7 of the Best Film Festivals in the World to Attend

The TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. Image courtesy tiff.net.

We love a good movie. Be it an indie flick, blockbuster or foreign film, we’re game. True film fans who are dying to get the first glimpse of features before they hit a theatre near you, should definitely consider attending a film festival. Besides the excitement of the movie’s themselves, it’s a great opportunity to explore a city that’s buzzing with the influx of celebrities. Not sure where to start? We pick 8 film fests around the globe you should considering attending.

1. Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Where: Toronto, Canada
Why: The Toronto International Film Festival, is an 11-day festival that happens every September and draws not only plenty of international press, but also an A-list roster that rivals any awards show red carpet. The festival screens more than 300 films from more than 60 countries, showing everything from documentaries and shorts to features. Films that have premiered at the festival include favourites like Black Swan, Ray, 127 Hours and The King’s Speech. The hardest part about attending this festival is deciding what movies to see! Your best bet is to purchase a 10-ticket package, which runs for about $160 versus spending up to $20 for a regular screening and if you can, see movies during the day, as the shows aren’t as rammed.
When: September 6 – 16, 2012
Website: tiff.net

Kristin Wigg at SXSW on the red carpet for Bridesmaids. Image courtesy Mary Sledd.

2. South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)
Where: Austin, Texas
Why: SXSW originally began as a music conference and festival, but expanded into film and interactive events in 1994. The film portion of this festival runs for 9 days and screens a variety of films from features to docs and narratives. They’re big on emerging talent, but also are throwing some Hollywood in for good measure too. This year the festival is showing 130 films including their headliner 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Past notable films that have showed here include Academy Award winning flicks The Hurt Locker and Undefeated. Film badges may be purchased ahead of time or at the door and range from $395 all the way up to $1,395. Alternatively you can also purchase a single ticket at the door, but it’s on a first-come first-serve basis and priority is given to those with badges.
When: March 9 – 17, 2012
Website: sxsw.com

The Egyptian Theatre in Park City. Image courtesy Jill Orschel.

3. Sundance Film Festival
Where: Park City, Utah
Why: The biggest independent film fest in the U.S., Sundance has been a platform for emerging filmmakers since it started in 1978 and has featured films like A Streetcar Named Desire, Midnight Cowboy, Little Miss Sunshine and Napoleon Dynamite. Happening every January, this 11-day festival shows more than just feature-length films including shorts, animation and out-of competition sections like New Frontier and Park City at Midnight. Serious movie-goers should opt for the Festival Pass for priority access, while the Ticket Packages are great if you want to pre-plan some flicks beforehand. And there’s always individual tickets priced at $15.
When: January 19 – 29, 2012
Website: sundance.org

4. Raindance Film Festival
Where: London, England
Why: A UK film festival promoting independent films both nationally and internationally, here you’ll find everything from features to docs and shorts. Operating also as a film school operating out of cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Brussels, it has premiered flicks like The Blair Witch Project and Memento. Plus it also has also had notable jury members including Judy Dench, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Since this festival isn’t as big as others, all of the screenings are held in one theatre (last year it was at the Apollo Cinema). A festival pass is your best bet for £149 and gives you access to every screening (minus opening and closing night).
When: September 28 – October 7, 2012
Website: raindance.co.uk

Diane Kruger on the red carpet at the Berlin International Film Festival.

5. Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)
Where: Berlin, Germany
Why: Considered one of the world’s largest publicly attended film festival, here you’ll be able to select from up to 400 different films from features to shorts, children’s films and even culinary cinema. Every February this 11-day festival brings in plenty of high-profile actors, directors and celebrities too, like Angelina Jolie, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Blake Lively, Robert Pattinson and Diane Kruger. Ticket prices range from 7 – 11 Euros and must be purchased in cash at the box office or ticket counter. Alternatively you can buy online with a credit card. The heart of the festival takes place at Potsdamer Platz, where you’ll find everything from the theatres to the red carpets and if you’re lucky some celebrity spotting.
When: February 9 – 19, 2012
Website: berlinale.de/en

6. Whistler Film Festival
Where: Whistler, Canada
Why: Established in 2001, the Whistler International Film Festival has been building buzz lately thanks to its location (close to L.A.) and timing (just before awards season). This boutique festival shows films including features, world docs, and student shortwork. You’ll find more than enough films to choose from (2011 had 77 flicks). Films that have garnered buzz here include last year’s Young Adult, The Whistlerblower, and Monsieur Lahzar. Hardcore movie goers should opt for the Festival Pass to get priority access to screenings and special events, while Ticket Packages are ideal for selecting a handful of films beforehand. Individual tickets are $15 each, and you can save a few if you opt to attend at matinee for $12 each. And since this location is literally minutes from the slopes, you might as well plan to catch a few runs in between shows.
When: November 28 – December 2, 2012
Website: whistlerfilmfestival.com

7. Venice International Film Festival
Where: Venice, Italy
Why: Why not head to the city of gondolas and attend the oldest international film festival in the world? It’s always a star-studded affair and there are no short of great films to watch. There are five main categories in which films are divided into including Veneziathe, which features 20 world premieres of feature films, Orizzontia which highlights new trends in cinema and Corto Cortissimoth, which is world premiere of selected short films. Film that have premiered at this festival include Somewhere, The Wrestler and Brokeback Mountain. Tickets are available at two screening venues: Sala Grande and PalaBiennale. Note you must be 18 years or older to attend. Plan to line up early, as tickets go fast.
When: August 29 – September 29, 2012
Website: labiennale.org/en/cinema