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Indie Birds – For the Sake of Festival Season, Indian VS International Film Festivals

Cinephiles all over the world, including myself, can’t wait!

We can trace back the birth of film-festivals to 1920s, the era of flappers and commercialisation of Hollywood. Seeing the rise in popularity of Hollywood, there was formation of film societies in France with the focus on non-commercial films by independent and underdog productions.

Film-festivals started with the aim to promote the vision and popularize the stories of the indie filmmaker, and they continue their mission today as well, with increased furore and admiration.

However, this may not be the case everywhere. When we compare the International film festivals to the Indian film-festivals, a stark reality comes to light. On an average, the best film-festivals in India see attendance that is limited to a few thousands, while most international film-festivals have a footfall of roughly 5,00,000 people. The difference is also shown in the amount of submissions and screenings of films in the Indian and global stage.

Given below are the top 5 International and Indian Film festivals:


Cannes film fest:

The Festival De Cannes needs no introduction. Officially founded in 1946, the Cannes film fest is now recognised as the epitome of prestige for filmmakers all over the world.

Sundance film fest:

Started in 1985, and it is now the largest independent film fest in the United States of America. In the year 2017, it saw more than 13000 submissions by filmmakers all over the world.

Berlin film fest:

Popularly known as Berlinale, the Berlin film fest was first found in 1951. In its 68th edition, held in 2017, the festival saw around 2000 participants in various categories. It was attended by close to 500,000 cinephiles from across the globe.

Toronto International film fest:

Acronymed TIFF, this festival was found in 1976 as Toronto Festival of Festivals to showcase the best films from around the world. The 2016 Tiff had 6933 submissions and was attended by 480,000 people.

Venice film fest:

Holding the title of the Oldest Film-Festival, it was started as a part of the Venice Biennale in 1895! It saw its 74th edition in 2017 and had more than 500,000 footfalls in the 10 day event.



The Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) is back with the 19th Mumbai Film-Festival which will take place from 12th to 18th October, 2017. Founded in 1997, MAMI is now one of the biggest film-festivals in India. In its 17th edition, MAMI was shown in over 200 screens across 58 countries and was attended by 7000 delegates.

International Film-Festival of Kerala:

This festival was started in 1996 and has since become an extremely prestigious platform. This festival also has a special focus on regional cinema. The competitive portion of the festival screens only 14 selected films.

Kolkata International film-fest:

It was founded in 1995 and took inspiration from geniuses like Satyajit Ray, RitwikGhatak, and Mrinal Sen. This year the festival has 553 entries which are cumulative of Short Films and Feature Films categories.

International film-fest of India, Goa:

Considered to be one of the oldest Indian film-festivals,(IFFI) was founded in 1952. In 2016, IFFI had more than a 1000 entries from 100 different countries all around the world.

Dharamshala International film-fest:

A relatively young festival, the DIFF was started in 2012 and saw more than 5000 people in attendance who saw 22 films that were screened. In 2016, this festival screened over 40 films.

The vast of amount of difference in the numbers seems worrisome. Sure, one can argue that it is not fair to compare India to a global stage. However, India is the home of Bollywood, the largest producer of films all over the world. Indians have been watching and patronising films for more than a century! But the reality is that independent cinema in India has to fight to be recognised.

To give the much needed push to indie films in India, we are seeing a rise in the number of film-festivals. Recently, MAMI also tied up with broadcaster Tata Sky to bring film fests to the comfort of your home, read all about it here. All we can hope is that with continuous efforts and awareness, indie films will get the kind of platform and audience that they deserve.

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