What Are The Biggest Film Festivals? | Project Casting (2023)

Here are the world's biggest film festivals.

Film Festivals are known for bringing success, cult classics, and indie projects to the forefront. But it begs the question, what is a film festival and what is the biggest film festival?

What is a film festival?

  • A film festival is an organized presentation of films in one or multiple cinemas, theaters or screening venues. Organizers set up film festivals in one city.
  • Film festivals can be new movies, old movies, or of a particular genre of film. It would depend on the film festival's focus and can include international and domestic productions. Some film festivals can focus on a specific filmmaker, genre, narrative, or type.
  • For example, there is a growing number of horror film festivals for horror enthusiasts. Typically, film festivals are held once per year.

What is the biggest film festival?

  • Arguably there is not a single major film festival but, the most prestigious film festivals include Cannes, Berlin, and Venice film festival. These festivals are sometimes called "The Big Three."
  • Meanwhile, the Toronto International Film Festival is North America's most attended film festival. Time Magzine wrote the Toronto International Film Festival "had grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period." The Venice Film Festival is the oldest in the world.

Here are the world's biggest film festivals

  • Venice Film Festival

What Are The Biggest Film Festivals? | Project Casting (1) Lady Gaga attends 'A Star Is Born' photocall during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 31, 2018, in Venice, Italy.The Venice Film Festival is the oldest in the world and one of the "Big Three" film festivals next to the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. These three film festivals are known around the world and give aspiring filmmakers a chance to showcase their work.Founded in 1932, the Venice Film Festival coverages a wide range of arts, including art, architecture, dance, music, and theater. Today organizes split the film festival into different events including the International Art Exhibition; the International Festival of Contemporary Music; the International Theatre Festival; the International Architecture Exhibition; the International Festival of Contemporary Dance; the International Kids' Carnival; and the annual Venice Film Festival, which is arguably the best-known of all the events.The film festival is held every year in late August or early Septemeber. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi.Most recently, Roma by Alfonso Cuarón won the Golden Lion and became the first-ever movie produced by Netflix to be awarded in a major film festival.

  • Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY, UT - JAN 21: Actor Jaden Smith attends the premiere of "Skate Kitchen" during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Eccles Theater on January 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com)The Sundance Film Festival is part of the Sundance Institute and takes place in Park City, Utah. The film festival has over 40,000 attendees every year and is the largest indie film festival in the United States. The festival is a showcase for new work from US and international indie filmmakers. The film festival also has a competitive section for dramas, documentaries, feature films, short films, and out-of-competition screenings including, NEXT, New Frontier, Spotlight, Midnight, Premieres, and Documentary Premieres. Sundance film festival takes place in January.The2019 Sundance Film Festival began on January 24 and went on February 3. The 2020 event will take place from January 23 to February 2, 2020.Many famous self-sufficient filmmakers received their big break at Sundance, including Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Todd Field, David O. Russell, Steve James, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky, James Wan, Edward Burns, and Jim Jarmusch.The festival is also accountable for bringing broader awareness to such movies as Saw,Garden State,Super Troopers,The Blair Witch Project,Spanking the Monkey,Reservoir Dogs,Primer,In the Bedroom,Better Luck Tomorrow,Little Miss Sunshine,Donnie Darko,El Mariachi,Moon,Clerks,Thank You for Smoking,Sex, Lies, and Videotape,The Brothers McMullen,(500) Days of Summer,Napoleon Dynamite,Whiplash,Boyhood,andGet Out.

