Why Film Festivals Matter

October 19, 2017

Over the past few weeks, we’ve highlighted just a few of the 3,000+ film festivals around the world every year. From humble beginnings in Venice, Italy in 1932 as part of a biannual art, dance and theater exposition, film festivals today bring together filmmakers and fans, connect critical work to new audiences, and even boost local economies.

Film festivals are a vital piece of the film ecosystem, and their impact is evident across our culture:

  • A platform for new talent
    Each year, filmmakers submit their creations to a range of film festivals in the hopes of getting their work premiered. If a film attracts the attention of festival curators, an independent creator could have their work showcased in front of an influential audience. Film festivals have helped open doors for many of today’s iconic filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Morgan Spurlock and Darren Aronofsky.
  • Attracting new audiences
    When a new or independent filmmaker brings a film to a festival, the viewers have the opportunity to connect with the story through experiencing the film firsthand. The festival setting allows them to share their emotions and ideas with the filmmakers, panelists, and other audience members to open a new perspective on the film. This process can give the filmmaker insights and even unlock new avenues for the film with producers, distributors, and others who can bring it to a wider audience.
  • Promoting tourism and the local economy
    Film festivals can attract attendees from their own community and around the world, ultimately boosting the local economy. Last year, the Sundance Film Festival generated $151.5 million for Utah’s economy and brought more than $400 million to the state over the last five years. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) contributed over $180 million to that city’s economy.

After Venice pioneered the film festival, other prestigious events, such as the Cannes film festival in France, began shortly after. As time went on, other cities took note and created their own festivals to attract filmmakers and audiences, and often reflect their own perspectives. Festivals like Sundance, TIFF, the Morelia International Film Festival, the Tokyo International Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival have helped usher some of the most important films of the last forty years to audiences around the world.

More recently, festivals such as the Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival and South by Southwest Film Festival have given a new generation of filmmakers an opportunity to exhibit their work.

Film festivals highlight the worldwide passion of cinema and showcase the value of film, both creatively and economically. More than anything, film festivals deliver a new, unique way to experience the movies, always driven by the power of a good story.