Essential 100 Film Festivals
Part 4

Opening 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]

Raindance Film Festival


25th September - 6th October 2013
The UK’s largest independent film festival will be running its 19th edition. The festival focuses on first time filmmakers and independent films and is closely watched by acquisitions representatives due to the discovery, bold and alternative nature of its programming. UK premieres have included The Blair Witch Project, A Serbian Film and Memento. The festival also runs the British Independent Film Awards.
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Dinard FF Dinard Film Festival / Festival du Film Britannique de Dinard

2nd - 6th October 2013
The unknown town of Dinard in Normandie has gained some following over the last 22 years for hosting one of the few British Focused film festivals (alongside Univerciné in Nantes) and in part thanks to the charter flights sponsored by the UK funding agencies (which has now apparently been retracted). It’s a good playground for some of the smaller independents to get noticed, but otherwise remains focused on many films which will have already achieved distribution.
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Sitges Film Festival Sitges Film Festival (Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantastic de Catalunya)

3rd - 13th October 2013 (tbc)
Reaching its 40th year in 2011, the Sitges Film Festival is the world’s best-known horror and fantasy film festival. Sitges is a major hub for film buyers looking to purchase the most saleable genres in cinema, and regroups both major theatrical and low budget horror.
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Pusan FF Pusan Film Festival/Asian Film Market

3rd - 12th October 2013
Since 1996 Pusan Film Festival has become Asia’s flagship festival. In 2010 its 73year-old founder Kim Dong-ho stepped down, news which was received with many questions about succession and who could match accomplishments reached over the last 15years:  a funding budget of over $5million, one of the world’s few major film markets, and changing the face of the industrial port town of Pusan (Busan) as a hub for the arts. With the announcement of the construction of a new arts centre in the vibe of the TIFF Lightbox, the Dureraum. The festival emphasizes both an art house and commercial programme, and is stringent on filmmaker attendance – supported by generous hospitality offers for participating films.
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7th - 10th October 2013
Outside of the Cannes Film Festival, MIPWorld organizes a series of conferences of which MIPCom is the most popular. Despite its online focus, it gathers a high number of television and film focused organizations who can take advantage of its informality, and relatively more focused attendance than other festivals like Cannes.
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Ghent FF Ghent Film Festival (Internationaal Filmfestival van Vlaanderen-Gent)

8th - 19th October 2013
Belgium’s Flemish film festival has been supporting Belgian films since the 70s, and after many stages of restructuring over the years is now considered one of Belgium’s leading festivals. Over the years Ghent Film Festival has tried to determine its focus, at one time bringing films that were unlikely to screen otherwise, but 2009’s edition was astoundingly predictable, which suggests a different focus.


Chicago IFF Chicago International Film Festival

10th - 24th October 2013
America’s oldest competitive festival has been presided over by Michael Kutza since 1964. Presenting a fair range of both indie art-house and Cannes/festival circuit films, the festival is an important publicity generating festival primarily for the Illinois region and gains a strong following of North American despite its timing over the busiest festival weeks in the calendar.
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Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Film Festival 

TBC October 2013
Formerly the Middle East International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival was created in 2007, only three years after Dubai Film Festival, in an attempt to compete for the Middle Eastern festival gap. In its young history the festival has quickly attracted some of the years most talked about films.
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Raindance Film Festival Hamptons IFF Hamptons International Film Festival

13th - 17th October 2013
Based about 2hours outside NYC, Hamptons International Film Festival is generally seen as a prestigious festival, focusing on the better known indies you’d normally expect to find circling the critics’ awards or Academies the following Spring. Its in-house labs are one of the biggest pulls for filmmakers in attendance, and the festival boasts an impressive lineup of (maybe not so indie) guests.

London FFLondon Film Festival

TBC October 2013
Easily one of the world’s most glamorous festivals, the London Film Festival gathers the year’s best of festivals films. Over the years the festival has consulted heavily on its industry reach which led to the creation of the London Production Market in parallel with the festival. LFF is one of Europe’s most important publicity generating festivals.

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Tokyo IFF Tokyo Film Festival 

TBC October 2013
In its 23 years the Tokyo Film Festival has reached a notable position, particularly thanks to its programme of new Japanese cinema. Over the last few years TIFF has hosted a green eco-theme with its green ‘red carpet’, and is one of Japan’s most closely watched festivals. Films compete for the renown Grand Tokyo Sakura prize for best film.

