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Preview: Schedule of Key Film Festivals This Fall

Aug. 21-Sept. 1
Montreal World Festival

Celebrating its 38th year with a distinctly Gallic flavor, MWFF will open with “We Love You, You Bastard,” from French director — and longtime festival supporter — Claude Lelouch. Montreal closes with a tribute to another French legend, the late Alain Resnais and his last film, “Life of Riley.” But it’s not all France all the time. The fest is dedicated to the late Latin American literary icon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and will be developing the new European Films Screening section, along with greater co-production ties with a large Chinese delegation of key industry players.

Aug. 29-Sept. 1
Telluride Film Festival

Telluride has always been an intimate, casual, carefully curated festival that doesn’t announce its sked until the day before it begins. The festival’s reputation — it has hosted several Oscar winners and nominees over the years — means that cinema lovers don’t mind going in blind. For its 41st incarnation, Telluride has selected the husband and wife team of artist-writer-filmmaker Guy Maddin and critic Kim Morgan — both longtime festival boosters — as guest directors. They will serve as key collaborators in the festival’s programming decisions.

Sept. 4-14
Toronto Intl. Film Festival

TIFF, the largest of all the North American fests, will open with the Warner Bros. drama “The Judge” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, and has programmed a mix of awards contenders, star-powered indies and international arthouse fare in its Gala and Special Presentations, including Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer,” a pair of Reese Witherspoon projects and closing-night film “A Little Chaos,” Alan Rickman’s period pic starring Kate Winslet. A couple of directing rookies are also unspooling there: Jon Stewart with “Rosewater,” being sold by Sierra-Affinity, and Chris Evans with “Before We Go.” Industry events also cater to a global audience with guest speakers such as filmmaker and vfx artist Douglas Trumbull, CEO of IM Global Stuart Ford, Claudia Bluemhuber of Silver Reel, Secret Cinema founder Fabien Riggall and exec director of Eurimages Roberto Olla. Also returning are popular biz programs Producers Lab Toronto, Asian Film Summit, Docs Conference, Talent Lab and Intl. Film Finance Summit. This year’s City to City focus is Seoul, South Korea, while the influential Midnight Madness unspools Kevin Smith’s “Tusk.”

Sept. 17-24
Pyongyang Intl. Film Festival

The biennial event, which began in 1987, marks one of the extremely rare cultural exchanges between the secretive North Korea and the rest of the world, and this year’s theme is Independence, Peace and Friendship. “Bend It Like Beckham,” “Mr. Bean,” “Bride and Prejudice” and “March of the Penguins” are among the films that have unspooled at the festival. PIFF includes competitions for features, documentaries and shorts.

Sept. 25-Oct. 5
Zurich Film Festival

One of the busiest and most prolific creatives in Hollywood — German-born composer and music producer Hans Zimmer — will attend the festival to collect the lifetime achievement award in honor of his 150-plus movies which includes “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” and an Oscar for “The Lion King.” ZFF will honor guest country India in its New World View section, screening 10 new features, shorts and docs by emerging Indian filmmakers. The fest will also introduce its out-of-competition TVision section, which will present on the bigscreen productions that signal new trends and/or have garnered attention from the global TV world.

Sept. 19-27
San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival

Now in its 62nd year, this Basque institution may not be as big as Cannes or Toronto but its generous prize money, laid-back, friendly atmosphere, unique programming and its bridge to Latin American filmmakers means it’s a must for industryites looking for new talent. Denzel Washington will receive the Donostia Award; his film “The Equalizer” will screen at San Seb. Also on tap is Culinary Zinema, a popular sidebar in partnership with the Berlin festival and the Basque Culinary Center, which will kick off with “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” There will be a retrospective of trailblazing American director Dorothy Arzner, the only woman director (and the first in the DGA) to work in the studio system from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Sept. 24-Oct. 5
Raindance Film Festival

Established in London in 1992 to be the voice of Brit filmmaking, the indie fest has now branched out into filmmaking classes, workshops and seminars, and offers degrees. It also has a production arm, Raindance Raw Talent, and now has satellite offices all over the world. Opening night film this year is “I Origins.” The festival accepts films of all lengths and genres and while feature films need to be U.K. premieres, there is no premiere policy for short films and music videos.

