Screen and Film School’s Guide to Film Festivals

11th November 2021

Here at Screen and Film School we can’t get enough of Film Festivals- whether it’s getting involved with sponsoring categories, hearing about our graduate and student success, or even just being in the audience. This week our Brighton Student Blogger Akira-Kai Kitazono takes a look at some of the biggest Film Festivals in the world, and what sets them apart from the rest.

Film Festivals are huge events that celebrate new talent and ideas around the world. Some of the biggest films will premiere there and some of the biggest filmmakers originally made their mark at a film festival. If you want to work, volunteer, submit or even watch at a film festival, there are plenty of opportunities and festivals around!

Here is a list of some of the biggest film festivals, and a little bit about them.

BFI London Film Festival

The biggest film festival in the United Kingdom, running since 1957 in co-operation with the BFI, screening hundreds of films from all over the world and showcasing talent from all backgrounds. From Royal Festival Gala Premieres, to press screenings and surprise film screenings the festival also hosts a wide range of events from talks to immersive virtual reality exhibitions.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest running film festival since 1947, EIFF showcases some of the first-ever UK premieres for films. Highly regarded as a Youth lead festival, they offer many programmes and opportunities for young people to get involved.

Cannes Film Festival

Regarded as the most anticipated film festival of the whole year, Cannes is the place to go for watching the first screenings of some of the most anticipated films. It is also home to the infamous Palme d’Or awards, which is the highest award offered at the festival each year- this year Julia Ducournau’s second feature Titane (2021), took home the award. Keep an eye out for the three days in Cannes pass application to get a chance to watch all of the films for free.

TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

The Toronto International Film Festival, known as TIFF, isn’t as old as the other festivals but tends to have the largest number of attendees year-round. Located in Downtown Toronto TIFF offers screenings, lectures, discussions, festivals, workshops, events, professional development and opportunities to meet, hear and learn from filmmakers from Canada and around the world.

Sundance Film Festival

The largest independent film festival in the United States, close to Cannes in terms of high-profile premieres such as but mostly known for their hosts of daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music events. This was also the infamous festival where Reservoir Dogs premiered, and Tarantino met Samuel L. Jackson.

New York Film Festival

Just before the London film festival comes the New York Film Festival, in co-operation with the Film at Lincoln Center. Hosting many premieres and surprise appearances, New York Film Festival has a wide range of art-house films from all over the world, big and small.

Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival)

Known as Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival is famous for premiering some of the most obscure arthouse titles each year. Berlinale premiered my favourite film of the past two years, the eight-hour film The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin).

In summary, film festivals are the best place to go to network and see the latest releases. With so many surprises and sometimes being the first audience to watch a film, you never truly know what to expect. Cannes and EIFF I would highly recommend trying to attend or get involved with as, as both offer great opportunities for film students.



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