Film festivals. Everybody knows of them. Every cinephile keeps up with them and at some point dreams of attending one of the larger ones. Film festivals give us movie lovers our first exposure to the movies that will take over our theaters over the coming year. The bigger film festivals are to movies what E3 and TGS and such are to video games. They're the events that the hardcore fans impatently await every year to get the first glimpse at what will certainly be the coming year's biggest movies. On top of that, film festivals gives independent filmmakers a chance to reach a wider audience. Allowed the art of cinema to expand and the filmmaker's work to be appreciated. That being said, here are what I feel to be the top three film festivals in the United States.
1. Sundance Film Festival
Sundance. This is the premiere festival for independent films. This is the big boy that all filmmakers try to get their work into. Sundance, founded in 1978, is the largest showcase there is for independent films. As such, many of the larger filmmakers got their big break by premiering at Sundance. Some of these directors include Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, Kevin Smith, Paul Anderson and many more. Likewise, the festival premieres independent movies every year bringing them to a wider audience, and has replied in bringing some of the largest independent films to moviegoers attentions. Films such as Clerks, Saw, Reservoir Dogs, Precious, Moon, Little Miss Sunshine and the list goes on and on. The festival has grown to huge proportions, becoming something of a Hollywood extravaganza. Despite this, the festival still does it's part to cater to and help smaller filmmakers every year. If I had but one film festival I could ever attend, Sundance would be that one.
2. Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002. This festival was founded in honor of the 9/11 attacks. Despite being one of the youngest festivals, Tribeca has managed to rapidly rise in prestige, becoming one of the most prominent film festivals in the world. Due to the immense success of the festival, Tribeca has become an important showcase and great opportunity for independent filmmakers to make a name for themselves. The offerings at Tribeca range from independent feature films to documentaries to short films, to even family films. In its short time, Tribeca has already been the spot where such films as Shrek Forever After, Freakonomics and Get Low. Having made such an impact on the industry in such little time, Tribeca is definitely one of the big boys and one to watch out for even more in the future.
3. Telluride Film Festival
Telluride started in 1974. There's sort of a rule about the festival that says movies must premiere in North America to be eligible for submission to this festival. As such, they show many new films at Telluride. These results in many films getting their premiere at Telluride. The festival has premiered such movies as Roger and Me, El Mariachi, Brokeback Mountain, The Crying Game and many more. This year hearings even received a surprise premiere of 127 Hours starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle. It has been grounds for filmmakers to make a name for themselves and be a break out point for these filmmakers. Telluride is also well known and praised for its purity. Thus, making it one of the more respected festivals for being one of those so dedicated to the art of cinema.
* New York Film Festival – This festival is known for being so selective. Screening far fewer movies than most festivals, it's considered an honor to even be selected. It says a lot when just being part of the festival is considered an award in itself.
* Seattle International Film Festival – This is one of the largest festivals in the United States and one of the top. The SIFF is seen more as a festival for the audience rather than a festival for filmmakers and the industry. They tend to focus on bringing great movies to audiences and giving fans good movie-going experiences rather than the primary focus of making it a showcase for filmmakers to critics.