  • Cannes Film Festival

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Kendall Jenner attends the '120 Beats Per Minute' premiere during the 70th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2017, in Cannes, France. (Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)Cannes Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France. The film festival premieres all different genres including, documentaries and dramas from around the world. The invitation-only film festival is held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

  • Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

Actress Kristen Stewart attends the 'Equals' premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 13, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. (BAKOUNINE / Shutterstock.com)The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, with over 400,000 people attending every year. Since 1976, TIFF has grown to become a significant destination for aspiring filmmakers, content creators, distributors, and production companies. In 2016, nearly 400 films from 73 different countries were screened at TIFF, and 5,00 industry professionals attended the film festival.The festival's People's Choice Award is one of the most coveted awards for filmmakers. It has become an early indicated of a movie's success during awards season, especially the Academy Awards. For example, past winners of this award include Oscar-winning films such as Life Is Beautiful, American Beauty, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, 12 Years a Slave, The Imitation Game, Room, La La Land, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

  • Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival)

Idris Elba poses at the 'Yardie' photocall during the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 22, 2018, in Berlin, Germany. (Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com)The Berlinale, also known as the Berlin International Film Festival, is a film festival held every year in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin Film Festival was founded in 1951; the celebration has been held every year since 1978.With over 300,000 tickets sold every year, it has the most significant public attendance at an annual film festival. Up to 400 films are shown across multiple genres. Around 20 films compete for the Berlinale's top award, the Golden Bear.One of the biggest attractions during the Berlin International Film Festival is the European Film Market. The European Film Market is an event that is held at the same time as the Berlinale and is known for being an important industry meeting for international films. The event serves as a place for distributors, film buyers, producers, financiers, a co-production company to find the next movie, star, or filmmaker. The Berlinale Talents also includes a series of lectures and workshops.More than 4,200 journalists attend the event, and some high-profile productions, A-list movie stars, and celebrities visit the exhibition.

  • Hong Kong International Film Festival

Hong Kong International Film Festival is one of Asia's oldest international film festivals. The Hong Kong Film Festival was started in 1976 and included screenings of different movie genres from a wide array of filmmakers from different countries in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong International Film Festival screens around 230 movies. New films are featured as premieres with directors and the cast in attendance on the red carpet along with personal meetings in theaters. Since 2017, the Hong Kong International Film Festival collaborates with Heyi Pictures to produce two films a year by aspiring Chinese filmmakers who will hold their premiere at the event.

  • Panafrican Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou

The Panafrican Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou is a film festival in Burkina, Faso. Panafrican Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou is held every two years; the film festival only accepts films by African filmmakers that were mostly produced in Africa. The film festival gives filmmakers a chance to network, exchange ideas, and promote their work. The film festival's stated mission is to "contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as a means of expression, education, and awareness-raising."

  • Rotterdam Film Festival

The Rotterdam Film Festival is an annual film festival held in various theaters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, towards the end of January. Since 1972, it has become one of the biggest film festivals in the world by focusing on indie and experimental filmmaking by aspiring talents and filmmakers. The festival also has a focus on presenting new-age media and art. The Rotterdam Film Festival also hosts CineMart, which is for film producers looking for funding for their next production.The festival is described as having "a serious commitment to film lovers and filmmaking - screenings are shown without 'popcorn breaks,' trailers, or other commercials. This sense of purpose plays a crucial role in attracting the best directors to the event, allowing it to forge a reputation for diversity, discovery, and innovation."


What Are The Biggest Film Festivals? | Project Casting? ›

Arguably there is not a single major film festival but, the most prestigious film festivals include Cannes, Berlin, and Venice film festival. These festivals are sometimes called "The Big Three." Meanwhile, the Toronto International Film Festival is North America's most attended film festival.

Where are the 3 biggest film festivals? ›

The "Big Five" film festivals are considered to be Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and Sundance. In North America, the Toronto International Film Festival is the most popular festival. Time wrote it had "grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period".

What is the acceptance rate for film festivals? ›

If your short film is solid, realistically expect between a 5-10% acceptance rate. If you submit to 50 festivals, you are likely to get accepted into at least 5 festivals, so try to cast as wide a net as possible.

How many festivals should you submit to? ›

Consider submitting your film to as many festivals as possible to increase your chances of getting accepted. Instead of spending your entire $1000 marketing budget for one prestigious film festival, divide it into a couple of high submission fees and a larger number of smaller fees submissions.

