There are about thousands of active film festivals all over the world every year. However, there are those film festivals that obviously stood out among the others. Some of these film festivals are elite of elites. Talking about prestigious film festivals, they are always on top of the list. These film festivals are Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance, and Toronto. They are not known by a lot of people for nothing. These film festivals are well-known all over the world because of their prestigious way of celebrating the said event.

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival was first founded in the year 1946 in September. This film festival is celebrated in Cannes, France every year. The fact that the said event is exclusive to those people who are only invited only shows how special the event is. Yes, you heard it right, the Cannes Film Festival is invitation-only. The people who are invited are directors, actors, journalists, producers, and probably anybody who are somebody in the film industry.

film festivals around the world

The films they show are from different genres, which also include the documentaries from all around the globe. Before it was named as Festival International du film, the event was first named as Cannes Festival or Festival de Cannes in French 16 years ago. “In order to achieve this level of longevity, the Festival de Cannes has remained faithful to its founding purpose: to draw attention to and raise the profile of films, with the aim of contributing towards the development of cinema, boosting the film industry worldwide and celebrating cinema at an international level. And to this day, this profession of faith constitutes the first article of the Festival regulations,” has been the mission they have been following for years.

This year, Cannes Film Festival just turned 71. When they were asked what is the secret if their lasting success, they said “While maintaining a solid connection with its past, the Festival is very ready to take on board new and original concepts. Over the years, it has evolved, all the while seeking to preserve its core values: a passion for cinema, the discovery of new talent, and the bringing together of professionals and journalists from around the world with the aim of contributing to the creation and distribution of films.

During every new edition, projects are conceived, experiences are shared and different cultures are discovered: it is this dynamism that makes the Festival de Cannes a true reflection of its time.”

Berlin International Film Festival

The Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin or also known as Berlinale is a film festival that takes place every February in Berlin, Germany. It was first founded on 1951 by the historian Dr. Alfred Bauer. Dr. Bauer was the first director until 1976. The event is celebrated and attended by thousands of people. Each year, the admission is up to 500,000 with around 300,000 tickets being sold. There are varieties of films they play during the event.

film festivals around the world

There are seven different film categories during the festival. These are the Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, Berlinale Shorts, and Retrospective.

  • Competition. It is a feature-length motion picture. The top Golden Bear is some of the prizes at stake.
  • Panorama. It is a film section that is “Controversial subjects or unconventional aesthetic styles.” LGBT issues are some of the involved themes.
  • Forum. Forum is an “experimental and documentary films from around the world with a particular emphasis on screening works by younger filmmakers.” What makes this film section different from the other sections is that films that belong in this category do not compete for the awards.
  • Generation. Children and youth are its main target for the film with two sub-categories: Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus.
  • Perspektive Deutsches Kino. Composes of different kinds of German films that highlight the current trend in cinemas of the country
  • Berlinale Shorts. This category is a “domestic and international short films, especially those that demonstrate innovative approaches to filmmaking”
  • Retrospective. This composes of classic films.

“Special series” are also added to the seven sections mentioned above like Berlinale Special, Gala Special, Forum 5, Culinary Cinema and the Homage.

Venice International Film Festival

film festivals around the world

This year, the festival will begin on the 29th of August and will end on the 8th of September. The festival is officially recognized by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association). Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Venice International Film Festival are generally considered as the big three when talking about film festivals. The Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia is the oldest film festival all around the world. The film was founded in the year 1932 and was established in Venice, Italy.

The festival aims 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.”

Sundance Film Festival

film festivals around the world

The largest independent film festival in the United States, Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City, Utah, with thousands of attendees. Last 2016, it was attended by over 40,000 attendees. Just like any other film festivals, Sundance Film Festival is divided into categories. Some of the competitive sections are American and international dramatic and documentary films, which are both feature films and short films. The festival also includes a group of out-of-competition sections: NEXT, New Frontier, Spotlight, Midnight, Premieres, and Documentary Premieres.

Sundance matters because its commitment to diversity and to opening doors for new talent has increased the numbers of women directors getting films on screens, and strengthened the opportunities for writers, directors, and producers from all backgrounds to be innovative, to take risks, and to get their stories heard and seen.”

Hong Kong International Film Festival

HKIFFS’s dedication to quality and intelligent programming, its devotion to the discovery of new areas of filmmaking in Asia and China, its exceptional work for Hong Kong cinema, seminars and acclaimed publications, gives it a unique and respected international reputation that helps promote Hong Kong cinema at home and abroad.”

film festivals around the world

Founded in 1976, the festival is one of Asia’s oldest international film festival. The festival features different kinds of films from different countries. This festival is also a major event with around 230 films for more than 60 countries.

Which film festivals have you attended already? If you are a film enthusiast, you might also consider adding some of these film festivals on your bucket list!