Top 50 Best Film Festivals
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Did you know that there are at least ten thousand film festivals in the world?
But with so many film festivals out there, how do you choose the best film festivals to submit your film?
We’ve put together a list of the best and most interesting film festivals in the world.
This is a subjective list based on criteria such as prestige, potential exposure, networking opportunities, prize money, accessibility and brand-ability.
We all know the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival, but what about lesser known festival with great potential?
Also have a look at the Top Emerging Film Festivals in the World.
The Sundance Film Festival brings together the most original storytellers and the most adventurous audiences for its annual program of dramatic, documentary, and short films; New Frontier films, performances, exhibitions, and virtual reality experiences; episodic storytelling; lively filmmaker conversations and panel discussions; and dynamic music events. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gained critical recognition and reached worldwide audiences eager for fresh perspectives and new voices.
The Cannes Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world. Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. It is one of the "Big Five" film festivals, alongside the Venice Film Festival in Italy, the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival® in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and the innovative national distribution programme Film Circuit.
The Berlinale is a unique place of artistic exploration and entertainment. It is one of the largest public film festivals in the world, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe each year. For the film industry and the media, the eleven days in February are also one of the most important events in the annual calendar and an indispensable trading forum.
The Berlin International Film Festival enjoys an eventful history. The festival was created for the Berlin public in 1951 as a “showcase of the free world”. Shaped by the turbulent post-war period and the unique situation of a divided city, the Berlinale has developed into a place of intercultural exchange and a platform for the critical cinematic exploration of social issues.
The Venice International Film Festival is organised by La Biennale di Venezia and directed by Alberto Barbera. The Festival is officially recognised by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association).
The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organises retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.
A platform for independent filmmaking, creative expression and immersive entertainment, Tribeca supports emerging and established voices, discovers award-winning filmmakers, curates innovative and interactive experiences, and introduces new technology and ideas through panels, premieres, exhibitions, and live performance.
At Austin Film Festival, it is our ongoing mission to champion the work of writers and filmmakers, and this goal has never felt as urgent as it does today. Our film competition has grown year after year and so have our efforts to serve as an avenue into the ever-evolving entertainment industry. Now, more than ever, we are thrilled to announce the inaugural Enderby Entertainment Filmmaking Fellowship Award and the Austin Film Festival Jury Advisory Program.
In October, Portland won't just be the city of roses—it'll be the city of film. All for the love of film, our weeklong event is jam-packed with networking, workshops, guest speakers, film premieres, financing talks, director Q&As and more. There's a reason Portland is different. Come be a part of what MovieMaker Magazine calls, "one of the coolest film festivals in the world."
Founded in 1969 as the Sinking Creek Film Celebration, Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is one of the longest-running film festivals in the country and one of the most acclaimed festivals in the South. Hosted in Music City, NashFilm attracts enthusiastic film lovers from all across the country and has been praised by film-goers and filmmakers alike for its unique combination of big city festival atmosphere and laid back Southern hospitality. Showcasing approximately 200 films from over 30 countries, a screenplay competition, episodic competition, live music showcases and parties almost every night, the 51st Nashville Film Festival will be an event to remember.
Raindance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the UK, currently rated top 10 international film festival for filmmakers to consider, according to studiobinder. It is based in the heart of London’s buzzing West End film district.
Raindance Film Festival is officially recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences USA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the British Independent Film Awards. Selected shorts will qualify for Oscar® and BAFTA considerations.
The Slamdance Film Festival is a showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking that lives and bleeds by its mantra: By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers. Slamdance has created a track record for showcasing breakthrough artists that is beyond dispute. Filmmakers who first presented their work at the festival are now amongst the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Alumni who have shown their early short films and debut features at Slamdance include Rian Johnson (Knives Out), Ari Aster (Midsommar), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball), The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame), Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Lena Dunham (Girls), Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), Lynn Shelton (Little Fires Everywhere) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk).
The New Orleans Film Festival celebrates cinema like only New Orleans can, with brass bands, second-line parades, delicious food, and Mardi Gras beads for every filmmaker. It’s a city known the world over for its hospitality—and it’s also a city that knows how to party. NOFF is no exception, but we never lose sight of what we’re celebrating: exciting new films from bold, passionate storytellers.
Brussels Independent Film Festival creates a space for unique visionaries and voices. True to its history, the festival screens films of both novices and veterans—with medium and low budgets—from all over the globe. The festival’s goal is to create a warm, open atmosphere in which filmmakers, fans, critics, and producers can watch the films of emerging talents, explore new cinematic techniques and styles, and award cinematic excellence.