How many festivals should I submit my short film to? ›

At number two: you should be submitting your films to as many festivals as possible for exposure. Doing this gets as many eyes on your film as possible, and that's one of the best things you can do.

What is the largest film festival in the US? ›

The world recognizes Sundance as the absolute best, and largest independent film festival in America for it prioritizes indie films. Another thing that makes Sundance the talk of the town is how many industry trends stem from it, for it is among the most inspirational places for film buffs.

What is the world's largest film festival? ›

Cannes Film Festival

It is also the biggest and most well-known film festivals in the world. Every year thousands of international films are submitted, but only 50 features and 30 short films are screened in the competition.

Is film a hard industry to get into? ›

When you decide to go after a career in the film industry, you must understand that the film industry is difficult to break into, take very few new people, and is incredibly competitive. It is due to this competition in fact that executives only hire people they know.

Is it hard to get into Sundance Film Festival? ›

The team watches every single submission, before allowing less than one percent of those submitted into theaters. Worried about whether it's the right time in your career to submit, or whether your film is 'Sundance-ready'? Don't be. “Once you submit a film to Sundance, you get into our system.

Do you win money in film festivals? ›

At festivals, directors pitch producers on their films, producers sell those films to distributors and distributors sell the lucky films to cinema chains. In addition to getting a distribution deal on their festival film or a deal on a new film, filmmakers stand to make money from a festival if they win a prize.

Is 25 too old for festivals? ›

There Is No Such Thing As "Too Old For Festivals" There's this weird thing that happens after you turn 25: For the first time in your young life, you start to realize that you will age out of things.

How do you get selected for a film festival? ›

After talking with Drea, it turns out your own selection process has a strategy unto itself.
  1. Save your premiere. ...
  2. The more festivals, the better. ...
  3. Know your festivals. ...
  4. Attend events you want to submit to. ...
  5. Highlight personal threads. ...
  6. Give your film a hook. ...
  7. Seek out connections. ...
  8. Give your film the time it needs.

Do film festivals watch every submission? ›

Most films do not get screened in entirety… some are dumped in a minute or two. Think of it like America's Got Talent. The judges at most festivals should see all films once.

Which film festivals are worth it? ›

15 Most Popular Film Festivals Worth Attending and Submitting To
  • 15 Cannes Film Festival.
  • 14 Toronto International Film Festival.
  • 13 Berlin International Film Festival.
  • 12 Venice Film Festival.
  • 11 Warsaw Film Festival.
  • 10 Sundance Film Festival.
  • 9 Tribeca Festival.
  • 8 The Hong Kong International Film Festival.
May 5, 2023

What is the average film festival fee? ›

The majority of film festivals do charge for submissions (an average of $27 for short films and $40 for feature films), but this isn't their main source of income.

Can anyone submit a film to Sundance? ›

No, we encourage artists of all ages to submit their work. However, we do not have any separate submission categories or Festival programs that specifically showcase the work of student filmmakers. All officially-submitted projects compete against each other for available slots within each of our Festival programs.

Which city is famous for the film festival? ›

Cannes in France, the city famous for the Film festival and Croisette.

What city has the world famous cinema festival in the United States? ›

Sundance Film Festival, independent-film festival held in Park City, Utah, each January. It is one of the most respected and celebrated film festivals in the United States.

What are the most prestigious film festivals referred to as the Big Three and comprise of? ›

The Big Three. Thousands of film festivals take place every year, each doing its part to showcase a variety of stories from around the globe, but only a few command the entire world's attention. Most popular of all are the festivals held in Venice, Cannes, and Berlin, collectively known as the Big Three.

Is Sundance the largest independent cinema festival in the United States? ›

The Sundance Film Festival, often simply referred to as the Sundance Film Festival or the Sundance Film Festival is an annual independent film festival held every January in Park City, Utah, United States. It is the largest independent film festival in the United States.

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