It’s fair to say that the film industry is a competitive one. There are so many awards and competitions available for both new and seasoned filmmakers to sink their teeth into these days and they are a great way to introduce new content and test it out on audiences. Nowhere is this truer than at film festivals, huge events made to celebrate every facet of the industry and discover its greatest talents. There are so many all over the world, though three stand out above the rest, so much so that they have been named the “Big Three”.
The first of these and in fact the first film festival to ever be held is Venice International Film Festival, home of the ‘Golden Lion’ award. The festival was founded in August 1932 as part of the Venice Biennale which is an Italian art exhibition that was created by the Venice City Council in 1893 which is still going today and includes a variety of festivals covering arts such as theatre, music, dance and even architecture. The Film Festival is run annually between August and September on Lido, a small island in the Venice Lagoon, an enclosed bay in the Adriatic Sea.
Its first edition was put on from the 6th to the 21st August 1932; the idea was conceived by the head of the Venice Biennale at the time Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata along with Luciano De Feo who was the General Secretary of the International Institute for Educational Cinema. The festival received strong support from the Italian authorities. This unlike now however was simply a showcase of works from across the globe rather than a competitive event with awards being handed out. Around a total of 25,000 spectators showed throughout its run, the show was a success and would be the start of many more to follow.
The Venice Film Festival has come a long way since its early days, now it offers a series of awards that cover not only the best films but celebrate achievements in directing, technical contributions and acting. In 2012 the festival launched its ‘Biennale College – Cinema’ initiative, a higher education workshop intended to assist the production and development of small budget audio-visual works. More recently the festival has found itself becoming something of an Academy Awards launch pad, with a larger presence from American movies. It has been home to the premiere of films like Birdman, Spotlight and The Shape of Water.
Arguably the most well known of the “Big Three” is the Cannes Film Festival, held in the city of Cannes, France. It’s an invitation only festival held annually, usually in the month of May. Here, new films of all genres, not excluding documentaries, from all over the world are previewed and many awards are offered, covering a variety of subjects from filmmaking, acting and writing to more selective categories such as best LGBT related film and even best canine performance. The most coveted award at the festival is the Golden Palm, a sort of best in show award.