which screened at Raindance.


Seattle International Film Festival Seattle International Film Festival


17th May – 10th June 2012
One of the many North American film festivals to follow a recent trend in purchasing its own cinema, the festival has the unfortunate of overlapping Cannes though defending its timing as an audience festival rather than an industry event. That said the festival attracts a stellar number of northern American premieres and an extremely wide and diverse range in programming. If I weren’t in Cannes, I’d be here.

Zlin Film Festival Zlin Fest: International Film Festival for Children and Youth


27th May - 3rd June 2012
One of the oldest festivals of its kind in the world, the Zlin International Film Festival for Children and Youth screens over 570 films aimed specifically for youths.

Sydney Film Festival Sydney Film Festival

6th - 17th June 2012
Sydney Film Festival’s an interesting addition to this list. On one hand it celebrates Australian/New-Zealand productions – the only category eligible to submit, whilst all other international features are screened by invitation only – which has resulted in a fairly predictable programme of festival circuit films, often duplicated off the big player festivals. Whilst considerably older than Melbourne or Adelaide, SFF has been trailing behind though its domestic films still seem to keep it in the limelight.
Website  | Twitte

Transylvania IFF Transylvania International Film Festival

1st - 17th June 2012
The youngest addition to the list, Transylvania’s small town festival has managed to reach some stature amongst the eastern European block both with its mix of glamour and informality. 2010’s programme included a number of Far East titles that barely screened this side of the Rhine, as well as some of the best Eastern European films of the year. Definitely worth following.

Annecy International Animated  FF Annecy International Animated Film Festival

 4th - 9th June 2012
The world’s most important animation festival, Annecy reached 50 years of age in 2010 and welcomes the largest numbers of animation professionals in Europe. With a huge following by film studies groups and animation study courses, the festival has become one of the funnest to attend – maybe in part due to the swarms of students who attend, and meetings are hosted between the stands and the picturesque lake.
Website | Twitter

MIFA Marché International Du Film d’Animation (MIFA)

4th - 9th June 2012
The International Animation Film Market sees over 2000 delegates and 500 stands pitch up camp for 2 days within the film festival, boasting everything from training to new animation content. The festival and market is a calling card for anybody wanting to get into the field.

Afi Discovery Channel Silver Docs: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival

18th - 24th June 2012
Created in 2003 by AFI and held in Maryland, about an hours drive from Washington DC, the week-long festival is split between the Discovery Communications HQ and AFI owned Silver cinema. In parallel to the festival they host the International Documentary Conference, focusing on seminars and worshops for various industry and participants.
Website | Twitter

Palm Springs Short film FestivalPalm Springs Shortfest and Film Market

19th - 25th June 2012
Palm Springs Shortfest is the most important short film festival in North America. Combined with the Film Market, it offers a chance for debut filmmakers to be discovered and an important stepping stone in the short film circuit, alongside Clermond Ferrand and Cannes Short Film Corner.
Website | Twitter

Edinburgh IFFEdinburgh International Film Festival

20th June - 1st July 2012
One of the leading (and oldest) festivals alongside Venice and Cannes, the EIFF is innovative in showcasing both art-house and mainstream discoveries alongside. More recently the festival was beset by politics, changed dates from the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August to mid-June, moved away from its traditional programming and lost its main funding partner. Despite much eyebrows being raised over recent changes, EIFF’s British film showcase remains second to none.
Website | Twitter

Moscow IFF Moscow International Film Festival

21st - 30th June 2012
Russia’s leading film festival, the Moscow Film Festival - for its first few years, divided itself bi-annually with Karlovy Vary. Hosted with a certain level of muscovite glamour the festival’s highlight is its European film strands. Despite never really having any following in the West it garners significant attention from the Balkan or Eastern European states – for which it is one of the first points of call in the festival circuit.

London UK Film Focus (LUFF)

25th - 28th June 2012
Largely inspired by the London Screenings which ran until 2002, The LUFF was set up by Film London in 2004 for essentially the exact same reasons – to host new British films to international buyers. The four-day event has become an important date for UK sales agents and is held in BFI’s Southbank.

[Jan - March] [April - June] [July - Sept] [Oct - Dec]

Casting Your Film

Learn about the casting process and the best ways to get the right actors for your production.

Tutors: Rory O'Donnell Venue: Raindance Film Centre
10 Craven Street, WC2N 5PE
Date: April 9 Duration: Single Eveninng
Time: 6:30pm - 9:30pm Price: £48

For Raindance Premium Members Discounts log into the Members Area

About The Author

Xavier Rashid worked as a freelance journalist, covering festivals and film columns for several worldwide film publications, fashion magazines and journals.

He joined Raindance in 2008 and worked on course administration and then helped to organise the festival. Xavier left Raindance in the summer of 2011 and became an expert in civic litigation and Employment Tribunal law. He then set up his own company, Film Republic, He has helped launch several charitable projects.

If you are interested in working with Xavier and want to know what a great guy he is, tand hpow he really helped Raindance, then email us for a reference.

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World's Top Film Festivals Part 2