Want to be among the first to see the year’s best films? Experience the fun and excitement of some of the most popular film festivals around the globe.
1. Venice Film Festival (Italy)
Founded in 1932, The Venice Film Festival is not only the oldest film festival in the world, it’s also considered one of the most prestigious. Unlike Cannes, which is invitation-only, anyone can attend a screening at this festival (provided you can get yourself to Venice, of course). If you do get the chance to attend, rest assured it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only does the event attract some of the top actors and filmmakers in the world, it regularly premieres some of the most important upcoming films of the year. Usually held in August/September, the festival itself actually takes place on the island of Lido, Venice, Italy. Check out this handy list of hot spots from Observer to enjoy the star treatment during your trip.
2. Berlin Film Festival (Germany)
Also known as Berlinale, the Berlin International Film festival perennially boasts some of the top public attendance rates in the world. Founded in 1951, the festival usually takes place in February and screens up to 400 selections, ranging from avant-garde to high-profile mainstream flicks. Berlin has long been considered an important meeting ground for the International filmmaking community. It regularly attracts some of the top established and up-and-coming talent from all over the world.
3. Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)
Since it was established in 1976, The Toronto International Film Festival has come to be considered among the world’s most elite fests. This is perhaps largely due to its regular attendance of over 480,000 filmgoers and its reputation for generating Oscar buzz. The festival’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award has become known as a great indicator for how well films will perform during awards season. Usually taking place in September, TIFF is an unparalleled way to get a look at some of the year’s best fall premieres and is considered by many filmmakers to be the most important North American film festival. Plus, it gives you an excuse to head north an explore Toronto — which is definitely worth the trek, festival or no!
4. Sundance Film Festival (Park City, U.S.)
One of the more well-known festivals in the United States, Sundance was founded in 1978 as a celebration of the world’s best independent films. Though still an important cornerstone for independent filmmakers everywhere, these days it’s become a hot spot for the Hollywood elite as well. With over 40,000 attendees every year, Sundance is spread out across Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Mountain Resort. This can be an important consideration when selecting screening tickets, as the events are anywhere from half an hour to 75 minutes apart. The festival usually takes place in January/February and offers a really cool and creative way to kick off the year.
5. Tribeca (New York City, NY)
Founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, and Craig Hatkoff, Tribeca may be newer to the film festival world but has quickly defined itself as one of the greats. A celebration of New York as a major filmmaking city, the festival showcases everything from indie features by high-profile and emerging filmmakers to foreign films and documentaries. It also offers a vast number of panels featuring industry professionals and draws in large numbers of film aficionados and celebrities each year.
6. International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
The fact that the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, or IDFA, is not on many Americans’ radar may have something to do with the fact that it usually falls on or around Thanksgiving. Regardless, if you’re a fan of documentary films, then IDFA promises to leave you with plenty to be grateful for. Considered the grandfather of all documentary film fests, the IDFA is actually the largest in the world. Each year, hundreds of docs premiere here, making it a networking goldmine for documentary filmmakers.
7. Telluride Film Festival (Telluride, Colorado, U.S.A.)
Set in the beautiful mountains for Colorado, the Telluride Festival traditionally takes place over Labor Day weekend. Known as a refreshing festival for “real people,” it offers movie lovers the rare experience of enjoying the best new films alongside cinematic classics. The newer films you’ll find among the screening selections are almost always North American premieres, and have featured past favorites such as The Last King of Scotland, Slumdog Millionaire, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The older cinematic treasures include screenings such as restored silent films accompanied by live orchestras and unseen films by Walt Disney. If you’re looking for all the excitement of a first-class film premiere in a more laid-back setting, then Telluride is the perfect place to spend your Labor Day weekend.
Whether you chose to journey across the world or just a few states over, we hope you have a great time experiencing the fun of your next film festival adventure! See you in the pictures.