Key Fall Festivals

Top sprocket operas ready for movie lovers

Fall Festivals Roundup
Sebastien Thibault

Toronto Intl. Film Festival

Sept. 5-15


The biggest festival in North America screens more than 250 films and Hollywood sees Toronto as a starting point for the awards season race. The lineup includes buzz titles “12 Years a Slave” from Steve McQueen; John Wells’ “August: Osage County,” with Meryl Streep; Bill Condon’s “The Fifth Estate”; Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day,” his fourth film to hit Toronto; “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba; “The Railway Man” with Colin Firth; and Errol Morris’ latest documentary, “The Unknown Known.”

San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival

Sept. 20-28

The biggest festival in the Spanish-speaking world has a lot of things going against it, like a budget cut and a crisis-filled Spanish film industry. But that has not stopped fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos, who has kept the festival on the radar of Hollywood, and expects more U.S. films, like last year’s “Argo,” to stage splashy Euro preems. On July 24, he also unveiled a fairly spectacular spread of Spanish movies, ranging from Juan Jose Campanella’s Argentine-Spanish 3D feature toon “Foosball” to Manuel Martin Cuenca’s arty genre “Cannibal.”

Rio de Janeiro Intl. Film Festival

Sept. 26-Oct. 10


The Big Daddy of Latin American fests, selling 250,000 tickets, featuring 22 sections in 2012 and an outreach program into the heart of the city’s favelas, Rio offers a stunning and relaxed gateway to Brazil’s film biz and industry issues — which are debated at several panels and seminars — and also its growing production sector. Local pic competition, Premiere Brasil, unspools the gamut of Brazilian production from blockbusters to arthouse.

Busan Intl. Film Festival

Oct 3-12

South Korea

Busan continues to put on the biggest and most integrated festival in Asia. Its activities run from a prestigious competition section through numerous sidebars, to a well-run rights and project market. Locations show Biffcom also takes place during the market days. For the past two years, coinciding with the elevation of Lee Yong-kwan as festival boss, more activities have shifted to the purpose-built festival center and the colossal Bexco exhibition site. Many of the programmers have kept their jobs but this year find themselves running new sections.

Sitges Intl. Fantastic Film Festival

Oct. 11-20


Sitges is Europe’s biggest genre/fantasy fest that also programs a huge showcase of scarefare shorts. It also specializes in exactly the type of movies and filmmakers the industry has been increasingly craving: smart, elevated international genre and original genre directors. “This is not like Cannes or Sundance where directors have big entourages. Directors often attend Sitges by themselves: You can really get quality time with them,” says Adrian Guerra, producer of 2013’s Sitges opener, “Grand Piano.”

Tokyo Intl. Film Festival

Oct. 17-25


Tokyo has a new director general — senior Kadokawa executive Yasushi Shiina is replacing Gaga boss Tom Yoda — and he has announced that the festival will be refreshed. But so far Shiina has yet to stamp a marked change on the 26-year-old event. He has relabeled a couple of sections: Japanese Cinema Splash succeeds Japanese Eyes; Asian Future succeeds Winds of Asia; and a World Focus section will showcase prize-winning films from other fests. The festival maintains its main competition and its venue in the swanky Roppongi Hills district.

Morelia Intl. Film Festival

Oct. 18-27


Mexico’s foremost national talent platform, Morelia’s star has risen with the country’s newest director-producer wave, launching in 2003 as a docu/shorts fest, then accepting first and second features starting in 2007, and now, it’s open to all Mexican features. “We want to establish a wider horizon of what Mexican film is about,” says Morelia founder-director Daniela Michel. Roughly half its features competition could still be first features, she adds. Exactingly curated, convivial and favored by choice international visitors — such as Gus Van Sant.

Baja Intl. Film Festival

Nov. 13-16

Los Cabos, Mexico

As U.S.-Mexico movie links strengthen, the fest, under Alonso Aguilar aims to build industry heft, while still interfacing North America and Mexico. Alonso has tapped ex-Guadalajara market head Alejandra Paulin and former Imcine international deputy director Maru Garzon. He has added a Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, a Work-in-Progress Mexico strand and a Mexico First sidebar for first and second films. Baja’s main competish now features Mexican, U.S. and Canadian pics.

Other key fall festivals

Montreal World Film Festival

Aug. 22-Sept. 2


“L’Autre Maison” (Another House), the first fiction feature by Quebec director Mathieu Roy, kicks off the 37th edition of the Canadian fest; pic will also play in competition, a unique feature of the festival. Alan Ladd Jr. heads the jury. Kathleen Turner will receive the Special Grand Prize of the Americas. Anne Fontaine’s “Adore” closes the festival.

Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival

Sept. 17- Oct. 1

Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

“Half of a Yellow Sun” opens the Caribbean fest, while Argentinian filmmaker Julia Solomonoff will lead the Filmmakers Immersion workshop.

Vancouver Intl. Film Festival

Sept. 26-Oct. 1


What’s new: The BC Spotlight, a competition for local filmmakers. VIFF is launching the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award ($7,500 cash prize); and the best BC Film award ($10,000 in development money) given to the producer of a narrative feature film selected for VIFF 2013.

Zurich Film Festival

Sept. 26-Oct. 6


What’s new: The Treatment Competition awards 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,273); the winner also receives a screenplay development agreement worth up to $26,000 for the creation of a feature-length pic or TV film. Brazil is the country of focus while Zurich and San Sebastian, which take place almost simultaneously, will collaborate.

New York Film Festival

Sept. 27-Oct. 13

Kent Jones takes over as director of programming and selection committee chair from Richard Pena, who guided NYFF for 25 years. The World preem of “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, opens the fest. Ben Stiller starrer “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is the Centerpiece Gala.

Woodstock Film Festival

Oct. 2-6

New York

What’s new: Fest added a venue in Saugerties, N.Y., to the list of Hudson Valley towns hosting events. Its juried Animated Program is curated by Bill Plympton and animator Signe Baumane, with an Animation Competition sponsored by Blue Sky Studios. Winning film gets $2000 cash.

Mill Valley Film Festival

Oct. 3-13

Mill Valley, Corte Madera and San Rafael, Calif.

Ghent Film Festival

Oct. 8-19


What’s new: The music-focused fest celebrates its 40th anni. It has commissioned composer Kevin Toma to score 1927 silent “7th Heaven,” which will unspool Oct. 18. The works of Martin Scorsese are the focus of a tribute.

The BFI London Film Festival

Oct. 9-20


Tom Hanks opens and closes the festival with “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Hamptons Intl. Film Festival

Oct. 10-14

East Hampton, N.Y.

Warsaw Film Fest

Oct. 11-20

Warsaw, Poland

Sao Paulo Intl. Film Festival

Oct. 18-31


Austin Film Festival

Oct. 24-31


Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Oct. 24-Nov. 2

Abu Dhabi, UAE


Oct. 24-Nov. 6

Vienna, Austria

Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival

Nov. 1-10

Thessaloniki, Greece

Stockholm Film Festival

Nov. 6-17

Stockholm, Sweden

AFI Fest

Nov. 7-14

Los Angeles

Napa Valley Film Festival

Nov. 13-17

Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, Calif.

Rome Film Festival

Nov. 13-17



Nov. 16-23

Bydgoszcz, Poland

What’s new: Fest honors Polish lenser Slawomir Idziak with the lifetime achievement award and a selection of his work will screen.