Film festivals. You’ve heard of them, but you might not know much about them.
I’ve learned about them recently, as I’m in the process of submitting screenplays to various festivals for consideration in their screenwriting competitions.
The festivals are an important way for screenwriters, filmmakers and illustrators to get their projects in front of a global audience, to network with industry professionals and secure distribution deals.
And win awards. Awards are typically decided by a jury of industry professionals. Winning an award can significantly boost a filmmaker’s career, leading to wider distribution and critical recognition.
Before reading further, guess the “Big Five” film festivals. Close your eyes.
Now, open them (oh, you already did that).
Did you guess:
1) the Cannes Film Festival in France, 2) the Berlin International Film Festival, 3) the Venice Film Festival, 4) the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and 5) the Sundance in Utah?
These are globally recognized as the most prestigious and influential in the industry, shaping Oscar nominations and boosting a film’s profile.
TIFF 2023 has ended after attracting filmmakers and movie buffs from all over the globe. The 2023 festival welcomed celebs like Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Jessica Chastain, Kate Hudson, Eddie Redmayne and Canadian Seth Rogen.
Some festivals consider only films. But most, especially the well-established ones, accept screenplays. In my case, the genre is “feature film screenplay”, although I plan to modify the format to also fit the “TV series” category.
In addition to screenings, most festivals offer workshops, seminars and networking events that provide attendees with resources and opportunities to connect with other filmmakers.
The oldest festival is the Venice Film Festival, founded in 1932. Founded in 1950, the Yorkton Film Festival in Yorkton, Saskatchewan is the longest running film festival on the continent! Yes, Yorkton, which as everyone knows is northeast of Regina, northwest of Esterhazy!
With so many incredible film festivals worldwide, it’s easy to see why so many filmmakers choose to showcase their work in this way.
I’ve made seventeen submissions to date. Each has a notification date advising of the status of each submission. Some provide feedback, which is helpful.
The notification date has been reached for five of mine. My screenplay was not selected for three, but I am a finalist in one and have been selected for another.
Approaching each film festival with an open mind will help broaden my horizons and pave the way for creative experiences I couldn’t have had any other way!
Craig retired in 2015 and has been writing ever since. And boy, is his hand tired.