A Brief Guide to the Biggest International Film Festivals

There are so many films out there now it can feel like an actor needs a passport to keep track of them all. There are specialist fests, country-based fests, Christian film fests, and even a Cat Video Festival. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you love cinema and want to work in the industry, these are great places to start networking and developing your skills as a creative professional to launch or further your career. A festival — usually called a “festival” for short — is an organized event that brings together filmmakers from various locations and exposes their works to an audience. If you’re not sure where to start looking for those perfect festival opportunities, here’s a list of some of the biggest international festivals from across the globe:

1. Aesthetica Short Festival (UK)

The Aesthetica Short Festival is a competition that takes place annually in York, UK. The festival showcases the best short films worldwide, focusing on UK filmmakers. Multiple awards are given to the best movies, including Best of Festival, Best Animation, Best Experimental Film, and Audience Choice. The event also hosts filmmaker master classes and workshops over the weekend. The overall running of the festival is managed via a board of visionary directors and producers from across the media industry. Various private businesses fund it, local authorities and grants. Aesthetica has been around for nearly two decades and has a rich history of outstanding films screened by filmmakers worldwide.

2. Ann Arbor Festival (USA)

The Ann Arbor Festival is one of the oldest festivals in America. It celebrates and showcases the local, national and international avant-garde mediums of film, video, and digital media. The event showcases experimental and imaginative film works alongside experimental and contemporary animations and live performers, which creates an unrivaled immersive experience. The festival attracts filmmakers and artists across the media spectrum to enquire, showcase, develop and distribute their work to enrich moving image technologies and create collaborative art projects with participating audiences across the globe.
Directors, writers, media theorists, and critics are brought onto lead industry panels for insight into the mediums of film, TV & digital platforms, watch screenings of internationally diverse films to talk about current affairs in modern-day art (Deadline: Summer 2019).

3. Ashland Independent Festival (USA)

Founded in 1991, the (AIFF) is an independent film festival that takes place every fall in the Northern Oregon town of Ashland. The annual AIFF is known for its unique, fun, and edgy programming, marrying independent and international films with hand-picked shorts, regional filmmakers, special events, and live music. The founder of the Ashland Independent Festival is John Madden. He had volunteered with the Cucalorus Festival in Wilmington, NC, which he thought was a great experience. With this inspiration, he created AIFF to continue his love for independent film by showcasing the best local domestic and international cinema to Oregon.

4. Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival (CAN)

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is an international festival that takes place every October in the Canadian Rockies. Established in 1981, Banff aims to preserve the environmental heritage of mountain regions through public education, advocacy programs, lectures, and inspirational events. The festival focuses on films, books, and music relevant to mountains and environmentalism. The event brings together industry leaders, filmmakers, and adventurers worldwide to celebrate mountain culture. During the festival season, the festival also hosts conferences on mountaineering literature and art.

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5. Big Sky Documentary Festival (USA)

Big Sky Documentary Festival is a non-profit, non-competitive film festival held annually in Missoula, Montana. The festival was started in 2010 by the filmmakers Alex Hammond, James Fox, and Brian Ostrow. They wanted to create a community for independent filmmakers to showcase their work and receive recognition for their work. The festival is focused on family-friendly films but also features some adult topics. Workshops are also available during the event, along with other events that include a scavenger hunt and a puppet show hosted by ZootFly Chuck Jones Experience.

The major festivals listed above are some of the biggest and most important festivals in the world, representing various disciplines in the arts. These festivals are responsible for discovering some of the finest films and filmmakers worldwide. They have been responsible for fostering new talent and have created an environment where filmmakers can learn from each other. The festival circuit is an integral part of filmmaking, and these festivals play a huge role in the overall process of filmmaking.