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Table of contents for Cinemoose Guide To Film Festivals

  1. Sundance and the Major Film Festivals
  2. International Film Festivals
  3. Film Festivals Guide Part Three: The Indie Festivals

Ah, the Sundance Film Festival. For independent filmmakers, it’s the holy grail of film festivals. Why?

Greed

It’s because this is where independent filmmakers go to sell their films. Without access to massive marketing budgets and studio distribution deals, independent filmmakers need a way to get exposure for their films so that they can find an audience. Film festivals are a great way to do this. Win a prize at a festival and you’ll receive tons of free publicity. You might even sell your film to a major distribution company (i.e. the studios).

But which festivals are worth submitting your film to? From major players like the Sundance Film Festival to niche festivals like the New York City Horror Film Festival, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of film festivals out there. How do you know which one is right for your film?

You could Google and Baidu your way through the endless sea of festivals, or you could sit back, pour yourself a nice glass of single malt scotch, light up your favorite cigar and let old Cinemoose help you find the best film festivals for your independent film.

The “A-List”

These are the festivals that will help you to either sell your film or launch a campaign for your film for the awards season.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Sundance Film Festival

Where: Park City, Utah, USA
When: January
Deadline
: August/ Mid- September/ Late September
Entry Fee: $35/ $50/ $75
Requirements: Must be World Premiere

Top Prize: Grand Jury Prize

Like it or not, the Sundance Film Festival is more a film market now than a celebration of the independent spirit and works of filmmakers working outside the studio system. This festival is where the studios go to buy their Juno‘s, their The Blair Witch Project‘s, their Napoleon Dynamite‘s and their Little Miss Sunshine‘s. And their willing to shell out big bucks for them too.

BERLINALE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Berlinale International Film Festival

Where: Berlin, Germany
When: February
Deadline: November
Entry Fee: 125 Euros

Top Prize: Golden Bear

If you want exposure, the Berlin International Film Festival is one of the largest and most attended film festivals in the world. The European Film Market, the European counterpart to the AFM, coincides with the film festival for all your business and pre-sales needs.

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

Tribeca Film Festival

Where: New York City, New York, USA
When: April
Deadline: November/ December/ January
Entry Fee
: $45/ $65/ $95
Requirements: Must be North American premiere

Top Prize: Best Narrative Feature Film

Founded by Robert De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal to contribute to the recovery of downtown New York after the terrorist attacks in 2001, this festival has grown in a short amount of time to one of the more prominent film festivals in North America. Although largely seen as just a venue for debuting big studio films, it can be good for the independent filmmaker to have their film shown alongside the star-driven studio films shown here.

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL (Festival de Cannes)

Cannes Film Festival

Where: Cannes, Cote d’Azur, France
When: May
Deadline: March
Entry Fee: 300 Euros

Top Prize: Palme d’Or

Both a film festival and a film market, Cannes is a unique experience filled with movies, stars and power deals. The most glamorous of festivals, the studios and stars come here to debut their major films out of competition and to buy the competition winners. Click here for a list of previous Palme d’Or winners. You might just recognize a few.

LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL (Festival del Film Locarno)

Locarno International Film Festival

Where: Locarno, Switzerland
When: August
Deadline: June
Top Prize: Golden Leopard
This festival is known for its magnifacent giant screen, one of the biggest in the world, hosted in a Renaissance square plaza that can accommodate up to 8,000 viewers. Seated at the foot of the Alps by the banks of Lake Maggiore, Locarno offers a beautiful back drop to go with the many film screened here.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL (La Beinnale di Venezia)

Venice Film Festival

Where: Venice, Italy
When: August/ September
Deadline: June
Entry Fee: 60 Euros
Requirements: Must not be screened in Italy or outside country of origin

Top Prize: Golden Lion

One of the oldest film festivals in the world, many consider Venice one of the best as well. The main prize is the Golden Lion and a win here will almost assuredly lead to bigger and better things. Plus, what could be better than spending time wandering around the canals of Venice?

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Toronto International Film Festival

Where: Toronto, Canada
When: September
Deadline: June
Entry Fee: $75 CAD
Requirements: North American premiere

Top Prize: People’s Choice Award

This is the biggest film festival in North America and second only to Cannes for its influence. Film executives fill the streets of Toronto every September looking for the year’s breakout hits. Toronto is one of the big “launch-pads” for building Oscar buzz for a film.

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