Major Film Markets

By Raquel Haber 

The film industry is fond of using jargon. From turning on a light to reading a line from a script, chances are, there's an industry approved terminology for it. Sometimes the terms are so similar, even more seasoned filmmakers can get confused. Case in point: Film festival versus film market. What is the difference? Hint: One is more likely to be profitable than the other.

Film festivals, the more glamourous sounding of the two, can actually be anything but, as everything from a local compilation of student films to a Woody Allen marathon screened in a cinema can qualify. Simply put, they're consumer events used to promote films to a niche market. They will be seen, but not necessarily sold and distributed.

Film markets also function as a means of promotion, but unlike festivals, they're trade events that target distributors. The public also attends, so that the distributors can gage a film's audience appeal. As many a filmmaker finds out too late, finding a distributor is essential. Without one, no one is going to see your film, and it will end up dusty, forgotten and alone in your gran's basement, next to the collection of chipped porcelain figurines.

But that won't happen to you. You are now in possession of "The List" so you can plan your year.

Key Film Markets


Sundance Film Festival

Park City, Utah, USA          
One of the heavyweights. This is the place to see and be seen come January, fashionably bundled in ski wear with faux fur trimmings. Chairperson Robert Redford brings the glamour to what is the largest indie cinema festival in the U.S. It's best known for having given such luminaries as Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky their big break.

Palm Springs International Film Festival                   

Palm Springs, CA, USA
The festival is run by the Palm Springs International Film Society, and has a reputation for spreading good "word-of-mouth" films. It's also known for showing some of the best foreign-language films, as it's screened the most foreign Oscar nominees. Palm Springs International also has ShortFest, a festival for short films, in June.


Berlin International Film Festival

Berlin, Germany                  
The Berlinale is an extremely important festival, particularly for European film as the it has a film trade fair called the European Film Market (EFM) integrated into its program. Around 400 films are shown every year as part of its public programme, the majority of which are European or world premieres.


Cannes International Film Festival and Market

Cannes, France                   
The food, the wine... there are definite perks to visiting France in general, but this festival is a definite highlight and must for both new and established filmmakers. Producers, directors, actors, distributors and everyone in between travel from around the world to make this event in the hopes of securing that coveted deal, or maybe even winning the Palme d'Or. Cannes is so important, we here at Raindance even have a Cannes Survival course


Los Angeles Film Festival   

Los Angeles, CA, USA       
Hollywood is home to the very centre of the film industry, so it'd only make sense to host such an event in the heart of it all. The festival attracts more than 90,000 people, showcasing a variety of independent, feature, international, documentary, short films and music videos.


Comic-Con International     

San Diego, CA, USA         
COMIC-CON caters to the Sci-Fi and comic-book film genres, bringing together exhibitors, producer and a large consumer audience. You'll definitely meet some colourful characters.


Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto, ON, Canada    
One of the "big three," and Canada's largest film festival, TIFF is often used as a launching pad for Canadian, Hollywood and international films. Tipped Oscar fav 'The King's Speech' premiered at TIFF this past September, winning the prestigious Audience Award.

Telluride Film Festival         

Telluride, Colorado, USA   
The Telluride Film Festival is operated by the National Film Preserve and has been going strong since 1974. The bulk of its programme is made up of new films, as the festival has the informal tradition of only accepting films to which it has North American premiere rights. The festival also features three tributes to important figures both known and not so well-known, past and present.


MIP-TV International TV & Video Market   

Cannes, France                    
Key decision-makers who deal primarily in TV and audio-visual content go to this forum to network over the span of 5 days during the Cannes film festival.

TIFFCOM Asian Market       

Tokyo, Japan                         
New Japanese and Asian entertainment film festival and market working in conjunction with the Tokyo International Film Festival. Exhibits include films, TV program, animation, publications, video games, comics, character goods and so forth.


American Film Market          

Santa Monica, CA, USA   
Over 8,000 acquisition and development executives, producers, agents, attorneys, directors, film commissioners, distributors, festival directors, financiers, writers and the world’s press from over 70 countries come together for eight days of deal-making, seminars, screenings, networking and parties.

New York International Independent Film and Video Festival      

New York, NY, USA          
The festival caters strictly to independent filmmakers. In addition to film, the festival hosts music and art events. They also screen and exhibit in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami.

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About The Author

Raquel HaberRaquel Haber is a Montreal native who decided to fly the coup in search of British accents and cuisine, only to find out that the rumors about boiling and blandness are (somewhat) true. She's happy to report that the accents are still kind of cute.

One day, she hopes to occasionally get up from her desk to direct and actually interact with human beings, since she now knows Barbies don't count. However, her perfected slouch position will remain intact, as she hopes to continue the writing bit as well.

In her spare time, she writes about herself in the third person and pretends to know what she's talking about.

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Major Film Markets