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Film Festivals: Growing Exponentially Around the World


By Arindam Bhunia
Image (above), Honk Kong International Film Festival

Hello friends, hope you are enjoying Filmonomics. We always try to give you the economical scenario of current talking points. Now a days we, the film lovers not only rush to the theatres to watch the movies but also getting interest to attain the film festivals as well. Film festivals are extended presentation of films in or more cinemas or venues as they are entertaining people by showing different taste of films for divergent audiences and not only that, through these festivals the common people can interact with the biggest film stars along the world. These days it seems like film festivals are a dime a dozen. From the glitzy red carpet of the Cannes festival to the casual vibe at Sundance, film festivals are a chance to premiere new films, generate buzz and get distribution deals. Then? I hope you got it; yes, in this edition of cult critic we will discuss about the growing business of film festivals throughout the world.

Film festivals have become an increasingly popular method of generating economic benefit to communities, yet there is little mention of this festival segment in the academic literature. Seen as a meeting place between filmmakers, distributors, and viewers, film festivals can be an important factor in enlivening local cultural life, building a town, city, or region’s image, and fostering its attractiveness for tourism and thus its economic development.

Film festivals alone have given many films a platform to make themselves appear to the world audience, which they otherwise would not have been able to do it on their own. Let’s take a look at the 10 most prestigious film festivals around the world.


The Cannes Festival, named until 2002 as the International Film Festival (Festival international du film) and known in English as the Cannes Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France. The festival previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from around the world. Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.



The Berlin International Film Festival, also called the Berlinale, is one of the world’s leading film festivals and most reputable media events. It is held annually in Berlin, Germany. Founded in West Berlin in 1951, the festival has been celebrated annually in February since 1978. With around 300,000 tickets sold and 500,000 admissions it is considered the largest publicly attended film festival worldwide based on actual attendance rates.


Founded in 1976, the Hong Kong International Film Festival is Asia’s oldest international film festival and a pioneer in introducing Hong Kong, Chinese language and Asian cinema and filmmakers to the world.


The Venice Film Festival or Venice International Film Festival founded in 1932, is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the “Big Three” film festivals alongside the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival.


The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, attracting over 480,000 people annually.


The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the Sundance Institute, is an American film festival that takes place annually in Utah. With 46,732 attendees in 2012, it is the largest independent film festival in the United States.



Big Cinema Event in Rotterdam attracts film lovers from around the world from movie experts and critics, to passionate movie fanatics, everybody goes to Rotterdam for premiere screening of newest movies. Average of 350,000 viewers attend the event.


Raindance is an independent film festival and film school that operates throughout major cities including: London, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Berlin and Brussels.



The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is an annual film festival held over three weeks in Melbourne, Australia. It was founded in 1952 and is one of the oldest film festivals in the world.



The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is the leading film festival in the region. Since its inception in 2004, the festival has served as an influential platform for Arab filmmakers and talent at an international level.

To compete in these festivals filmmakers and producers first have to submit their films through various submission platforms or they can submit directly also. The idea behind these submission platforms is to replace the outdated and expensive method of sending films by mail. This was, and still is, a very lucrative business! This is why many filmmakers and entrepreneurs around the world have sought to find a digital alternative to it. Here below are a few popular ones:

Canada: Festivals in data base: 11000

Young Canadian company was founded in 2014.  Its’ creators have taken into account all the critical reviews from filmmakers (especially going for Withoutabox) and made a remarkable alternative — free, easy to use and convenient service. In three months after setting up more than 600 festivals registered in the base, more than 5000 applications were sent. Now it is the fastest growing service for online submissions films to the festivals. This platform is remarkable for variety of festivals, that accept films of any length and genre.




Germany: Festivals in the database: 170

German online-service, 170 short film festivals, mostly European. You pay for sending film for the festival (first submission is free, every additional costs 2 euro; sending of the application and online-copy is included). The project gives you convenient system for uploading, keeping and playing the video White Label VoD (video on request). With its help the festivals can show the films in stream regime from their site, save them into their online-libraries and so on.


Spain: Festivals in the database: 1200

The project of famous Spanish distributor company Promofest. On the platform there are more than 500 short film festivals. Many European, Spanish and Latin American festivals. You can choose from two interfaces: English or Spanish. Fees vary from 1 – 3 euros. If your film is selected, the service returns the sum you’ve paid.


Spain: Festivals in the database: 1800

Spanish company that was founded in 2010 by two expert filmmakers. Now this service represents more than 1800 festivals (both short and feature). Here one can find a lot of Spanish projects, festivals from Latin American countries. Each application costs 2 euro.


Germany: Festivals in the database: 1100

A company which seems to be a professional social network for by its structure for film industry workers: filmmakers, festivals, distributors and so on. Most filmmakers who have spent time entering their film(s) into numerous festivals will at some point come to the conclusion that film festivals are money-making machines, gouging filmmakers for profit. But this isn’t supported by the numbers.  So where does their funding come from? The short answer to the economics of film festivals is: from many different places.69% of festivals receive at least three forms of funding and only 14% receive all of their money from a single income stream. The majority of film festivals do charge for submissions (an average of $27 for short films and $40 for feature films), but this isn’t their main source of income. Filmmaker submission fees make up less than 15% of the total income of film festivals.


The Withoutabox website offers filmmakers a platform to search over 3000 film festivals on five continents and to submit their films to over 850 film festivals worldwide, including festivals such as Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival. By contrast, FilmFreeway have 5443 festivals enlisted under it, just over six times more. The data given bellow is up to December, 2016.



Film festivals have become major contributors to a number of local economies. Increasingly cities across the US and abroad are planning film festivals as a tourist draw and economic driver. Recognized by business, community, and government agencies as a means of promoting tourism and enhancing an area’s cultural and economic well-being, there is need to assess their impact and develop strategies to ensure their success. It is estimated there are about 1,900 film festivals held annually worldwide and the number is rapidly increasing.


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