FLICKERS is a non-profit arts organization that supports and promotes the film arts in Rhode Island and throughout New England. Over the past two decades, its production, the Rhode Island International Film Festival, has screened 5,426 independent films and videos out of 68,337 entries, presented 1,322 World/North American premieres, featured over 1,100 entries that were locally produced, and hosted 4,193 filmmakers and crew. Since its inception, over 453,000 film lovers have enjoyed the Rhode Island International Film Festival and its programming, not including those in New England watching its weekly broadcast and cable programming series, doubleFEATURE.
The Chicago International Film Festival celebrates the best that cinema has to offer. Showcasing films from established masters and emerging storytellers, the Festival welcomes films from around the world. Offering an impressive selection of competitive and non-competitive programming, the Chicago International Film Festival brings films both domestic and international to silver screens in Chicago.
With 30 years of experience, Stockholm International Film Festival continues to explore and promote the great directors of tomorrow and is established as one of the leading film festivals in Europe. With a passion for visionary filmmaking, the festival keeps on pushing forward the boundaries of cinema.
Founded in 1990 by a group of film enthusiasts, Stockholm International Film Festival has evolved to become one of the major annual cultural events in Sweden.
DOC NYC, New York's documentary festival, is an annual event based in Manhattan at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre, and Cinépolis Chelsea. Voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the "top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world", the nine-day fest showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations with acclaimed filmmakers and industry professionals. DOC NYC seeks to make connections that happen “only in New York.” Filmmakers whose projects are selected to screen at DOC NYC will receive badges providing rush access to all regular films as well as to DOC NYC PRO panel programming for the duration of the nine-day festival.
Audacious and innovative, open and rallying, since 1971, the Montreal Festival du nouveau cinema (FNC) brings all its fire to the service of the 7th art. As the oldest Canadian film festival and distinguished for its prominent programming, the FNC’s mandate is to support emerging filmmakers by promoting their original and diverse voices, as well as to exhibit major cinematographic works of the contemporary cinema. Every year, we showcase more than 300 works from over 60 countries. The « nouveau » is embodied through three axes : new artists, new perspectives, and new technologies, paired with conferences, special events, and festive parties.
SFiFF is now one of the top regional film festivals in the United States. The Fest is a creative center for film in Santa Fe, allowing filmmakers to connect with industry and distributors. SFiFF showcases emerging and established filmmakers by screening features and shorts in one of the greatest art cities in the world. SFiFF offers cash prizes in most categories, filmmaker travel, and all-access passes to the festival. Santa Fe is now one of the greatest theater cities on earth with the newly opened 11 screen Violet Crown, George RR Martin’s Jean Cocteau, the historic Lensic Theater, The Screen, and the Center for Contemporary Arts.
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, is the oldest non-fiction festival in North America. HSDFF offers multiple awards categories, and is a designated Academy-Award© -qualifying festival for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Documentary Short Subject.
Established in 1985, the Warsaw Film Festival joined in 2009 the elite group of events recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (www.fiapf.org) as international film festivals - next to Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Locarno, San Sebastian, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Moscow, Mar del Plata, Montreal, Shanghai, Cairo, Goa, and Tallinn.
The WFF differs from other festivals in its programme, just as Warsaw differs from other cities. Selecting the films, we always remember about our audience - native Varsovians, those working or studying in Warsaw, and those in town for a short while, for instance only for the Festival.
The Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) is the Southeast’s preeminent celebration of cinema and the flagship production of the Atlanta Film Society. One of the largest and longest-running festivals in the country, ATLFF showcases the work of both emerging and established artists and is one of less than twenty US film festivals that is Academy Award®-qualifying in all three categories: Narrative Short, Documentary Short, and Animated Short. Recent festivals have seen audiences of over 28,000 film-lovers joining over 300 attending filmmakers in support of works that push the boundaries of independent cinema.
Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF), is a 10-day International, competitive festival. Discovering and promoting independent filmmakers at their first or second film is at the very center of the festival's year-round efforts. BFF’s mission is to provide a public forum in Brooklyn in order to advance public interest in films and the independent production of films; to draw worldwide attention to Brooklyn as a center for cinema; to encourage the rights of all Brooklyn residents to access and experience the power of independent filmmaking; and to promote artistic excellence and the creative freedom of artists without censure. BFF, inc. is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest experimental film festival in North America. Internationally renowned as forum for artist made moving image art, the AAFF screens works across a broad range of genres including: experimental, animation, documentary, narrative and hybrid works. The AAFF is steeped in a rich tradition of ground-breaking cinema as thousands of filmmakers screened early work at the AAFF, including luminaries such as: Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, James Benning, Bruce Conner, Chick Strand, Les Blank, Suzan Pitt, and George Lucas.
