What Is A Film Festival?

By Carlos Eton
University of the Virgin Islands
Student Coordinator, Caribbean Cinematic & Arts Festival 

Film festival (n)

An organized, extended presentation of films in a specific location (in our case–ZOOM).





  • Some festivals focus on a specific filmmaker or genre (e.g., film noir) or subject matter (e.g., horror film festivals). In our case—the Caribbean.
  • A number of film festivals specialize in short films of a defined maximum length.  (See CCAF page on categories and time lengths).
  • The best-known film festivals are the Venice Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival.




So … What exactly is a film festival, anyway?


Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what a film festival is.  To be candid, when I went to my first film festival, I had no idea what a film festival was.  Not a freakin’ clue.  🙂


Was it some sort of formal event based on Greek and Roman traditions?  (Never mind that they didn’t have cameras).  And if it was, where do I get a toga?  Or was it an opportunity for my friends to punk me like last year?  (I didn’t know the guy was a real police officer!)


Fortunately for me, my friends put my mind at ease.  No, it’s not some sort of human sacrifice ritual in which I would be the offering.  It did not require me to visit Area 51.  It did not require me to surrender my passport.  


And, no, it wasn’t going to be painful like waiting for hours on the phone for technical support.  Good thing, because the battery charge on my phone was already low and screaming at me for a recharge.  (Siri was in a bad mood that day.)


A film festival is truly an amazing experience.



It is an organized event that features films and audio screenings to be enjoyed by audiences and to provide an opportunity for unknown filmmakers to get their movies in front of real audiences and to have their work reviewed by professional critics.


It is a showcase for tomorrow’s filmmakers, producers, and musicians, staged by universities, private organizations, governments, and film clubs to foster creativity, passion, and entertainment.


Although the people who enter their work in film festivals compete for prizes, they are motivated by their audiences.  They work hard to craft their films and music to entertain us.  To move us.  To make us laugh.  To make us cry.  To make us think!


So I proudly invite you to join us for the Caribbean Cinematic and Arts festival to enjoy this year’s spectacular films and audio presentations.


Oh, before I forget … this year’s festival is online via Zoom.  So you can watch it in your own personal style (no need to rent a tux or formal gown—besides, you know you want to wear pajamas and beach clothes).  But feel free to wear a toga if you like.  🙂


And don’t forget the popcorn!  


See you at the festival!