Our Top 10 Picks
With the beloved Sundance Film Festival starting Jan. 19 and the Oscars not too far off, the film buffs here at Cheapflights have ranked their favorite film festivals across the globe. A one-of-a-kind experience, film festivals offer the opportunity to explore the art of filmmaking with other enthusiasts, listen to the creators talk about their work, visit an exciting destination and so much more. Find out what makes each festival unique with our list of the top film festivals around the world.
Sundance Film Festival – Park City, Utah, United States
Sundance Film Festival started out in 1978 as an event designed to attract more filmmakers to Utah while staying away from the overpowering Hollywood scene. Thirty-four years later, Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States, exhibiting feature-length films, documentaries, shorts, and animation while fostering dialogues among film enthusiasts. This year, the festival will run from Jan 19-29 in Park City, Utah, showcasing 200 films whittled down from nearly 9,000 submissions. Can’t make it to the big event? On Jan 26, nine movie theaters across the United States will be hosting a filmmaker and his or her work as part of Sundance Film Festival USA, so you may be able to participate in the festivities wherever you are.
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International Film Festival Rotterdam – Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Though it receives less tourist traffic than its neighboring city, Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a modern representation of Dutch culture, and its annual film festival is constantly paving the way for all genres of innovative and thought-provoking cinema. This year’s event will run from Jan 25 to Feb 5, and will encompass 19 screening venues – upwards of 350,000 viewers are expected to attend. Rotterdam attendees are passionate movie-goers, so program directors make a point of stripping down the superfluous aspects of film, like commercials and trailers, for an untarnished viewing experience.
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Cannes International Film Festival – Cannes, France
The highly esteemed Cannes Film Festival sets the trend for up-and-coming cinema every year while boosting the film industry’s caliber worldwide. As one of the most prominent film events recognized internationally, Cannes is the place for big names in cinema to show their latest work. Set along the pristine beaches of the French Riviera, warm temperatures and bright sunshine only add to the exciting atmosphere of the event. This year’s star-studded festival will run from May 16-27. Attending the festival is by invitation only, but we suggest heading to the Tourist Office and getting passes to the Beach Cinema for free nightly screenings.
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Guadalajara Film Festival – Guadalajara, Mexico
Considered the most significant film affair in Latin America, Guadalajara Film Festival is an important cultural event, showcasing Mexican and Latino talent alongside other international works of cinematic art. Thanks to Guadalajara Film Festival, Latin American film has become a competitor in the global film industry. From March 2-12, over 100,000 film lovers are expected to flood the streets and theaters of Guadalajara, viewing close to 200 films. While not as chaotic as Mexico City, Guadalajara is a destination perfect for exploring colonial history, enjoying the Mexican culture, shopping street markets and savoring traditional regional cuisine.
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Rooftop Films – New York, New York, United States
New York City is known for filmmaking, and great festivals like The New York Film Festival and Tribeca are constantly at the forefront when it comes to showcasing the talent of filmmakers from around the world. But veer slightly off the beaten path to the skyline of the Big Apple, and check out our favorite New York festival known as Rooftop Films. What started out in 1997 as film screenings on the roof of a newly graduated film student’s apartment has now expanded across Manhattan and Brooklyn. The festival runs on weekends from May to September.
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Toronto International Film Festival – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Toronto International Film Festival, which premiered in 1976 as an independent film festival, has grown to become one of the most important and influential festivals in North America, and is the leading public film festival in the world. Year after year, works from the Toronto festival have gone on to become Academy Award winners. This exciting and extensive festival takes place in the beginning of September (this year from Sept 6 to 16), and close to 350,000 attendees head to Canada’s largest metropolis in the hopes of viewing what will be the next classic piece of cinematic art. Aside from putting Canada on the map as a competitor in the global film industry, Toronto’s festival has become a launching pad for the success of new films released every fall.
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Venice International Film Festival – Venice, Italy
The Venice Film Festival started in 1932, making it the oldest film festival in the world. Every year, this expansive event is held on the island of Lido in the fascinating city of Venice. Unlike similarly large film festivals such as Cannes, public attendees are able to purchase passes in advance to the screenings. This year’s festival will run from Aug 29 until Sept 8 and screen more than 275 projects, 75 of which will be national and international premieres. And, if the film scene isn’t enticing enough, Venice ranks high among travelers as a destination, encompassing history, culture and romantic charm.
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Hong Kong International Film Festival – Hong Kong, China
The perfect blend of East Asian culture and a thriving global market, Hong Kong is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. It’s no wonder that the Hong Kong International Film Festival has become one of the largest in the world, and has bridged the gap between Asian cinema and the global film industry. This year’s event will take place from March 21 to April 5, showcasing more than 330 titles from 50 countries to an expected 600,000 viewers. Spread among more than 11 venues all around Hong Kong, including the Space Museum and City Hall, visitors get the chance to witness the latest works while exploring the vibrant city.
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Berlin International Film Festival- Berlin, Germany
One of the most renowned film festivals in the world, the Berlin International Film Festival (also known as Berlinale) combines the glamor of filmmaking – parties, red carpet, high fashion – with the appreciation of cinematic art in a variety of genres. Divided into 10 separate sections, highlighting areas like experimental and avant-garde works, shorts geared towards younger generations, films focused around culinary themes and several others, there’s a place for all film admirers at Berlinale. This year’s festival will kick off on Feb 9 and last 10 days. It is expected that visitors from more than 115 countries will be in attendance to screen and discuss a variety of international films.
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East End Film Festival – East London, United Kingdom
As one of the largest film festivals in London, East End continues to grow in the industry as a high-profile event for filmmakers. In 2011, more than 60 feature films were screened, along with hundreds of shorts, all from more than 30 different countries. Submissions are based around several themes, the most popular being British, European and World films, horror and music. This coming July 3-8, coinciding with the Olympics, dozens of venues will open in East London to screen the latest works – many free – from both seasoned and up-and-coming film professionals. Plus, there will be plenty of live music, master classes and other special events to participate in.
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(Featured image: Khánh Hmoong)