Film festivals are a great way to showcase your work. They are filled with writers, directors, producers, distributors, and everyone else involved in the film industry that can help you with your future as a filmmaker.
Even smaller gatherings and competitions can get your movie out there — and, more importantly, build buzz by getting people talking about it. Having your films seen can lead to everything from new writing and directing jobs, to finding an investor or distributor for your movie. The networking opportunities and contacts you make during these types of events will benefit you personally and professionally for years to come.
Here are the five most important film festivals for moviemakers:
The Sundance Film Festival is held in the state of Utah in the United States. It is one of the biggest in the U.S., and features short films, feature length, and non-competitive showcases. Sundance attracts some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from actors to producers, and is definitely a great place to network with real industry insiders and get your film seen by people that can further your career.
The Cannes Film Festival is held annually in France, and is one of the world’s oldest and most highly regarded festivals. Like Sundance, Cannes attracts the top film industry players, and also adds the European market to the mix. If your film is more of an art house project, it is more likely to shine at Cannes, where it is more about artistic quality over commercially viable films.
The Toronto International Film Festival has grown to become one of the most prestigious places to screen a movie in the world. What began as a showcase for other festival winners, Toronto has earned a lot of influence and is considered a top predictor of what will be successful in Hollywood. Some of the best movies made had their premiere in Toronto, which makes it a serious contender for any filmmaker who wants to have their work seen by the top players in the industry.
Tribeca is quickly growing to become the place to show for independent films. Started in 2002 by co-founder Robert DeNiro, Tribeca is held in New York. It attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year and brings independent filmmakers of all levels together. Like with other festivals on the list, Tribeca gets maximum exposure for you and your film with top U.S. industry leaders in attendance.
5. San Francisco
The San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest running film festival in the U.S. It runs for two weeks every year, and focuses on film and video productions that haven’t yet received U.S. distribution. If you’re a filmmaker in need of distribution, this is the best festival for you, and gives you a lot of opportunities to network with the people that have the power to get your film to the masses. Attracting over 80,000 people, the San Francisco Film Festival rounds out our list of top film festivals.
In addition to these five, there are many smaller festivals that take place throughout the year in cities all across the country. Though they may not have the same cache as the events listed above, they can be a stepping stone to bigger and better screening opportunities. And you have to remember it’s not just about the awards, film festivals are a great place to network, make business deals, and rub elbows with studio executives. Of course, they’re also a place to have fun, watch some new movies, find inspiration and see where the future of cinema is headed. Each year these events bring together movie lovers from all walks of life to socialize with like-minded people that share their passion for the silver screen.