By Traveler Confidential Staff
7 FILM FESTIVALS WORTH PLANNING YOUR TRIP AROUND
Throngs of photographers competing to get that perfect shot of A-list celebrities, stars clad in Oscar-worthy fashions while striking a pose on the red carpet, highly anticipated films debuting, and hundreds of international journalists that’s how many people see film festivals on TV and the Internet.
Yes, the vast majority of people attending film festivals are stars, filmmakers, studio executives, talent agents, and members of the media. This is mainly because the festivals are off limits to fans and the general public who don’t have accreditation to cover them. But just because you’re not officially covering a film festival doesn’t mean you can’t partake in some of the festivities. Most local establishments figuratively roll out the red carpet for not only festival attendees, but other visitors as well. So, if you like crowds from all over the world, then we’ve got just the perfect film festivals for you.
We’ve chosen the seven below because they are considered the premier film festivals in terms of attendance, star power, and the quality of the films presented.
1. Cannes Film Festival (May 11-May 22, 2016)
Cannes is the epitome of film festivals. Nearly every media outlet around the world has covered it and every major celebrity has attended it. We think it actually put Cannes, France on the map. It’s been around since 1946 and has honored hundreds of international films, filmmakers, and actors including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, George Lucas, and the list goes on and on. The invitation-only event takes place at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès on the famous street, Promenade de la Croisette. This street is literally the lifeline of the Cannes Film Festival. It’s where most of the star-packed hotels are located and it’s within walking distance of restaurants and bars that movie industry giants frequent. One of the best things to do while there is just people watch as you walk along the 1.2 mile-long Croisette when some of the major films are hosting their premieres. It’s pure pandemonium and just the kind of thing to send a film geek into overdrive. Have your smartphone or DSLR ready, because you’ll surely see actors, models, and filmmakers stepping out of their stretch limos and walking the carpet up the stairs of the Palais. Not to mention, hundreds of fans will be right there with you lining the street in anticipation. Some photographers often approach interesting looking, yet random people on this street. They want shots of intriguing people that capture the essence of Cannes outside the festival. And, don’t forget about the hotels and dining establishments, which are often filled with celebs and other festival attendees tasting award-winning provençal food and enjoying fine wine. Some of the best spots are: the InterContinental Carlton Cannes, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, and the Hotel Barriere Le Majestic. Not only are their lobbies buzzing with VIPs, but their signature restaurants inside usually have twice the amount of star power. Last year, while at Le Bar L’Amiral inside the Hôtel Martinez, we spotted a few famous faces. If you still have dreams of attending a screening while at the number one film festival in the world, check out Cannes or Bust, by Cannes Film Festival expert Michael Leahy. He’s got advice for getting those coveted tickets to screenings.
2. Venice Film Festival (August 31-September 10, 2016)
As if you needed another reason to visit Venice, this one is it. More than 22 million tourists pack the city every year, and its festival is the oldest in the world with thousands of people attending. It takes place on the Lido and is part of the Venice Biennale. It’s old, glamorous, world-renowned, and is considered to be one of the top three film festivals in the world. The good news is that the general public can check out some of the films. Each day, screenings for the public are listed on the festival’s official site. There, film lovers can also purchase tickets for the reserved movies. Good luck, because we’re sure those tickets go faster than a cheap plane ticket to a remote Caribbean island.
3. Berlin International Film Festival (February 9- 19, 2017)
Besides Cannes and Venice, the Berlin International Film Festival is a major player on the film festival circuit. Big name actors and actresses attend every February. More than 500,000 people attended in 2015 and the festival receives more than six million Euros from the German government. So the festival is quite exquisite, even though it happens in the middle of winter. But, the great thing about the Berlin Film Festival is that it is the largest publicly attended festival in the world, and anyone can attend screenings, events, and exhibitions, as noted by The Guardian. And, that may be reason enough to fly to Germany.
4. Toronto International Film Festival (September 8-18, 2016)
If you haven’t been to Toronto, Canada then wait and go during this event. The festival celebrates it’s 41st year in September. It’s considered one of the best places to promote a film and fan favorites sometimes end up being Academy Award-nominated. Its Christmas for the cinephile because tickets to all screenings and events can be bought on the official website. Aside from the screenings and events, look for lots of Hollywood elite scattered throughout town at ritzy galas and industry parties. In fact, there are so many places to spot a celeb that Toronto.com has an entire list of them.
5. Melbourne International Film Festival (July 28-August 14, 2016)
The Melbourne International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Nearly 150,000 visitors attend this 17-day festival where hundreds of films are screened from 60 countries. It happens in Australia’s winter season and in order to attend screenings you have to purchase tickets online or become a member of the film festival, which gives you access to all sessions and events, except opening and closing nights. In the past, Geoffrey Rush and Adrian Grenier have attended. It’s not the most celebrity-packed festival, but it’s worth a trip down under if you can make it.
6. Dubai International Film Festival (December 7-14, 2016)
Compared to other film festivals, the Dubai festival is the new kid on the block. It’s only been around since 2004. But, that hasn’t stopped it from pulling in some of Tinsel-town’s heavy hitters. Eva Longoria, Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise flocked to the leading film festival in the region. And, it’s been such a success that the festival established a separate entity for Arab filmmakers, the Dubai Film Market. So, if you can make it to the UAE, you’ll be happy to see tickets for every event on sale,including film premieres and red carpet galas. Buy single tickets or an entire package, which lets you attend all festival events. With such easy access, an incredible landscape, and luxurious hotels, attending the Dubai Film Festival is a no-brainer, provided you can afford the airfare and high-end hotels.
7. Sundance Film Festival(January19 -29, 2017)
This Park City, Utah festival is quintessentially indie because of the large number of independent filmmakers from around the world that attend. More than 100 small screen and big screen movies are screened over 10 days along with dozens of parties, sponsored swag suites, and social media events happening all along Main Street. Here’s the deal. Yes, you can get tickets to attend buzz worthy movies generating lots of attention. But (yes, you knew there would be a but) you have to really have a strategy for getting those in-demand, but low supply tickets, according to author Ellen Freudenheim. She wrote one of the best stories around about how to get your hands on those coveted Sundance film tickets. Her list might just give you a greater chance of attending at least one screening while in town.