How many film festivals are there?

You have finished your film and now you want to get it out there under the noses of distributors, right? But which film festivals do you send it to? There’s over five types of film festival, and with over 3,000 film festivals around the world, negotiating a film festival strategy can be overwhelming.

Before you embark on your festival hunt it’s helpful to plan your strategy – and decide what your priorities are.

There are really 5 basic reasons to attend a film festival:

  • to expose your film to studio executives/Int'l film distribuors and hopefully sell your film & get noticed

  • to win awards

  • to do a Q &A

  • to get reviewed and interviewed to create opportunity

  • Networking with film industry professionals

The question is, which reason are you attending film festivals? And what is the cost of submitting and attending film festivals?

Film festivals are divided into categories based on the number of filmmakers,  industry executives that attend. Major and semi-major film festivals charge submission fees. It is here that your film has it’s best chance of being seen by a distibutor.

1. Majors-A list

The major film festivals, in rank, are: Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam and Venice. Cannes is undoubtedly the premiere event. Toronto and Sundance vie for the number two spot, but since Sundance has become a launching pad for Hollywood films, I personally give the number two spot to Toronto – if for no other reason than the important slots it gives to foreign language films. Berlin has an excellent festival with Europe’s most energetic and charismatic director. Venice is an important festival as well and of course Hollywood, Ca film capital of the World

2. Semi-majors-B List

Semi-major festivals are also excellent festivals to launch your films, and vie with the majors for industry and celebrity turnout. Festivals such as  Locarno, San Sebastian,GFA, Raindance, Tribeca and Karlovy Vary have hundreds of celebrities and paparazzi attending and can be a useful springboard to getting your film notice3. City FestivalsThere are many city festivals that attract the attention of filmmakers and filmgoers alike. They do not have a sizeable industry presence, very few acquisitions executives and are designed to appeal to the cineastes within their borders. Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge and London are some of the important UK festivals designed for local residents. Palm Springs, Telluride, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Montreal are a few of the many in North America.

3. City Festivals

There are many city festivals that attract the attention of filmmakers and filmgoers alike. They do not have a sizeable industry presence, very few acquisitions executives and are designed to appeal to the cineastes within their borders. Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge and London are some of the important UK festivals designed for local residents.Los Angeles, New York, Palm Springs, Telluride, San Francisco and Montreal are a few of the many in North America.

4. Genre Film Festivals

Certain film festivals cater to specific genres. If you make a horror film you would probably make Sitges your number one choice. London has the London Sci Fi and Fright Fest. While fewer acquisition executives attend genre festivals, those that do are there because they are interested in that genre. In marketing speak, these buyers are pre-qualified.

5. Mom and Pop

At the risk of sounding patronising, mom and pop festivals are small festivals that were created simply for the enjoyment of cinema. They are usually run by one or two people. Sometimes they offer wider themes, such as the Human Rights Festival. These festivals attract local press, but very few if any industry people and virtually no studio executives attend.