Festival Planner 2010
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Slamdance Film Festival
The success of 2008 Slamdance pickup "Paranormal Activity" should bring more buyers to Sundance's unruly little brother, which more and more resembles its nameske. Case in point: check out the world premiere of Steven Soderbergh's Spalding Gray doc "And Everything Is Going Fine."
Rotterdam International Film Festival
Jan. 27-Feb. 7
Squeezed between Sundance and Berlin, Rotterdam has made strides in its quest for relevance to the industry. And it remains a cineaste's delight. The Dutch fest continues to discover new talent while refusing to court Hollywood and its glamour machine.
Goteborg International Film Festival
Jan. 29-Feb. 8
The one-stop shop for Scandinavian cinema, Goteborg features screenings of every new film from the region. And its Nordic Film Market offers sneak peeks at works-in-progress for the hungriest of buyers.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
SBIFF is known for executive director Roger Durling's ability to book big names looking to boost their Oscar chances. Last year, the number of honorees was no less than 26, and this year's lineup includes likely nominees James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow and Sandra Bullock. Less hyped is its diverse
Berlin International Film Festival
Once a dusty Cold War relic, the Berlinale has become the No. 2 festival on the world stage under the steady leadership of Dieter Kosslick. Berlin's competition lineup is second only to Cannes (and in some years Venice) for world premieres and cinematic cachet. This year is no different, with Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" and Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" on tap. Its European Film Market arguably has rivaled Cannes for European presales. The best-run and most efficient of the big fests, as well as one of the most affordable, Berlin's only major drawback is the German winter. It will make you long for Cannes beaches and Venetian gondolas.
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SXSW Film Conference and Festival
Once an afterthought to the influential music festival, SXSW has carved a niche with edgy yet accessible fanboy fare. That's why studios took "Observe and Report" and "I Love You, Man" to Austin last year, and why Lionsgate secured an opening-night slot for Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass" for March.
Guadalajara International Film Festival
The international launch pad for such Mexican talent as Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Diego Luna, Guadalajara is the premiere showcase for the region's cinema. The Iberoamerican competition lineup, along with opportunities for co-production meetings and an active sales market, has opened the door to the Central American industry.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
March 21-April 6
Asian specialists use Hong Kong's Filmart as a regional primer ahead of the Festival de Cannes, as well as a hub for networking with local buyers. The festival, which this year will be shortened to a more manageable 17 days (from 23), also features the Asian Film Awards and the Asian Film Financing Forum.
Ann Arbor Film Festival
The second-oldest film fest in the nation (behind San Francisco), Ann Arbor's specialty is independent films with an experimental bent. Over the years, it has showcased the works of Gus Van Sant, Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono.
Sarasota Film Festival
Things are looking up for the 12th edition of the Florida fest, which appeared to be on shaky ground in 2009 when board president Mark Famiglio was forced to slash the operating budget by two-thirds. But last year's event -- featuring tributes to Jon Voight and the late director Hal Ashby, hosted by Stanley Tucci -- not only wound up in the black, it also erased 75%-80% of a preexisting $300,000 debt.
Nyon Visions du Reel
Switzerland's documentary festival has actively courted the industry by introducing a market, Doc Outlook. And with its Doc Alliance initiative -- which streams titles on an online portal -- Nyon remains on the cutting edge of new distribution models.
Tribeca Film Festival
April 21-May 2
Debuting in 2002, Tribeca grew quickly -- some say too quickly -- to become a top market. But last year it self-corrected (aided by the economic downturn), reducing the number of features by 40% to 85. The consensus is that the fest, heading into its first incarnation planned by former Sundance executive director Geoffrey Gilmore, is now more focused.
San Francisco International Film Festival
April 22-May 6
The oldest continuously running film festival in the Americas (est.1957) got a shot in the arm last year when Rachel Rosen returned as director of programming following an eight-year stint with LAFF. Its lineup, which typically boasts 150 films from around the globe, tends to be heavy on foreign-language fare. Bay Area audiences eat it up, to the tune of 80,000 admissions annually.
Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival
April 29-May 9
Toronto-based Hot Docs is North America's top documentary fest. And the Documentary Forum, where filmmakers pitch projects to commissioning editors from around the world, is a must for anyone in the nonfiction business.
