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5 types of Festivals, a classification by Elliott Grove

Film festivals are divided into categories based on the number of acquisition executives that attend.


The major film festivals, in rank, are: Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam and Venice. Cannes is undoubtedly the premiere event. Toronto and Sundance vie for the number two spot, but since Sundance has become a launching pad for Hollywood films, I personally give the number two spot to Toronto - if for no other reason than the important slots it gives to foreign language films. Rotterdam is an amazing festival hosted by an amazing city. Berlin has an excellent festival with Europe's most energetic and charismatic director. Venice is an important festival as well, but is becoming dangerously corporate.


Mini-major festivals are also excellent festivals to launch your films, and vie with the majors for industry and celebrity turnout. Festivals such as Locarno, San Sebastian, Tribeca and Karlovy Vary have hundreds of celebrities and paparazzi attending and can be a useful springboard to getting your film noticed.

City Festivals

There are many city festivals that attract the attention of filmmakers and filmgoers alike. They do not have a sizeable industry presence, very few acquisitions executives and are designed to appeal to the cineastes within their borders. Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge and London are some of the important UK festivals designed for local residents. Palm Springs, Telluride, San Francisco and Montreal are a few of the many in North America.

Mom and Pop

At the risk of sounding patronising, mom and pop festivals are small festivals that were created simply for the enjoyment of cinema. They are usually run by one or two people, and can be themed, such as the Frightfest and the Sci-Fi Festival, in London. Sometimes they offer wider themes, such as the Human Rights Festival or the London Lesbian and Gay Festival (run by the British Film Institute). These festivals attract local press, but very few if any industry people and virtually no acquisitions executives attend.


There are only three truly independent film festivals in the world: The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, held each April in LA, the Slamdance Film Festival held each January simultaneously with the Sundance Film Festival, and Raindance in October in London. Each of these film festivals treat submitting filmmakers with a great deal of integrity and each prides itself in viewing every single submission many times until a quorum of programmers decides whether or not the film should be screened. These three festivals are also classed as mini-majors according to the number of acquisition executives who attend.

Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998 and Raindance.TV in 2007. He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38.

He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America. He has written two books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB, 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008) and RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (2004). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication in 2010.

He has been awarded an Honourary Docorate by open University for services to film education.


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