For much of the world, instead of awards shows, it’s film festivals that bring out the stars and great new films.
This is short list of film festivals around the world that are worth going to:
Bahamas International Film Festival – Forget the red carpet. Wouldn’t you rather have sugar-white beaches? There is no greater place to see amazing films than the Bahamas. Think about it: Does anyone really go to Cannes the rest of the year? This festival, held in the winter, is the perfect grown-up getaway. Films at night, beaches during the day, and rum all day long. Don’t tell the boss that we are actually having fun.
Oldenburg International Film Festival – This is ancient German city that hosts one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. Each year, they screen some of the most interesting, innovative, and influential films being made. Known as the “Sundance of Germany”, it’s actually a bit edgier. In the heart of Europe, they show avant-garde and experimental films alongside major international premieres. Oh, and the local correctional facility is one of the viewing venues and parties take place all over including in bank vaults and train stations.
The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou – Held in Burkina Faso every two years, this is Africa’s largest film festival. It features works by African artists and African subjects. More than simply a viewing event, it’s an important networking event for African filmmakers. It was founded in 1969 and has continued strong ever since. The awards represent among the highest achievements possible for African filmmakers by the African film industry.
Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards – Held in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan), this a major film event for Chinese filmmakers. The event was founded in 1962 by the government of the Republic of China (ROC) to acknowledge and reward Chinese filmmakers and all of the other people who contribute to making great film. Originally restricted to Taiwanese films, in 1996, mainland Chinese films were included. Since then, both nations have been well-represented by the amazing work of filmmakers.
Image Forum Festival – Held in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Yokohama, Japan, this is the largest Japanese film festival dedicated to experimental film. It features domestic and foreign films as well as historical masterworks as a reminder of where Japanese film came from. Started in 1987, this festival has continued to show some of the most ground-breaking films in the world.
Edinburgh International Film Festival – Back in 1947, Edinburgh, Scotland, became home to one of the most influential film festivals. It continues to showcase many of the world’s largest and most important films, as well as bringing to light smaller films and less known artists. This is an all-premiere festival, making it a wonderful place to see films that no one else has seen. Showing over 150 films over the course of about two weeks, the festival is very often the home of about a dozen world-premieres.
Take 21 – Formerly the Toronto Student Film Festival, Take 21 highlights, what else?, the films of students. Because of the filmmakers involved, prizes are often equipment, opportunities in the film industry, and money. In spite of the inexperience of the filmmakers (or perhaps because of it), Take 21 is a fantastic place to see cutting edge filmmaking by people who have not yet lost their youthful passions and sight.
Gramado Film Festival – Dedicated to Brazilian and Latin film, this festival has run in the Brazilian city of Gramado since 1973. It is Brazil’s largest film festival, bringing in films and filmmakers from throughout Brazil and South and Central America. With awards in 24 categories, this festival is not unlike the Oscars in grandeur and importance for the Latin and Brazilian film industries.
Moscow International Film Festival – Russia’s largest city hosts one of the largest film festivals in Asia. Every year, the festival shows some of the world’s most important films and brings to light some of Russia’s great filmmakers. Many of the films that have been shown at this festival over the years have either done well in their own right or have been remade, bringing Russian life and Russian visions to the world.
These are only nine of the thousands of festivals that take place around the world. What are your favorite film festivals outside of the US? What makes them unique?