Established in 1952, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is one of the world’s oldest film festivals and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest. The Festival has a large, dedicated and growing audience with a well-established public profile as a major event on the Australian calendar.
The Cleveland International Film Festival is one of the largest and most respected regional film festivals in the US. CIFF is one of the few Academy Award® qualifying festivals in the world for all three categories of short films – live action, animated, and documentary.
The Seattle International Film Festival is presented each year from mid-May to mid-June. It is the largest film festival in the United States, presenting more than 400 features, documentaries, and short films to an audience of over 138,000 each year. SIFF is consistently ranked as one of the top festivals in North America, and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short films.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is an eleven day event held in the seaside city of Santa Barbara, California (90 minutes north of Los Angeles). SBIFF is proud to present a diverse slate of more than 200 films to over 90,000 film enthusiasts. Our audience is a unique combination of film industry professionals, local, regional and International attendees, and a large student population.
Founded in 1974, the AIFVF has been presenting the best in international film for 46 years. Known globally as a festival that supports cinema from underground and marginalized populations, the AIFVF represents the values that we share as a community. It is a champion of justice and provides a voice for underrepresented artists and viewpoints on a global level. For four decades, Athens International has embraced experimental, narrative, short-form, feature length, and documentary films from every corner of the globe, offering filmmakers a stellar platform for public exposure and an environment that values artistry above marquee names and industry relationships.
LA Shorts International Film Festival ranks among the most prestigious and largest international short film festivals in the world.
The festival is accredited by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. 58 LA Shorts filmmakers have earned Academy Award® nominations, with 15 taking home the Oscar.
SFFILM champions the world's finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Building on a legacy of more than 60 years of bringing the best in world cinema to the Bay Area, SFFILM is a national leader in exhibition, education, and filmmaker services.
Through intelligent and innovative programming, SFFILM Festival creates singularly vital experiences for audiences of all kinds. An essential stop on the international film festival circuit, SFFILM Festival is well regarded as a significant celebration of world cinema in one of the country's most beautiful cities.
HollyShorts is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums. The Academy Qualifying HollyShorts Film festival showcases the top short films produced 40- minutes or less.
Each fall, AFI FEST presents the year's most significant films. Kicking off the awards season each year, AFI FEST offers a crucial avenue of exposure to the entertainment community. Featuring international work from emerging filmmakers, global showcases of films from the great masters, tributes and red-carpet gala premieres, AFI FEST brings the very best of world cinema to the city of Los Angeles, the film capital of the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards.
Founded in 1987 and one of the UK's leading film events, Leeds International Film Festival is renowned as a dynamic event with a reputation for challenging and innovative programming.
A qualifying event for both the Academy Awards and BAFTAs, LIFF presents nine national and international competitions for short films with total cash prizes of over $5000.
Regarded as one of the finest film festivals in the U.S., the Florida Film Festival is an annual showcase for the best in American Independent and Foreign Cinema.
This 10 day celebration of filmmakers and their art includes an Oscar® accredited American Independent Film Competition for features, docs, shorts, and animation, along with an International Showcase, Spotlight Films (those already with distribution), Midnight Movies, Music Films, Food Films, Florida Films, Secret Screenings, Tributes, Special Guests, Panels & Forums, parties, and more.
The festival discovers, supports and develops new talent in filmmaking, providing a platform for emerging and established filmmakers from around the world, and an unique focus on Boston based filmmakers. Connecting industry and audiences, the festival celebrates the creativity, diversity and impact of short film. There will be unmissable evening screenings where audiences can watch the best new short films from the hottest new talent, and opportunities to network with the industry. So whether you are a filmmaker looking to launch or develop your career, an Industry professional wanting to stay ahead of the game or a film lover wanting to soak up the festival atmosphere by watching great films, come along and feast your eyes.
The Hamptons International Film Festival takes place annually in October, with a number of additional events held year round in New York City and the Hamptons. Named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World as well as one of 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, HIFF is the premier film event on New York State's east end, and an intimate showcase of some of the year's best offerings in contemporary cinema.
