- Federico Fellini's La dolce vita, Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura, and Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers spearhead the European art cinema's modern turn.
- Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature
- Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, is one of a cycle of British "Kitchen Sink" films dealing with everyday working-class life.
- Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Michael Powell's Peeping Tom break new ground for representations of violence and criminal pathology.
- First ruby laser is built by Theodore Maiman.
- First successful hologram is produced.
- EG&G develops an extreme depth underwater camera for U.S. Navy.
- American drive-in theatre attendance peaks, then begins to decline as a new exhibition trend makes its appearance in the latter half of the decade: the shopping mall multiplex.
- Cinema, youth, and political cultures meet to produce several "new waves" around the world, most notably in Brazil, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latin America, Poland, and Yugoslavia.
- Commercial colour film is perfected.
- Eastman Kodak introduces faster Kodachrome II colour film.
- Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad, is a touchstone of reflexive, cerebral art cinema.
- Chronicle of a Summer by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, an experiment in collaborative ethnography and cinéma verité techniques.
- New York premiere of John Cassavetes's Shadows, a gritty, improvisational film exploring the theme of "passing for white" against the backdrop of white racism.
- In Hong Kong, the Shaw Brothers (Shaoshi) builds Movietown, a 46-acre complex of studios, sets, laboratory facilities, and dormitories.
- Notable films include Blake Edwards's Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’s West Side Story.
- Also in History: First manned space flight.
- Terence Young's Dr. No, stars Sean Connery as Cold War superspy James Bond.
- Glauber Rocha's Barravento, is a foundation work for Brazil's Cinema Nôvo movement.
- New York Filmmaker's Co-op is organized by Jonas Mekas to support the production, distribution, and exhibition of experimental and avant-garde film.
- After a decade as Hollywood's reigning starlet, Marilyn Monroe dies of a drug overdose.
- David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia stars Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif.
- Stan Brakhage's Dog Star Man, emblematic of a cycle of lyric films aiming to record the act of seeing, the flow of imagination, and the sensation of emotion.
- The major Hollywood studios are bought by and become subsidiaries of American conglomerates.
- The film director as superstar: Federico Fellini's 8½
- Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembene's Borom Sarret is the first indigenous black African film.
- William Asher's Beach Party, is the first in a series of teen-oriented beach films starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.
- Foundation of the Swedish Film Institute, revolutionary in its system of awards to quality films.
- Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds
- President Kennedy is shot to death in Dallas by a sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald.
- Also in History: Racial clashes, civil rights demonstrations, mass march in Washington
- Civil Right Demonstration, Birmingham by Charles Moore
- 126 Cartridge / Instamatic Cameras are introduced.
- Polaroid introduces instant color film.
- Police arrest theatre owners on obscenity charges in Los Angeles and New York City for screening Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures and Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising, two scandalous works of the American underground.
- Popular films: Robert Stevenson’s Mary Poppins, George Cukor’s My Fair Lady, Blake Edwards’s The Pink Panther.
- Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, is a stylised science-fiction adventure set in the future and shot entirely on location in Paris.
- Introduction of Super 8, a new amateur format.
- David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago
- Robert Wise’s The
Sound of Music.
- Also in History: Vietnam War.
- Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, emblematic of pop art cinema and of "Swinging London".
- Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers relocates neorealism in Third World struggles.
- Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls, a two-screen film with random reel order, is the first mainstream success of the American underground.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the first American film released with a rating ("SM"–Suggested for Mature Audience).
- Mike Nichols's The Graduate and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde garner huge ticket sales by appealing to young anti-establishment audiences.
- Wavelength, a famous Structural film by Canadian Michael Snow.
- Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star in the last of nine films they made together in Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
- Also in History: Protests over Vietnam reach climax when 35,000 demonstrate outside the Pentagon.
- European art films link social with sexual revolutions: Vilgot Sjöman's I Am Curious–Yellow, Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema, Dušan Makavejev's WR: Mysteries of the Organism.
- Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, is a science fiction film of great technical accomplishment and a visionary quality without precedent.
- Argentinean filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino's Hour of the Furnaces and Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment, key works of the New Latin American cinema.
- The Motion Picture Producers of America (MPPA, formerly MPPDA) introduces a new four-point ratings system ranging from "G" to "X" to replace the now defunct Production Code.
- Student demonstrations in Czechoslovakia, France, Japan, Spain, the United States, and West Germany generate a wave of politically engaged collective filmmaking.
- Launching of the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, an important festival for Arab cinema held biennially in Tunis.
- Also in History: Assassination of Martin Luther King.
- Also in History: Tet offensive staggers Vietnam.
- Vietnam Execution by Eddie Adams (Viet Cong officer killed).
- Robert Kennedy Moments After He Was Shot by Bill Eppridge.
- Photograph of Earth from the moon.
- Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider criticise the American myth of individual freedom and appeal to a growing anti-Vietnam War protest movement; John Schlesinger's X-rated Midnight Cowboy wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Launching of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO) in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso.
- Also in History: Woodstock Festival.
- Man’s First Moon Walk by Neil Armstrong.