Jeremy Kopp
Vice President, Media Society

Thanks to the great proliferation of technology in the digital age, the nature of the film industry has dramatically shifted. Today, audiences are choosing to forgo the traditional movie theater ticket, and instead are streaming films from the comfort of their own homes on a range of internet-connected devices such as tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs. In fact, according to statistics, cinema attendances actually hit a 19-year low in 2014.

However, despite this major change, the movie industry is still an incredibly profitable field to invest in. In fact, there are many other ways that pictures can gain exposure and find financial success — and one of the most effective is the film festival. These events accept and showcase a wide range of new movies, from those made by amateur filmmakers to those shot by established indie studios.

Film festivals are important because in today’s streamable world, theatrical distribution is no longer the definitive way that movies make their money. These events present a different way to circulate a film, ensuring that it is seen by both the public and industry professionals alike, while the path to financial success can often begin once a movie has picked up one of the many accolades the festival circuit hands out each year.

Festivals also lend the pictures they screen a sense of prestige, creating a buzz and demand across the globe, and give filmmakers a chance to network with other industry professionals, as well as people who are looking to invest in independent film.

If you want to boost your film’s cachet, gain some exposure, and find investors for your work, there are several coveted festivals that consistently feature high-quality, award-winning pictures. These events are a great way to get your film discovered, so that the rest of the world can eventually get the chance to see it, too.

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Festival de Cannes
Staged on the gorgeous French Riviera, Cannes is widely regarded as the pinnacle of film festivals. Founded in 1946, the event has been showcasing movies with wide audience appeal ever since, and has become increasingly renowned for its star-studded and glamorous attendee list. Many winners of the festival have gone on to achieve huge commercial and critical success, including Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, and Apocalypse Now.
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Sundance Film Festival
Founded by Robert Redford in 1985, the Sundance Film Festival is perhaps the most illustrious event of its kind to take place on American soil. Held at Salt Lake City’s Park City at the beginning of each year, the festival has built a reputation for showcasing the best in both homegrown and international independent filmmaking. Some of the most successful movies to win prizes at Sundance include American Splendor, You Can Count on Me, and Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.
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Toronto International Film Festival
Renowned for launching the careers of several major big-screen talents, the Toronto International Film Festival gives Cannes a run for its money in terms of importance. Founded in 1986, the event shows hundreds of movies each year, and attracts a huge number of industry professionals — making it a great place for you to network with those who may want to invest in independent film. Past winners of the festival include Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty, and The King’s Speech.