The International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) is a Paris housed collection of film groups from around the world that helps producers formulate policies in areas that affect films, such as media regulation and technology standardization processes.  But it is also in charge of supervising international film festivals.

Only 14 films have been given a competitive status by the FIAPF, labeling them as the most important and prestigious film festivals in the world. The are also known as category one or 'A' festivals. You might note the lack of some famous film festivals, such as Sundance, but that is because they are focused on independent films rather than on the compition between submitted films.

Berlin International Film Festival

Generally considered to be the largest publicly attended film fest worldwide, the event takes place in Berlin every February. Over 400 films are shown each year, and they compete for prizes known as Golden or Silver Bears. Held at the same time is the European Film Market (EFM), a professional trade event for the behind the scenes jobs of the film industry allowing producers, buyers, financiers, and distributes to meet. The EFM ads a high-profile to the Berlin film fest, and it has thus developed a rather cosmopolitan character.

Cairo International Film Festival

Not only the first international film festival in the Arab world, it’s the only one in the Arab world and Africa to be recognized by the FIAPF.  It was founded riding the crest of the success of Egypt’s cinema in the 70s and rose up as proof that a world-class film festival didn’t have to be in Europe.  As such, the public is very invested in this festival.  Most Eqyptians’ experiences with foreign films are US  blockbusters and this festival serves as a venue to other films as well as an artistic, political, and cultural forum.

Cannes Film Festival 

Probably the most glitzy film festival in the world, it is also the most prestigious.  Hosted in Cannes Film Festival LogoCredit: on the French Rivera, this festival has been going strong since 1946. Cannes is known for it’s art films, and the opportunity for a foreign countries to determine what is internationally known as a film style from that country.  The Golden Palm is given to the best film of the competition, and independent theaters across the globe then pick it up to show to local audiences.

International Film Festival of India 

While the first festival was held in 1952, it wasn’t until 1975 that this film festival became an annual tradition. The largest film festival in India, organizers have described it as ‘India’s Cannes’, it’s built around the idea that the entire world is a single large family. Films shown here cannot have been shown in India previously, unless produced in the country. 

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Held in the Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary is one of the oldest film festivals in the world.  Founded in 1946 to highlight the then recently nationalized Czechoslovak film industry with the idea to simple show films, the feature film competition is now the core of the festival.

Locarno International Film Festival

Also founded in 1946, this Swiss film festival is known for it’s open-air screening place in the Piazza Grande.  It can sit 8,000 spectators who watch films on a screen 26x14 meters.  Locarno is known as a festival of discovery, where new trends and talents are found and launched with successes.

Mar del Plata Film Festival

This festival is the oldest in the America’s and the sole representation of Latin America in the FIAPF listings.  It wasn’t originally a competitive festival, but like Karlovy Vary developed into one over time. While it hasn’t been continues run since it’s founding, Argentina had some political issues and didn't want to compete with a festival in Brazil, it has been running steadily since 1996 after a 25 year break.

Montreal World Film Festival

One of Canada’s oldest film festivals, it’s still fairly young compared to many others on this list.  It was only founded in 1977.  It has a truly international focus, unlike the Toronto International Film Festival.  Despite it’s international status, most of the festival’s attendees are local film-goers.

Moscow International Film Festival 

The top prize here is a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon, a tribute to Moscow’s coat of arms.  Founded in 1959, it aligned nicely with the influx of directors at the time of the Thaw. It still mirrors the social and political changes Russia goes through today, which just serves as an attraction to guests and ensure emotionally charged films among its program.

San Sebastian International Film Festival

This festival shows 200 to 250 films each year and takes place in Spain. The festival prides itself on it’s accessibility, and even won an award June 2011 do to its efforts to make venues handicap accessible.

Shanghai International Film Festival

One of the largest film festivals in Asia, it’s also the youngest.  The first festival wasn’t held until 1993, but it quickly grew and was certified by the FIAPF since its beginning. The festival has a special section meant to display student films and allow them to communicate with the masters of the medium.

Tokyo International Film Festival

Founded in 1985, this festival takes full advantage of the busy city it’s set in. It takes place every October and has come to play an integral role in the film industry and cultural scene in Japan. 

Venice Film FestivalVenice Film Festival LogoCredit:

Founded in 1932, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest in the world.  The coveted prize here is the Golden Lion. Not simply a stand-alone festival, it’s part of the Venice Biennale, a large exhibition and festival of contemporary arts.  A such, the Venice Film Fest is more than a film competition but an example of all the medium has to offer.

Warsaw International Film Festival

This festival is also host to the International Federation of Film Critics awards for enterprising filmmaking in Central and Eastern Europe. While the festival was founded in 1985, it wasn’t added to the FIAPF list of accredited competitive film festivals until 2009, making it the newest addition to the list.