Film Festivals are not merely large-scale film extravaganzas filled with glitz and glamour as most people would like to believe. They are more, so much more. These grand fests provide a well-deserved platform to stellar films of a diversified range. Films from various genres with varied concepts and formats and in different languages all meet at one place. Besides this through the various awards and screenings, they recognise the hard work of the directors and the artists involved in a film, providing them with due recognition for their efforts. Many movies screened at film festivals often go on to earn laurels at elite film awards around the world, the most famous one being the Academy Awards.
So, let’s not waste any time and allow us to introduce you to the topmost film festivals around the world also known as THE BIG FIVE.
THE ORIGINAL BIG THREE
There are many high-profile film festivals that take place around the world but there are three in Europe which are called the originals as they are the oldest Film Festivals in the world. They are not just known for their historic origins but also for the prestige they hold.
The Cannes Film Festival or the Festival De Cannes is the most exclusive film festival in the World. Founded in 1946, this invitation only event is held every year in Cannes, France. One of the grandest film festivals around the world, one can watch a plethora of celebrities from various parts of the world walking the red carpet at Cannes. Unfortunately, being an invite only event, the general public isn’t able to see its favourite stars. You have to be a celebrity yourself or a member of the press to qualify for an invite.
Over the years, the event has had its fair share of controversies though. One such event was the Heelgate controversy in 2015 where many female attendees were not allowed to watch a red-carpet premiere as they weren’t wearing heels. This led to the Flatgate protests where female celebs decided to wear flat soled shoes or no shoes at all at various red carpets events around the world in a mark of solidarity. This incident helped Cannes play an important role in not just showcasing quality films but also women Empowerment.
Cannes 2023 – With sponsors like BMW, Kering, Chopard and Loreal Paris etc., the next Cannes Film Festival is all set to be held from 16 May, 2023 to 27 May, 2023. If not the stars, one can definitely visit Cannes to enjoy the warm, balmy air of the French Riviera.
The oldest Film Festival of the world, The Venice International Film Festival is held annually in Venice, Italy. What can be a more artistic place to host a major film festival than one of the renaissance cities?! Founded in the year 1932, the festival is part of the Venice Biennale which is one of the world’s oldest art exhibitions. The festival is usually held in late August to early September on the island of Lido.
During the past few years, the festival has seen an increase in the exhibition of American films and has proven itself to be a launchpad for the Academy Awards. Many famous films that went on to win the Oscars were screened at the festival. Some of these include, Gravity (2013), La La Land (2016), Dune (2021) among others. A pay to attend event, it attracts passionate filmmakers, tourists and movie fanatics every year. The tickets usually range from 12 euros to 50 euros, depending on the timings of the movie screenings. The subscriptions are on the higher end, their prices ranging from 50 Euros to 1600 Euros.
Venice 2023 – With major sponsors like Lexus, ups, Vivendi, Canon etc, the Venice International Film Festival will be held from 30 August 2023 to 9 September 2023. Save the date and prebook your tickets because you don’t just get to see the crème de la crème of movies but can also tour the historic city of Venice with its stone bridges, architectural marvels, the glass factories or maybe a romantic ride in a gondola.
Popularly known as the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival takes place each year in the capital of Germany. Dating back to 1951, the festival used to take place in the month of June but has been held in February since 1978. With tens of thousands of visitors each year, it is one of the largest film festivals for the public with nearly 400,000 people visiting the 2020 edition. If that isn’t enough the festival screens nearly 400 films each year of different lengths, formats and genres.
The eleven days of the festival aren’t just a treat for movie lovers, critics and filmmakers but are also important from a business point of view. The European Film Market that is held in partnership with the festival is one of the largest meeting places of the international film circuit. It’s a trade fair that serves distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers and agents allowing them to buy films that are showcased at the market. Another initiative, The World Cinema Fund encourages those films that are not focused upon at a global level. There is also the Berlin Co Production Market that provides information about the latest productions created with the help of Berlinale. Lastly, there is Berlinale Talents that brings together young and talented filmmakers from different parts of the world.
Berlin 2023 – With Principal partners like Uber, Armani Beauty and 2DF, the Berlin International Film Festival, 2023 will be open to the public from 16 February 2023 to 26 to February 2023. So, start packing your bags because its not just the movies that are calling out to you. Berlin is known for its vibrant culture and lifestyle. Pretty sure you wouldn’t want to miss the party!
OTHER MAJOR FILM FESTIVALS
Even though the original Big Three still remain, two others joined the list with the passage of time and went on to become one of the most esteemed and influential film festivals in the world almost at par with the original ones.
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is another prestigious event that is held annually in Toronto, Canada. Founded in the year 1976, it began as a showcase of the best movies from film festivals across the globe. Today it has gone on to become one of the most eminent film festivals around the world and stands second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pictures, stars and media presence. Similar to the Berlinale, this esteemed festival is open to the public. Thousands of people flock to the TIFF Bell Lightbox to participate in the event every year.
The eleven-day fest also has a reputation for creating the Oscar Buzz. Many movies that win the TIFF People’s Choice Awards go on to make a mark at the Academy Awards. Some of these include, Slumdog Millionaire (2008), 12 Years a Slave (2013), La La Land (2016), Missouri (2017), Green Book (2018), Jojo Rabbit (2019), Nomadland (2020) etc.
Toronto, 2023 – With major sponsors like Bell, Royal Bank, VISA and BVLGARI, TIFF Lightbox Bell, offers screenings, discussions, lectures etc. throughout the year. But the most awaited event remains the Toronto International Film Festival. The dates of TIFF, 2023 are yet to be confirmed but it usually commences from the Thursday night after Labour Day, the first Monday of September. As it’s open to the general public, people can enjoy the movies as well as explore the multicultural city of Toronto.
Formerly known as the Utah/US film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival is an annual event organized by the Sundance Institute, USA. It originated in Salt Lake City, Utah in the year 1978 and was originally meant for small budget films of independent filmmakers outside Hollywood. Over the years it has turned into a massive Hollywood extravaganza filled with Hollywood celebrities, paparazzi and media. The festival bore the brunt for the same when indie filmmakers complained that it was getting harder for them to showcase their works at major film festivals including Sundance due to the presence of large production houses. This was completely different from the 90s when small budget films at Sundance signed contracts with major.
With a change of rules in 2010, the NEXT category was added to the festival which allows independent filmmakers to show impactful stories that transcend budget constraints of small-scale productions.
Sundance, 2023 – With sponsors like Acura, amc Networks, Sapphire and Adobe, the Sundance Film Festival, 2023 will take place from 19 January 2023 to 29 January 2023. The tickets are available for both online screenings and in person screenings. The online ticket prices range from 20$ to 300$ depending upon your choice of package. The in-person packages are much more expensive ranging from 25$ for single screenings to 750$ for packages. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and book your tickets, January is right around the corner.
These are the Big Five Festivals around the world but they are not the only ones. As the film industry has gained more popularity, the world has seen an increase in the number of film festivals. Besides providing platforms to showcase films they also encourage and help new and upcoming talents of all ages gain recognition. That is what all filmmakers seek at the end of the day, isn’t it?