Skip to main content
July 7, 2012

5 of the best film festivals you've never heard of

Cannes, Venice, Sundance – just three of the many global film festivals that you will have heard of, but what about all of those around the world that may have slipped under your radar? We take a look at 5 of the best that you may never have heard of…

1. Filmfest München

via Filmfest München

Ah, Munich. Famed for its Oktoberfest Beer Festival, the Bavarian city is perhaps lesser well known for the Filmfest that runs…well, right now! Today is the last day, so if you’re in the area, stop by and check out what’s going on, you might catch a glimpse of some stars on the red carpet.

Indeed, this year is a special year for the Filmfest

‘The 30th International Filmfest München is celebrating its anniversary with the best films of the summer, premieres and parties’

And there are some big prizes available – €70,000 for the best German New Talent and €30,000 for the best foreign film. Worth a try for any budding cinematographers out there.


2. The Disposable Film Festival

‘What’s that?’ I hear you cry ‘Sounds weird’. Well let me explain. The Disposable Film Festival (or DFF) was created a few years ago to

‘celebrate the creative potential of disposable video: short films
made on everyday equipment like cell phones, pocket cameras, and other inexpensive video
capture devices’

Right in the Nokia Connects wheelhouse, then. Indeed, browsing the festival entries channel, I recognised Splitscreen: A Love Story – filmed on the Nokia N8 for the Nokia Shorts competition last year (and which won the top prize). A great idea for a film festival, and one I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on in the future.


3. Zanzibar International Film Festival

Firstly, Zanzibar is on an island off the coast of Tanzania. Now we have that out of the way, the festival. ZIFF, as it is known is

‘in its 15th year and the largest of its kind in East Africa, is renowned the world over for putting African film, music, art and design at the forefront of the international scene.’

2011 ZIFF winner Sajni Srivastava via ZIFF Flickr and Peter Bennett

With 43 countries represented, drawing in 7,000 visitors from overseas, over 200,000 people will see the films entered this year.


4. Busan International Film Festival

From ZIFF to BIFF – the Busan International Film Festival to be precise. Busan is South Korea’s second largest city, and the film festival is in its 17th year.

via BIFF

Officially listed as a ‘non-competitive’ film festival (although there are awards), this year there will be around 300 films from 70 countries shown over 36 screens. Last year’s festival saw 196,177 (precisely) admissions to the 307 movies and in 2012 it aims to celebrate

‘fresh and innovative projects with a clear point of view’

Running in October, this is definitely one to watch if you are in the region, or have a passion for Asian cinema.


5. International Buddhist Film Festival

Finally, a little bit of zen to wrap up the list. The IBFF is ‘the world’s leading presenter of Buddhist-themed and Buddhist-inspired cinema’. In fact, its mission is to showcase

‘cinema as a vehicle for wider appreciation and better understanding of Buddhism by general audiences, particularly for the remarkable ethnic and cultural diversity evident among Buddhists worldwide today’

via Filmland Empire (a still from Mindfulness and Murder)

The IBFF runs in Hong Kong, London and Bangkok, a truly international affair. Check it out if you need a better understanding of Buddhism, or want to get away from the 3D in your face action adventure movies that fill the movie theatres nowadays.


So there’s five festivals that you probably haven’t heard of. Now you have. Are you going to check any of them out? How about suggesting a festival near you that wasn’t on our list? Drop me a comment below with your thoughts, or condense them to 140 characters and pop them on Twitter.