A film festival is a place where the luck of some film opens a new door towards success and some film might not get the light. Generally, it happens in any specific place and the film-related people come together to create the network. It’s a rostrum for launching new films or any films which are generally cannot be seen in the mainstream film stage. It’s a perfect place for a combination of fresh talents and experienced makers. In Europe, Rotterdam, Berlin, Rain dance and Cannes all make unique programming choices that distinguish each festival from the other. The film executives hinge on the festival programmer opinion and films are filtered with an immediate feedback. “Perhaps, the only accurate way to describe international film festivals is that they are like open bazaars where multiple geopolitical, socio-cultural, economic and aesthetic agendas intersect.” (Udden, 2016)
A film festival’s mantle is to pledge an audience of honor-bound filmgoers to view the unseen work. Distributors can grab this opportunity to invigorate propaganda for their film before it goes to the mainstream commercial disclosure. It’s a place for originating new talents for the acquisition executives as there they can find the podium. This writing is in conformity with the role of festivals in the overall film industry alongside the relevance of launching careers. “The festival space was a success from the beginning and film festivals mushroomed in Europe. Film professionals traveled to these events and soon discovered the value of the festivals beyond their function as showcases for national cinemas.” (Valck, 2007) And now there are around 10,000 different types of film festivals all over the world through only 3000 of them are active. This shows the relevance and importance are still there in this digital age.
“Several scholars, such as Gideon Bachmann (2000), make a distinction between “wholesale” and “retail” film festivals. “Wholesalers” act primarily as markets for sales agents to sell films. “Retailers,” on the other hand, are essentially exhibitions for audiences.” (Fairbanks, 2016) Wholesale festivals are for those who want their film to be distributed gregariously, on the contrary, “retail” festivals focus more towards pertaining to a local area. Mark Peranson (2008) explained the types of film festivals differently which is a collateral mechanism of film distribution. Business festival and audience festival differentiate between the activities of distributors, cost, competition and so on.
Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Sundance are the examples of business festivals. These festivals have a megalithic allowance, utmost contention and business market where buyers and sales agents, press, critics attend. Audience Festivals are small-scaled and tend to run in an extensive city or town such as The Byron Bay Festival in Australia. These festivals are unbolted to the general public and the show reckon on the sale of tickets to the general audience. But both types of festivals are the customary place to go for the filmmakers for networking, finding opportunities and offers. “However, since film festivals vary in their scales, goals, constituents, and content, their relationships to the public spheres also change depending on events and contexts.” (Wong, 2011)
The attendance of audience is as much crucial as organizing the film festival properly. For an efficacious festival, understanding the audience segments and planning the festival according to their taste and demand is important. Cognizance of the festival audience allows the festival organizers to have an impact on the whole film industry. Mosaic synthesizes the festival audiences in pieces by their mind-sets.
Filmmakers create their art piece so that they can be appreciated by the viewers. Film festival gives the tag to any particular film and that can be tagged for any publicity of the film. The moment a film is screened in a film festival, that film will come under critics or appraisal which can give the instant feedback ahead before the release of any CD/DVD/any other media. This good or feedback can be used as publicity for the film. This can be shown in the trailer before the film starts that this film has been nominated or awarded by some festivals. “Certainly, many of the festivals highlighted in the volume, like the New York African Film Festival, are non-competitive festivals which distributors do not attend. However, as Zoe¨ Elton, director of the Mill Valley Film Festival, states, ”occasionally sales agents won’t let their films go to a festival that has no competition.” Distribution and sales thus play a crucial role in film festival programming, for better or worse.”(Jeffrey, 2012)
“Festivals are an important exhibition platform for independent productions because most features never reach the commercial screen. According to the independent cinematography office, only about ten percent of feature films produced each year see the inside of the cinema.” (Fairbanks, 2016) For example, Paranormal Activity was a low budget independent film. When director Oren Peli screened this film in Screamfest festival, then the president of the production of the Paramount Picture Adam Goodman watched it and decided to give this film a new look under the umbrella of Paramount Picture production. Not every independent film can get this much light as Paranormal Activity. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl, arguably the best-reviewed film to premiere at Sundance this year, unfortunately, appears to be suffering a similar fate.” (Smith, 2015)
In the topography of film festivals, sales agents get the opportunity to systemize the distribution channels. Festivals work concurrently with distribution, though the distribution of the film might not get the result straightway, the unprecedented option can make those channels ultimately assist to sell the film. Not only for this film which has been screened but also meeting the contemporaries can give the wings to find co-worker for the future as people who work in festivals are well-hitched to take the film in the right direction. “This may be problematic for low-budget festival organizations, as sales agents ask for screening fees and revenues from ticket sales.” (Fairbanks, 2016) It’s not always easy to find a distributor whose vision always tournament with the filmmaker, but the positive wave is finding out a perfect distributor channel is not slender to the big festivals like Sundance, Toronto, and Cannes.
