Most people have heard of famous film festivals around the world. These annual events draw celebrities from far and near. Average people watch to see what movies will be praised, which will be criticized, and what celebrities will show up. There are even whole television programs devoted to what the stars wear when attending these iconic movie marathons. For instance, the Cannes Film Festival has been in existence since 1947, and it’s not even the first festival centered on movies. The first of this type of event was held in Venice in 1932.

These days there are film festivals held all around the globe for all types of iWonder
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purposes. Though the most well-known are certainly the ones in Cannes, Toronto, Utah (the Sundance Film Festival), Venice, Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Berlin, small and large marathon events devoted to movies, television, documentaries, and short films are happening each year in small town and large cities. Events like these can be designed around a type of movie (short films, for example), a theme (love or justice, perhaps), a famous director or movie star (i.e., classic films starring James Stewart), or genre (horror film festivals are quite popular). Some are programmed for the pure enjoyment of watching, others to inspire the support of a cause, and still others to spark debate and educate.

If a film festival is showing original movies, the organizational committee will often require a fee from the movie maker for the submission of the film and there will be limitations of length or type according to the theme of the festival. However, there are many festivals that waive fees for certain film makers. This is common when a festival is looking to support movie makers in a certain region, age, or genre. Film festivals may follow movies with discussion panels of experts on the subject, stars, directors, authors, or the real life people a true-story movie was based on. Round table discussions are often meant to spark thought processes or educate the attendees on an issue of social concern.

Institutions of higher education are sponsors for some of the smaller film festivals that have education and discussion of culturally relevant topics as a goal of the event. These festivals might mix new and old movies and documentaries along a single theme. It has been said that movies stay with the members of an audience far longer than any sermon ever has. This way of connecting ideas and education to a relevant media to this generation offers thought-provoking experiences to students and life-long learners.

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