Sept. 26-Oct. 12
New York Film Festival

This Gotham mainstay will debut three hot properties from three fave directors: David Fincher’s psychological thriller “Gone Girl,” which will open the fest; Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” which will screen as the NYFF centerpiece; and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s black comedy “Birdman,” which will close the 52nd edition. Argentina’s Lisandro Alonso has been named this year’s filmmaker in residence, and the fest’s revivals will spotlight the U.S. debut of a 4K restoration of Alain Resnais’ debut, “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”

Oct. 2-12
Mill Valley Film Festival
Offering American indies and world cinema alongside award season contenders, Mill Valley is a non-competitive film festival that draws a couple hundred filmmakers from around the world. Screening sections include World Cinema; U.S. Cinema; Valley of the Docs; Children’s FilmFest; a daily shorts program; and Active Cinema, MVFF’s activist films initiative. Festival guests also enjoy Tributes, Spotlights and Galas throughout.

Oct. 2-11
Busan Film Festival/Asian Film Market

Asia’s biggest festival will be honoring Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui with its Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award. The prolific helmer’s latest, “The Golden Era,” is closing the Venice festival and she will serve on that fest’s Orizzonti section. With a new programmer, Kim Young-woo, who will share responsibilities with festival co-founder Kim Ji-seok, Busan looks to dominate the region’s film market scene, with the Asian Film Market and Asian Project Market moving one day earlier to open on a Sunday this year. The festival’s parallel industry events will run Oct. 5-8.

Oct. 3-12
Sitges Film Festival

The 47th fantasy fest will focus on supernatural horror this year, with Gerard Johnstone’s “Housebound” from New Zealand, Aussie Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook,” Nicholas McCarthy’s “Home” and Ivan Kavanagh’s “The Canal.” Comedy and zombies also abound, with “Dead Snow 2,” “Premature,” “Goal of the Dead” and “Zombeavers” on the slate. Asian productions include “Live,” from Noboru Iguchi; Germany is repped by “Der Samurai”; and “The Curse of Downers Grove,” co-written by novelist Bret Easton Ellis, screens. Docs include “Doc of the Dead” and “That Guy Dick Miller,” and fest will also show classics like the restored print of William Friedkin’s 1977 “Sorcerer” and present its grand honorary award to Roland Emmerich. The second Phonetastic Sitges Mobile Film Festival unspools shorts made on mobile devices and is a juried competition.

Oct. 8-19
BFI London Film Festival
Now in its 58th year, the fest is looking to cement its strategic position in the award season calendar, and capitalize on the city’s high population of BAFTA
and AMPAS members. It will kick off with the new code-breaking drama “The Imitation Game,” distributed by the Weinstein Co. domestically; FilmNation is selling international rights. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, it will receive its European premiere at the London fest, and its stars and director Morten Tyldum are expected to attend the premiere, with simultaneous screenings also taking place at cinemas across the U.K.

Oct. 9-13
Hamptons Intl. Film Festival

Laid-back and popular with well-heeled locals and stars. Last year, Ralph Fiennes attended, not only as the star and director of “The Invisible Woman,” but also as a mentor to younger actors. The N.Y. event’s annual SummerDocs series of documentary programming will round out its 2014 slate with Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days
in Vietnam” and Jesse Moss’ “The Overnighters.” Alec Baldwin, who usually hosts SummerDocs events, will moderate conversations.

Oct. 14-25
Ghent Film Festival

Celebrating its 41st edition and increasingly regarded as the world’s premier fest for film music, Ghent will focus on French cinema and honor Gallic composer Francis Lai (“A Man and a Woman,” “Love Story”) with its lifetime achievement award. Fest opens with “The Loft,” Erik Van Looy’s American remake of the Belgian hit. Bret Easton Ellis will be president of the international jury, and the Belgian fest will also honor the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s classic “The Tramp,” and Italian master Federico Fellini with a major exhibition running through January.

Oct. 23-Nov. 1
Abu Dhabi Film Festival
Sanad, the fest’s development and post-production fund for Arab filmakers, awards grants of up to $20,000 for development and up to $60,000 for post-production. To date, the initiative has funded more than 100 projects as part of its mission to drive the development of a filmmaking hub in the UAE and wider Arab region. Recent pics using Sanad grants include “My Sweet Pepper Land,” from Hiner Saleem, and doc “A World Not Ours,” from Mahdi Fleifel. The festival has become the key spot for Arab filmmakers to unspool new works, and a festival that nutures new talent from the region.

