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Film Festivals

Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    Film Festivals
    Book Description:

    Movies, stars, auteurs, critics, and the sheer excitement of cinema come together in film festivals as quintessential constellations of art, business, and glamour. Yet, how well do we actually understand the forces and meanings that these events embody?

    Film Festivalsoffers the first comprehensive overview of the history, people, films, and multiple functions of the festival world. From Sundance to Hong Kong, from the glitter of Cannes to edgier festivals that challenge boundaries or foster LGBTQ cultural production, film festivals celebrate art, promote business, bring cinema to diverse audiences, and raise key issues about how we see our world. Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong situates festivals within changing global practices of film, including their important ties to both Hollywood and independent cinema. She explores how these events have become central in the construction of cinema knowledge as well as the behind-the-scene mechanics of finance, distribution, and evaluation. By linking general structures and connections to specific films and auteurs, Wong addresses the components and creation of film festivals that continue to reshape filmmaking as art and business.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5110-4
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    Film festivals attract widespread global attention as glittering showcases for films and people. Yet, they also constitute vital nodes for global film industries, businesses, institutions, and information. Festivals provide places in which multiple agents negotiate local, national, and supranational relations of culture, power, and identity. Ultimately, they are crucial centers for the development of film knowledge and film practices: festivals and the people who create and re-create them thus shape what films we as audiences and scholars will see, what films we respect or neglect, and often, how we read such cinematic works. Hence, the study of film festivals allows...

  5. 1 History, Structure, and Practice in the Festival World
    (pp. 29-64)

    Film festivals represent the ultimate celebrations of cinema, not only as a mass medium, but also as collections of creative texts and engaged participants within a larger global framework. Together with institutions like film archives, film museums, cinémathèques, ciné clubs, film societies, and film classes in universities, they constitute a specific stratum of Miriam Hansen’s “discursive horizons.”¹ Hansen’s ideas, which she applied to early cinema, situate the discourses of all cinematic practices within others that refract many processes and consequences of modernity as they participate in them. Film festivals, in turn, form one complex component of this set of discourses...

  6. 2 The Films of the Festivals
    (pp. 65-99)

    While festivals bring together multiple, divergent structures of art, business, politics, spectatorship, and space, their primary building blocks remain simple and constant: films themselves. Films constitute the raison d’être of the festivals, although they are linked in special ways to the filmmaker, who is identified as the primary artist/creator within this world. In fact, festivals have solidified a special relationship between directors and films; within the festival context, it is difficult to separate the films from the auteur. With concerted efforts, auteurs and festivals have developed in a symbiotic relationship embodied by film, mediated by business concerns. New directors create...

    (pp. 100-128)

    In the last chapter, I explored festival films as textual objects in order to elucidate features and structures that loosely mark them as a group. Textual examination of film, however, is always incomplete and can only provide partial meaning for the practices of festival films. These texts demand coordinated or competing efforts by different parties and contexts to endow them with meanings and values. This chapter thus complements the last with a focus on the extratextual elements of festival films. In particular, I move beyond films as texts to look at people and institutions of filmmaking and their roles in...

  8. 4 Film Festivals and Film Industries
    (pp. 129-158)

    While film festivals play pivotal roles both in defining a shared canon of “great” cinema and in adding cultural value to films, they also are significant because they create nodes of global business in which films circulate as commodities. For some, this marketing function denotes antagonistic goals within the festival world,¹ while others respond that however strong cinephilia may be, films mean little if they are not seen. Circulation, even if films move through a festival circuit, remains rarefied and economically problematic. Since their origins, however, film festivals actually have been associated intensely with national film industries, visibility, and distribution....

  9. 5 Festivals as Public Spheres
    (pp. 159-189)

    While my previous chapters primarily have engaged festivals through the art and business of film, they have paid attention at the same time to the human elements of the film festival. This includes those people involved in making films, those who evaluate them, and those who sell them, as well as those who organize events, socialize, and watch films. Together, these people constitute the crowds and the buzz of festivals, the local and wider imagined global community of cinephilia. And the buzz itself—praise, critique, scandal, and inspiration—constitutes the stuff of an important public sphere, or of a set...

  10. 6 The Hong Kong International Film Festival as Cultural Event
    (pp. 190-222)

    Throughout this work, I have dissected festivals into varied components—history and function, film and aesthetics, auteurs and critical knowledge, production and business, audiences, debates, and impacts. While all of these perspectives map festivals as a living, multilayered system with complex and changing individual units, festivals also embody intense convergent experiences of people, places, and film. Hence, to bring the system into final focus, I turn to a systematic discussion of a single film festival—the Hong Kong International Film Festival. I begin with a synthesis from my field notes in 2007 that conveys how this event transpired for viewers...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 223-228)

    As I finish this manuscript in 2011, echoes from Cannes have filtered through artistic and commercial worlds. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’sUncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives(Loong Boonmee raleuk chat) (2010), despite the tongue-twisting quality of the director’s name for many non-Thai audiences, has been screened at the Sydney Film Festival and has been scheduled for other major regional festivals, including São Paulo, Munich, New York, and Tokyo. Meanwhile, it has secured distribution deals with Germany (Movienet), “France (Pyramide Distribution), Spain (Karma Films), Italy (BIM Distribuzione), and the U.K. (New Wave Films), and many others.”¹ In New York City...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 229-262)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-286)
  14. Filmography
    (pp. 287-300)
  15. Index
    (pp. 301-318)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 319-320)