Founded in 1976, the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) is Asia’s oldest international film festival and a pioneer in introducing Hong Kong, Chinese language and Asian cinema and filmmakers to the world. Annually screening over 200 titles from more than 50 countries in approximately 10 major cultural venues across the territory, the Festival is one of Hong Kong’s largest cultural events. The festival features world and international premieres of Hong Kong and Asian films, and Asian premiers of international films. The festival has maintained its founding premise of bringing films to local audiences that they might not be aware of, and of introducing Hong Kong, Chinese language, and Asian films to the world.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is an annual film festival held at the end of January in various locations in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Since its foundation in 1972, it has maintained a focus on independent and experimental filmmaking by showcasing emerging talents and established auteurs. The festival also places a focus on presenting cutting edge media art and arthouse film, with most of the participants in the short film program identified as artists or experimental filmmakers. IFFR also hosts CineMart and BoostNL, for film producers to seek funding.
The Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is the largest and longest-running ﬁlm event in Singapore. Founded in 1987 by Geoffrey Malone and L. Leland Whitney, the Festival focuses on showcasing international films and providing a global platform for the best of Singapore cinema. Over the decades, it has grown to become an iconic date in the Singapore arts calendar. With its focus on groundbreaking Asian cinema, this prestigious event is known for its dynamic programming and commitment to the development of a vibrant local film culture. Always at the forefront of independent filmmaking, SGIFF continues to be a platform for both established and aspiring filmmakers to showcase their films to an audience of local and international film buffs.
Since 1947, the Festival has brought ground-breaking, exciting and original films from all over the world to enthusiastic and engaged UK audiences and a wide variety of press and industry guests and delegates. EIFF seeks to discover and present the most creative and innovative developments in world cinema, bring filmmakers to local, national and international attention, and provide a dynamic and responsive platform for engagement with them and their work.
The Vancouver International Film Festival will be a showcase of exceptional international cinema in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. VIFF takes great pride in championing international cinema's most exciting new voices, offering diverse programming and fostering enlightening dialogue. Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sean Baker (The Florida Project) and Jia Zhangke (Ash Is Purest White) are but a few of the now-renowned filmmakers who attended VIFF early in their careers.
Throughout its 73 year history, the Locarno Film Festival has occupied a unique position in the landscape of the major film festivals. Every August, for eleven days the Swiss-Italian town of Locarno, right in the heart of Europe, becomes the world capital of auteur cinema. Thousands of film fans and industry professionals meet here every summer to share their thirst for new discoveries and a passion for cinema in all its diversity.
The Venice Film Week is an annual week-long event showcasing independent films with an edge. The event was created by independent filmmakers, for independent filmmakers, with the sole purpose to showcase and screen new and upcoming talent.
Running during, but independent from the Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica), the Venice Film Week focuses on the unconventional, the unusual, the underground, the intuitive, the innovative, the minimalistic and the true artists of our time.
OFF is Denmark’s most courageous and most adventurous short film festival. We always offer a varied and experimenting film programme garnered with thought-provoking off-screen experiences, debates, workshops, concerts and much more.
Every year in August, film enthusiasts from all over the world have the opportunity of catching an exceptional selection of Danish and international short films in Odense that would otherwise never reach the big screen.
The San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF, Spanish: Festival de San Sebastián; Basque: Donostia Zinemaldia) is an annual FIAPF A category film festival held in the Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastián in September, in the Basque Country.
Since its creation in 1953 it has established itself as one of the 14 "A" category competitive festivals accredited by the FIAPF, of which it has one of the lowest budgets. It has hosted several important events of the history of cinema, such as the international premieres of Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock (who attended the Festival) and the European premiere of Star Wars.
The Filmplaneet in Ghent founded the Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival in 1994, to focus explicitly on documentary films. During its original nine year run, the festival has become a respected international festival and is renowned for its strong, qualitative and independent film selection. Highlights were Frederic Wiseman's Domestic Violence, which had it’s World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and the Focus dedicated to the work of American documentary filmmaker Alan Berliner, who presented his latest film personally. In association with SMAK it also hosted Harmony Korine photo series ‘Milk Chicken Review’ and ‘Coke Head Swingers’ and the video installation ‘The Diary of Anna Frank. Part II’.
The Guanajuato International Film Festival has placed itself as the most important platform for young filmmakers in Latin America. Beginning in 1998 in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato City, GIFF offers an extensive selection of screenings, workshops, conferences and concerts that are free of charge for the audience. It’s also an essential destination for international film industry professionals for a wide variety of networking opportunities.