Oct. 16-19
Hollywood Film Festival

Despite its glamorous name and location, the HFF has struggled to find its identity since its founding in 1997, but this year sees major changes. The fest has been acquired by film festival vet Jon Fitzgerald (he co-founded Slamdance in 1995 and directed the AFI, Santa Barbara, Abu Dhabi and Topanga fests) and his company CineCause. “We plan to show 50-60 films, many of them socially conscious documentary and narrative films,” says Fitzgerald, who was last year’s HFF director. The fest’s new approach will also integrate a summit, and stress education. “We’ll have a film about the water crisis, but also have presentations with experts and discussions about the subject. We’ll also be spotlighting a Celebrate Hollywood section and a new Horizons category dedicated to emerging first time filmmakers, so it’s a move back to my Slamdance roots.” What Fitzgerald isn’t looking for is the “big-budget Hollywood studio blockbuster. There are tons of those (kinds of festivals). My goal is to make this relevant and different, and show another side of Hollywood.”

Oct. 16-25
Rome Film Festival

After a date change and a budget cut, the fest will have a slimmer lineup during its ninth edition, and no international juries for most of its prizes. While 71 pics unspooled in Rome last year, there will be just 40 features screening this year in four sections: Cinema d’Oggi, featuring both emerging helmers and known names; Gala, for more mainstream movies with talent in tow; Mondo Genre, dedicated to genre pics; and Prospettive Italia presenting new trends in Italian cinema. The Rome nods will be awarded by the audience to works within sections that have been radically restructured, with the fest shifting from its stated ambition — to become a wide-ranging launching pad — to now having a particular focus on first and second works. And for industryites, the New Cinema Network project market and Business Street film mart will run Oct. 17-21.

Oct. 16-29
Sao Paulo Intl. Film Festival

Following in the footsteps of World Cup fever, the fest’s 38th edition will screen hundreds of features and shorts from around the world and honor several filmmaking legends with retrospectives (last year it was Stanley Kubrick, Lav Diaz and Eduardo Coutinho).

Oct. 23-31
Tokyo Film Festival
For its 27th edition, the fest will focus on animation, the most popular content in Japan, and feature two animated features making world premieres: Disney’s “Big Hero 6” and comic adaptation “Parasyte,” from helmer Takashi Yamazaki. There’s also the sidebar tribute to Hideaki Anno, the animator behind the “Evangelion” series, among other films, and an acknowledged apprentice of animation icon Hayao Miyazaki.

Oct. 25-Nov. 1
Savannah Film Festival

The Savannah College of Art and Design launched the festival 17 years ago and now attracts some 40,000 cinephiles to the coastal city in Georgia. One of the few festivals launched and run by a university, the Savannah festival programs a competition selection and as well as shorts, panels and other cinematic arts programming. Each year the festival fetes an industry creative — previous honorees include Alexander Payne, Jeremy Irons, Stan Lee, Ian McKellen and Michael Douglas.

Oct. 31-Nov. 9
Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival

The 55th fest is dedicated to independent cinema, and promises films from all over the world, cinematic surprises, distinguished guests, tributes, master classes, round-table discussions and parallel events on the scenic Greek coast.

Nov. 5-16
Stockholm Film Festival

The Swedish city will celebrate the festival’s 25th edition and will screen a large number of international productions to enthusiastic auds; it also includes juried competitions. Stockholm also honors a filmmaker with its Lifetime Achievement Award, with past recipients including Quentin Tarantino, Roman Polanski, David Lynch and Dennis Hopper.
web: stockholmfilmfestival.se

Nov. 6-13
AFI Fest

The American Film Institute’s festival celebrates the best from established helmers and emerging talent in the epicenter of filmmaking, Hollywood. Fest also features red-carpet galas, special screenings and tributes. Last year’s edition was packed with award season contenders from the U.S. and abroad, plus sidebars dedicated to new directors, genre films and shorts. Festgoers can also expect events that go beyond screenings, like its Conversations series (last year Steve McQueen was on the agenda) and the Young Hollywood Roundtable.
web: afi.com

Nov. 6-27
Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

The largest in Taiwan, it is an important showcase for regional films. Concurrently with the festival is the Golden Horse Awards (Nov. 22), a benchmark for local and Chinese cinema, plus a project promotion market (Nov. 18-20). Last year Ang Lee headed the awards jury.

Nov. 12-16
Napa Valley Film Festival
A celebration of new film, food and wine in the Northern California towns of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Now in its 4th year, the festival features more than 100 independent films and studio sneak previews screening in 12 venues throughout the four “walkable villages.” There’s also special events with visiting filmmakers and celebrities.

Dec. 10-17
Dubai Film Festival

Programming the best of Arab cinema as well as high-profile Hollywood films, Dubai usually draws stars from around the world. Dubai features a project market, which also oversees Enjaaz, a production funding initiative for shorts.

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