Sunday, February 24, 2008

World's Best Film Festivals

Tonight something interesting is going to happen at the Academy Awards. I can predict with 100% confidence that the Best Picture Oscar will go home with a film-festival filmmaker because all five films nominated for Best Picture were seen at the world's top film festivals. This trend started In 2005 when Crash was the first film festival acquisition (2004 Toronto Film Festival) to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Atonement debuted on opening night at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. Michael Clayton premiered at the 2007 Venice Film Festival and was later seen at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. Juno, made on a budget of only $6.5 million, was judged Best Film at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. No Country for Old Men by the Coen Brothers premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, six months before its limited commercial release in the U.S. It was also seen at the New York Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. And There Will Be Blood's director, Paul Thomas Anderson just won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Director.

Is this a good trend? I think so. We can derive so much inspiration from people all around the world who have different experiences, different views of the world, and different styles of visually expressing themselves. Is it ever a bad idea to gain a greater global understanding?

So, in order to get a jump on next year's Academy Award nominees, here are the World's Top Film Festivals, based upon popularity, quality of films, and prestige.

Cannes International Film Festival - May 14-25, 2008

Cannes is graced by some of Hollywood's A-list celebrities, and its roster of past winners includes: "Easy Rider" (1969), "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Apocalypse Now" (1979), "Pulp Fiction" (1994) and "Fargo" (1996).

Venice Film Festival - Aug 27-Sep 6, 2008

The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. It evolved out of a Venice art exhibition in the mid-1930's. Federico Fellini once said that "entering the Film Palace of the Venice Film Festival was like passing a final exam."

Berlin Film Festival - Feb 1-Mar 1, 2009

The Berlin Film Festival was founded in 1951, just six years after the end of World War II, as part of an attempt to restore Germany to its former artistic glory. The first film screened at the Festival was Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca". The Berlin Film Festival quickly gained momentum, and within a few years it rivaled Cannes and Venice as one of the premiere film festivals in the world.

There are plenty more film festivals from Anchorage to Zanzibar. Here is the A-List of international film festivals, according to the International Federation of Film Producers Association:

Mar del Plata International Film Festival- Apr 24-May 8, 2008
Shanghai International Film Festival -June 14-22, 2008
Moscow International Film Festival - June 18-27, 2008
Locarno Film Festival - Aug 6-16, 2008
Montreal Film Festival - Aug 21-Sep 1, 2008
Fresh Film Festival- Aug 27-31, 2008
Cairo Film Festival - Aug 29-Sep 1
Toronto International Film Festival - Sep 4-13, 2008
San Sebastian Film Festival - Sep 18-27, 2008
Tokyo Film Festival - October, 2008

Festivals well-known for showcasing independent films are:

Sundance Film Festival - Jan 17-27, 2008
Vail Film Festival - Apr 3-6, 2008
Sonoma Valley Film Festival - Apr 9-13, 2008
Tribeca Film Festival - Apr 23-May 4, 2008
Telluride Film Festival - Aug 29-Sep 1, 2008
New York Film Festival - Sep, 2008
Raindance Film Festival - Oct 1-12, 2008

And a few festivals close to home are:
Cinequest Film Festival - Feb 27-Mar 9, 2008
San Francisco International Film Festival - Apr 24-May 8, 2008

If you can't attend in person, then live vicariously through these blogs of the goings-on at the latest film festivals:
Film Festival Today
Short Film Review
Independent Films

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