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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May 2005, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Film Festival Guide
The BBC News website profiles some of the world's biggest and most influential film festivals.

LondonTorontoSundance, OhioBerlinTribeca, New YorkVeniceCannes


South African actress Pauline Malefane (l) and director Mark Dronford-May pose with the Golden Bear award at the 55th Berlinale International Film Festival
The film U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha won the Golden Bear in 2005

Where: Berlin, Germany

When: February

Top prize: Golden Bear

History: Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, starring Joan Fontaine, opened the very first Berlin Film Festival - or Berlinale - in 1951.

It was set up to try and recapture some of the artistic glory days of the 1920s, while much of the city was still under reconstruction after World War II.

Structure: The Berlinale is divided into different sections: Competition; Panorama; Kinderfilmfest; Perspektive Deutsches Kino; the International Forum of New Cinema; Retrospective; and Homage.

These categories include screenings of big international movies; independent and art-house productions; world cinema and domestic films.

Festival facts: About 350 films are shown at the two-week long festival every year, most of which are world or European premieres.

As well as being one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, with 150,000 tickets sold, the Berlinale is also one of the biggest.

More than 16,000 film professionals, including 3,600 journalists from about 80 countries are accredited for the festival every year.


The Palais -  copyright Duroselle / FIF
The Palais is the hub of activity at Cannes

Where: Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

When: May

Top prize: Palme d'Or

History: The inaugural Cannes Film Festival was held in September 1939, but it was not held again until after World War II.

The event moved to April during the 1950s and the Palme d'Or prize was introduced in 1955.

The festival established itself during the 1960s, and has since secured its status as the world's most prestigious.

Structure: It is made up of seven major sections - In Competition; Out of Competition; Un Certain Regard; Cinefondation; Critics' Week; Directors' Fortnight and Marche du Film.

Films screening In Competition are nominees for the prestigious Palme d'Or film prize, while those Out of Competition tend to be big international films that do not meet the competition criteria.

Un Certain Regard was set up in 1978 to act as a showcase for world cinema; while three awards are given to the best short and medium-length films in Cinefondation.

Festival facts: About 20 feature films compete each year for the Palme d'Or. Previous winners have included Michael Moore and Quentin Tarantino.

Unlike the Oscars, the top prize is frequently shared between two films

Famous films to claim the Palme d'Or include Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, La Dolce Vita, and The Third Man.

The Cannes Film Festival attracts over 40,000 movie industry workers every year.


Vera Drake
Mike Leigh's Vera Drake opened the 2004 festival

Where: London, UK

When: October/November

Top prize: Non-competitive

History: The London Film Festival started in 1956 when a group of film critics headed by the famous Dilys Powell - the film critic for the Sunday Times - got together over dinner.

They discussed the festivals at Cannes and Venice and agreed that London needed one too.

Its aim was to give the public the opportunity to see films from around the world that were not being shown in the cinema.

The first festival featured 20 films all shown at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank.

Structure: The London Film Festival is split into a number of 'strands' - Film on the Square; New British Cinema; French Revolutions; Cinema Europa; World Cinema; Experimenta; Short Cuts and Animation.

The selected films are a mix of features, documentaries, shorts, and animation - all of which must be UK premieres.

Festival facts: The festival is one of Europe's largest public film events, screening about 280 films from 60 countries.

Although non-competitive, the British Film Institute awards the Sutherland Trophy to the maker of the most original and imaginative first feature film screened during the festival.


Robert Redford
Robert Redford has had a huge influence on Sundance

Where: Park City, Utah, USA

When: January

Top prize: Grand Jury Prize

History: In 1978 the Utah Film Commission established The Utah/United States Film Festival in Salt Lake City.

Three years later, actor Robert Redford established The Sundance Institute to actively engage aspiring filmmakers, with the festival.

In 1985 the festival became part of the Sundance Institute and added international films to its program. It was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival in 1991.

Structure: Premieres; American Spectrum; Park City at Midnight; Frontier; Special Screenings; and Sundance Collection

The categories give a platform to work from established US and international directors, emerging US film-makers, experimental world cinema, and draw on Sundance's Collection archive of independent cinema.

Festival facts: More than 100 feature-length films are screened every year, with a high number of them world premieres.

Sundance attracts more than 20,000 people each year.

Not only did Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut Reservoir Dogs premiere at Sundance, he actually produced it with formal guidance from the Sundance Institute.


Toronto Film Festival
The Toronto Film Festival was established in 1976

Where: Toronto, Canada

When: September

Top prize: People's Choice Award

History: The Toronto Film Festival started out in 1976 as a 'festival of festivals' - a collection of films from other festivals.

Throughout the years, it has grown in size, and is considered by many to be only second to Cannes in terms of influence.

Structure: Canada First; Canadian Open Vault; Canadian Retrospective; Short Film; Contemporary World Cinema; asp> Dialogues; Discovery Masters; Midnight Madness, National Cinema, Planet Africa, Real to reel; Special Presentations; Viacom galas; Visions; Wavelengths.

The festival showcases the best in emerging and established home-grown talent, international film-makers, world cinema, documentaries and avant-garde film.

Festival facts: 1981 - Chariots of Fire - which went on to win the best picture Oscar - premiered at Toronto in 1981.

Other winners of the People's Choice Award have included Hotel Rwanda (2004), Whale Rider (2002), and Strictly Ballroom (1992).


Robert De Niro
Actor Robert De Niro is one of Tribeca's founders

Where: New York, USA

When: April

Top prize: Best Narrative Feature Film

History: The first annual Tribeca Film Festival was set up in 2002 by actor Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.

It attracted more than 150,000 people and screened premieres of studio films Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, About A Boy, and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The festival has grown considerably in four years.

Structure: Tribeca is split into a number of sections: Spotlight; Special Screening; Competition for Narrative Features; Competition for Documentary Feature; Showcase; Restored/Rediscovered; Midnight; Shorts in Competition; Family Film Festival; Tribeca Talks Panel Series; Special Events; NY, NY; Family Film Festival; Wide Angle.

Festival Facts: Tribeca is short for "triangle below Canal" - the area south of Soho in Manhattan bounded by Canal on the north, Broadway on the east, Barclay on the south and the Hudson River on the west.

It was founded to celebrate New York's position as a major film-making location and to contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan.


Scarlett Johanssen
Actress Scarlett Johanssen was on the jury at Venice in 2004

Where: Venice, Italy

When: August/September

Top prize: Golden Lion

History: The Venice Film Festival - or Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica - is the oldest film festival still in existence.

It was first held in 1932 as part of the 18th Venice Biennale, and was held on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior on the Venice Lido and attracted more than 25,000 people.

The first film to be shown was Rouben Mamoulian's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, while other screenings included films like It happened one night, by Frank Capra, Frankenstein by James Whale, and Zemlja by Aleksandr Dovzenko.

The festival was not held again until 1934, with a competition that included 19 countries, and attracted 300 accredited journalists.

The festival was held three times during World War II and has been held annually - with some exceptions - since then. Not all of the years were competitive.

Structure: The Mostra is made up of four sections: Venezia; Out of Competition; Orizzonti; Corto Cortissimo. They run alongside International Critik's Week; Venice Days and Film Marketplace.

While the Venezia features 20 feature films in competition, the Out of Competition section showcases some of the biggest films of the year.

Orizzonti aims to provide a platform for new trends in cinema; while Corto Cortissimo is a competition for short films.

Festival facts: Films that were screened as world-premieres at the 61st Venice Film Festival in 2004 were nominated for 16 at the Oscars - the highest ever for the festival.

They included Vera Drake, Shark Tale, Collateral and Finding Neverland.

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