The examples of boosting up a career after attending film festivals are innumerable. “When you go to a festival like Toronto, you’re impressed by what a huge world your film is entering into,” says the Notting Hill director. (BBC News, 2013) This is the field to showcase the film as well gaining experiences through getting the chance of volunteering, meeting with agents, distributors, filmmakers, new talents. Also attending and screening own film in any festival can be added to resume. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Awards, Austin Film Festival AA, Chicago International Film Festival BC AA, Delta Moon Student Film Festival, Feel Good Film Festival, International Student Film Festival Hollywood- these are the names of the festivals where students or new filmmakers can submit their films and can start a new career. Steven Soderbergh who directed his debut film, “Sex, Lies and Videotape” won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. This award changed his life of having a great success and the engine of his career geared up. Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen), Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) are those filmmakers whose career elevated after amalgamating with festivals.
The process of submitting films in the festivals are mostly online these days. Websites like “Withoutabox”, “FilmFreeway”- give the opportunity to find out festivals according to the criteria and expenses. But the drawback is there has to be the careful use of these websites. There are so much money related and if it is free then has to be more careful. The standard commission rate is 8.5% but sometimes festivals do agree at a lower rate, which might cause the frustration among the filmmakers. Film festival and filmmakers, both element in film industry act for each other. The new filmmakers or experienced one come forward to gain reward, feedback, publicity and for the film festival organizers are getting more and more importance. “Film festival organizers may similarly develop a film market or distribution arm in an attempt to gain more business-related film industry attention.” (Fischer, 2013) Some film festivals reward the filmmakers who just attend the festival to attract more entries. The Oscar is the most prestigious award for filmmakers but some small festivals award filmmakers to appreciate and inspire them to make more great films. The films which been awarded can get more publicity and attention.
James Wan’s first “Saw (2004)” movie is an egotistical thriller and after showing it in Sundance film festival, this film came to the mainstream which made around $100 million and till now seven sequels. “The obvious argument in support of film festivals is to point out the way they can launch films to success.” (Martin, 2016) The Blair Witch Project, Moon, The Napoleon Dynamite and so many independent and mainstream films have seen the shine of success after attending film festivals. The obviousness of the opulence for every film is not always attainable. Once Upon a Time in America (1983) was a 229-minute-long film which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival but after that, it was pierced to 139 minutes and this film couldn’t take a step in the mainstream. “Pauline Kael famously complained: “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a worse case of mutilation.” (Fennell, 2014)
“The festivals served as meeting points for film professionals. Some festivals followed the example of the Cannes Film Market and established their own markets. The business conducted at these markets was not limited to the festival program and was equally interesting to the professionals from Hollywood and Europe, as well as from other continents.” (Valck, 2007) This important reason influenced people to create more competition with new two players Netflix and Amazon. Netflix and Amazon producing their original films and contents for television, which supplementing the distribution process. Also, filmmakers who want to get larger audiences are preferring them as an easy gate. Such as a drama by Kenneth Longergan “Manchester by the Sea” was taken by Amazon and they spent $10 million on the rights. Film festival organizers desperately want to uphold their necessity in the film industry. Which led to growing some online film festivals such as Festigious International Film Festival, New York Film Awards, Hollywood Just4Shorts Monthly Film Competition, Direct Monthly Online Film Festival. To bring more people together in the film festivals new entrepreneurs launched many free festivals like Ae Art House Film Festival, Anibar Animation Festival, AniFest, Athens ANIMFEST, Bath Film Festival and so on.
The film “Okja (2017)” which is directed by Bong Joon-ho, got four minutes standing ovation by the spectators after screening the film in Cannes Film Festival. The appreciation says about the film had some potential. Although this film hasn’t been released in the mainstream theatres but only streaming on Netflix. “According to The Hollywood Reporter, most of the crowd’s cheers were reserved for the film’s young star, South Korean actor Ahn Seo-hyun.” (Stolworthy, 2017) Major, mini-major, city festival, genre film festival- can be identified as big film festivals. Mom and pop festivals are small ones. Their activity and purpose are almost similar but they are different for the prestige gain and publicity for the filmmakers.
The film festival is a two-way sword. The triumphant depends on the way of the use. “Film festivals can help or harm your film. Mistakes can cripple its launch and limit its distribution, including applying to festivals too early, targeting the wrong festivals, not having the right festival team, and making bad distribution deals.” (Broderick, 2014) Strategically, choosing right festival and distribution partner is more than important and that leads to a win-win situation. A strategy that goes with the filmmaker’s goals is important to maximize every methodology that makes a film fruitful such as proper distribution, publicity, networking and so on. If not, then the film may undergo cut-and-dried release where every film is fit into the same distribution channel. But the propensity of the film festival to institute a new independent or mainstream is incontrovertible.