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Film Festivals in 2021

Film Feature by Lawrence Bennie

With ongoing uncertainty over major theatrical releases, audiences can rest assured that their favourite film festivals will continue in the year ahead, albeit in a slightly different format for some. With Sundance and Göteborg already wrapping for another year, we look at the major film festivals that lay in wait for the rest of 2021.

Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival

February Film Festivals

International Film Festival Rotterdam: Netherlands 1st-7th February 7 (Online)

Formed in 1972, IFFR marches ever closer to its 50th anniversary with a curated selection of fiction and documentary feature films, short films and media arts.

Glasgow Film Festival: UK, 24th February – 7th March (Live)

“One of the friendliest film festivals on the planet” dedicated to world cinema and Scottish film. Screenings will be held at Glasgow Film Theatre and at selected venues across the city.

March Film Festivals

Berlin International Film Festival: Germany, 1st – 5th March (Online)

Marking its 70th year, “Berlinale” will unfold in two stages for 2021 with online screenings in March followed by indoor and outdoor screenings later in June.

Miami Film Festival: US, 5th – 14th March (Live & Online)

Returning for its 38th edition, Miami Film Festival showcases independent American and international films with a special focus on Ibero-American films.

New York International Children’s Film Festival: US, 5th – 14th March (Online)

Founded in 1997, NYICFF has become the largest film festival for children and teens in North America.

Vilnius International Film Festival: Lithuania, 18th March – 1st April (Online)

One of the first digital festivals in 2020, Lithuania’s flagship cinema event celebrates the history of film, national premieres and industry developments.

April Film Festivals

Hong Kong International Film Festival: Hong Kong, 1st -12th April (Live & Online)

Asia’s oldest international film festival marks its 45th anniversary this year as a hybrid event of in-theatre and online screenings.

Seattle International Film Festival: US, 8th-18th April (Online)

A ten-day online event, more than 100 international and independent films will be screened at the 47th SIFF.

Istanbul International Film Festival: Turkey, 9th-20th April (Live & Online)

An April fixture since 1984, the 40th edition of the festival is set to hold screenings online and in cinemas, as well as at outdoor venues.

May Film Festivals

Cheltenham International Film Festival: UK, 25th May – 5th June (Live & Online)

The first UK international film festival to go entirely online last year, plans are afoot for the festival to make a ‘live’ return, along with an additional online programme.

Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival: Canada, 27th May-6th June (Screenings TBC)

“Celebrating the best of queer film from Canada and around the world”, Inside Out returns with a programme of documentary, experimental, narrative and short films.

June Film Festivals

Edinburgh International Film Festival: UK, 23rd June – 4th July (Screenings TBC)

The world’s longest continuous film festival, the hugely influential EIFF has plans in place for a hopeful return this summer.

Brussels International Film Festival, Belgium, 24th June – 4th July (Screenings TBC)

One of the younger international film festivals, the 4th edition of BIFF will bring a carefully curated selection of arthouse films to the screen.

July Film Festivals

Cannes Film Festival, France, Dates TBC (Screenings TBC)

Following its 2020 cancellation, the 74th edition of Cannes has been rescheduled from its usual May timeslot to accommodate plans to return to a live programme of screenings.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Czech Republic, 2nd-10th July (Screenings TBC)

Returning for a 55th year, Central and Eastern Europe’s most prestigious film festival showcases around 200 films from across the globe, with many films screened exclusively for the event.

Comic-Con: US, 22nd July – 25th July (Live)

The world’s number one event for all things pop culture was cancelled for its 50th anniversary in 2020 but is currently set to blast back home to the San Diego Convention Centre this summer.

August Film Festivals

Melbourne International Film Festival: Australia, 5th August – 22nd August (Screenings TBC)

Australia’s leading film festival, MIFF is dedicated to innovative screen experiences and exceptional Australian filmmaking.

Sarajevo Film Festival: Bosnia & Herzegovina, 13th August – 20th August (Screenings TBC)

Formed in 1995 in the wake of the city’s four-year siege, the SFF has grown to become the leading film festival in the region.

September Film Festivals

Venice International Film Festival: Italy, 1st – 11th September (Screenings TBC)

The world’s oldest film festival, one of the signature film events in the film calendar, will be taking place once again at Venice Lido.

Helsinki International Film Festival: Finland, 16th – 27 September (Screenings TBC)

Finland’s biggest film festival is a non-competitive event promoting the “artistry of filmmaking alongside inventive, controversial and visually stunning new films”.

Zurich Film Festival: Switzerland, 23rd September 23 – 3rd October (Screenings TBC)

Dedicated to promoting emerging filmmakers from around the world, ZFF has rapidly grown into a major film festival showcasing “the year’s greatest discoveries and most anticipated films”.

Toronto International Film Festival: Canada, 9th – 19th September (Screenings TBC)

One of the few major festivals to run in 2020 (with online streaming and limited in-person screenings), TIFF continues to reign supreme, hailed by Time as “the most influential film festival, period”.

October Film Festivals

Film Fest Gent: Belgium, 12th – 13th October (Screenings TBC)

Among Europe’s most prominent film events, Film Fest Gent holds a global programme of some 80 features and 50 shorts, as well as a celebrated series of film music concerts.

Raindance Film Festival: UK, 27th October – 6th November (Screenings TBC)

The UK’s haven for independent film, the 29th Raindance Festival is currently scheduled to make a return to London’s West End later this year.

November Film Festivals

Stockholm International Film Festival: Sweden, 10th – 21st November (Screenings TBC)

One of Sweden’s flagship cultural events, SIFF is established as one of the leading film festivals in Europe, with a mission to “promote the directors of tomorrow”.

UK Film Review Festival: Online, 13th – 20th November (Screenings TBC)

Our very own online film festival showcasing an array of independent films. In our 2nd outing, we will be showcasing films over 1 week and highlighting different genres each day. Submissions are now open via FilmFreeway.



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