The gold standard. Just take a look at Cannes president Gilles Jacob’s Competition lineup each spring and you’ll know which films will be featured on the year’s best-of lists. The splashy premieres tend to draw worldwide headlines, but industryites know Cannes is the place to secure film financing, woo talent, presell it, build buzz — and then finally launch it to the world’s media. Cannes also has the meanest security guards, the most expensive drinks and the highest stress-per-minute of any festival. But a sales company skipping the Marche du Film is like a toy store taking off Christmas. Cannes’ market remains the only place where you’re guaranteed to find all the players — big, small, domestic, international, art house, mainstream and niche — in one crowded, crazy place. Love it and hate it. Just don’t miss it.
Seattle International Film Festival
May 20-June 13
Due in part to its overlap with Cannes, Seattle has always been considered more of an audience festival than an industry one. But oh what an audience! The 25-day event draws as many as 140,000 to view a lineup that typically features more than 550 screenings, making it the largest film festival in the U.S.
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Sydney Film Festival
Coming right after Cannes has been a mixed blessing for the Aussie cinema showcase. Sydney has kept it fresh with a competition section, added in 2008, and some new ideas, like combining the festival with a conference on virtual gaming, bringing together documentary directors with leading game designers.
International Animated Film Festival
The world's leading animation festival turns 50 this year. It's a family-friendly affair, in particular its all-ages evening screenings by the lake. Stress-free organization, gratis accreditation and the best new animated films from around the world help explain the Annecy, France-based fest's longevity.
Shanghai International Film Festival
Shanghai's co-production and pitching events have lent international heft to what is mainland China's largest festival. With the majors throwing their support behind it, Shanghai continues to gain importance as a gateway to the Asian market.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
The longest continually running film festival bar none, Edinburgh (64 this year) retains a strong indie pedigree and remains a favorite for art-house directors looking for a U.K. launch pad.
It’s been a time of transition for LAFF. In November 2008, longtime director Richard Raddon resigned amid controversy. His replacement, film producer and onetime Sundance programmer Rebecca Yeldham, was hired just three months before the next edition of the fest. She kept LAFF relevant by interspersing edgy indies with a few headline-grabbing Hollywood premieres (like last year’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Public Enemies”). Then in August, director of programming Rachel Rosen departed after eight years to return to San Francisco. By November, Yeldham had named longtime Newsweek film critic David Ansen as artistic director. Whether all this will result in changes to the fest remains to be seen.
Moscow International Film Festival
Its inaugural event was in 1959, but this year will mark Moscow's 32nd anniversary. Huh? The fuzzy math is a product of the Russian fest's stumbles to mount an event each year. A new Un Certain Regard-style sidebar and a fledgling co-production forum are efforts to establish consistency.
Munich Film Festival
June 25-July 3
Germany's No. 2 fest is everything Berlin is not: warm, stress-free and (mostly) all-access. Come for the beer and the long lunches by the river Isar -- and to network with the German industry, all of whom attend.
Sponsored by AFI and the Discovery Channel, the 8-year-old event attracts a strong industry crowd for a documentary fest, not to mention a healthy contingent of international buyers, drawn by 100-plus films from more than 60 countries, as well as the concurrent International Documentary Conference.
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
The location, a Bohemian spa town in the Czech Republic, sets the mood. It might be an island of calm, but enough business gets done to justify the trip. And there is still time to see films and catch up with the East European industry.
Traverse City Film Festival
July 27-Aug. 1
How big can a festival in a small Lake Michigan town be? Ask Michael Moore, who founded the fan-friendly summer event in 2005 and has overseen growth to 96,000 admissions last year. Featuring parties, concerts and a costumed 5K run, Traverse has already spawned a sister comedy event, to be held Feb. 19-21.
Locarno International Film Festival
The most laid-back of the A-list fests, Locarno is the spot to do business the European way. The highlights are the Piazza Grande screenings with an open-air audience of 10,000 in the city's main square.
Montreal World Film Festival
Aug. 26-Sept. 6
Canada's other major event shifts the focus from Hollywood to global cinema. Montreal's market acts as a port of entry for foreign distributors and sales agents, and a networking hub for producers looking for co-production partners.
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