San Paulo IFF Sao Paulo International Film Festival

TBC October 2013
With over 400 films screening over a two-week period the Mostra Internacional De Cinema is Latin America’s most important film festival – whilst the largest Film Market is reserved by Ventana Sur in Argentina. Sao Paulo’s increasing funding levels has made it one of the world’s premiere showcases of the new releases of the year.
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Festival del Cinema di Roma Rome Film Festival

TBC November 2013
Rome Film Festival was the cause of some contention when the Berlusconi government announced it would be set up, with some funding diverted away from Venice and political reasons pointed out to be the main motivations. Despite some protests, Rome Film Festival soon emerged as one of Europe’s most talked about festivals, with an immediate ability to discover new indie and art house releases (in part Venice turned obsessed with Hollywood blockbusters) thanks to its requirements of a European premiere, which caused grumbles from a few other leading EU festivals.
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Thessaloniki FFThessaloniki Film Festival

2nd - 11th November 2013
Thessaloniki is the host of two festivals, the headline Film Festival, followed with the documentary festival in mid March. The festival’s been best known for supporting independent talent and recently has proved a hub for many far-eastern filmmakers. It has traditionally focused on Balkan filmmaking and steers away from the festival circuits you might expect to screen at Athens Film Festival.

Cinema Tours EcransCinema Tous Ecrans, Geneva Int. Film Festival

TBC November 2013
One of the highlights of Geneva’s cultural calendar, Cinema Tous Ecrans always includes a much more daring programme than its new rival Zurich whilst cherishing new talent through a wealth of short film programmes. Readily one of the most diverse festival programmes around, Tous Ecrans has also steadily embraced new media platforms.
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Festival Cine BFestival Cine//B

TBC November 2013
Barely in its third year that Cine//B Film Festival has turned a few heads with its small underground indie slate of Latin American cinema. Based in Santiago, Chile, this is definitely a festival to watch closely.

Cottbus FF Cottbus Film Festival / Filmfestival Cottbus

6th - 11th  November 2013
Set up post-war in Cottbus near the Polish border in 1991, Filmfestival Cottbus is an important stop for Eastern European cinema.
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American Film Market American Film Market (AFM)

TBC November 2013
The American Film Market started in 1981 but only received a prominent position in 2002 after it played some part in replacing MIFED. The AFM is an important hub for pre-sales and – predominantly – North American interests.

Taipei Golden Horse FF Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

TBC November 2013
Despite the political rivalries between Taiwan and China, the Taipei Film Festival is one of the Chinese-speaking world’s most influential festivals and is committed to a strong Chinese focus every year. Other than that the festival has no obvious agenda, with almost spontaneous strands, 3D presentations (Avatar in 2010), and some international grasp. That said the Asian selections are second to none and supported by phenomenal attendance figures.
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American Film InstituteAmerican Film Institute Fest

TBC November 2013
The second festival in my list organized by AFI (the other being Silverdocs) is the AFI Fest held in parallel with the AFM in November. The festival focuses on everything from Art House to alternative, North American and World Cinema focuses. Possibly the best curated festival in America, it is both a hub for industry representatives and an important publicity festival with its awards increasingly seen as a trendsetter and precursor.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Mar del PlataMar Del Plata 

TBC November 2013
Whilst Ventana Sur in Buenos Aires fairs for the top film market in Latin America, Mar Del Plata in the seaside fisherman town leads the way as Argentina’s prize showcase of homegrown talent, merged with the best of fests mainstream predictive features of the year.
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Torino Film FestivalTorino Film Festival / Turin Film Festival

TBC November 2013
Torino Film Festival maintains an impressive number of (in some cases European) premieres – and sizeable reputation thanks to its focus on relatively independent films and has set itself as one of the leading festivals in Italy.

Stockholm FF Stockholm Film Festival

TBC November 2013
One of the most popular city festivals in Europe, Stockholm Film Festival comprises of some of the year’s most predictable entries and offers no opportunity for discovering new films.

Cairo International FFCairo International Film Festival

TBC 2013
One of the first Middle Eastern film festivals to be set up, Cairo is best known for offering some of the best networking opportunities in northern Africa, whilst catering specifically for encouraging co-productions through the Cairo Film Connection.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Ventana Sur Ventana Sur - Buenos Aires Market

TBC December 2013
Set up with the assistance of Cannes’s Marché Du Film, Ventana Sur film market’s first edition represented a slate of about 60 Latin American features. Sometimes referred to as the Latin American Film Market, Ventana Sur is bound to grow from strength to strength as was demonstrated by phenomenal turn out and sales at its second edition in 2010.
Website | Twitter  | Facebook

Dubai IFF Dubai Film Festival

TBC December 2013
Barely in its 7th year that Dubai has set itself as one of the hubs in the international film circuit (or at least as long as the hospitality budgets last). The 2010 festival launched with The King’s Speech, and included a slate of films screened just about everywhere else before it. That said its Arab film slate was of some interest.The festival runs in parrallel to Dubai Film Market.

[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

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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 left Raindance in the summer of 2011 to set up his own company. In his spare time he has helped launch several charitable projects.

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World's Essential Film Festivals Part 4