Official Artist
Kenji Lui
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
532,891 views| 228  Posts

Is film festival as important as it used to be?

I've just read an article and the writer (who is also a filmmaker and film festival programmer) questions the existing value of film festival as the technology of streaming video is becoming more and more advanced.

While I don't totally agree, it is true that if your sole purpose is to reach a wide audience, film festival is no way comparable to streaming video venue like youtube. Say if you get into a film festival, you usually have 3~4 screenings the most, and even if all screenings are sold out, consider the average seat numbers of a theater is 200~, you get 800~ audiences the most. But then if you put your work on youtube and with some appropriate viral strategy, you can get 800~ viewers in a day, or I mean, in less than an hour...

But certainly, we all know a prestigious film festival is much more than just about viewership. What filmmakers care most is that name attached to it. That is, if your film become an official selection at Cannes or Sundance, what it means isn't just about how many people are going to see the film, but that the eventual benefit and credit it brings. For instance, if you want to look for investment or work partner for your next project, it's undeniably much easier to get people to talk to you if they know you are a Cannes alumni. Especially when you have to understand that people in the film business are all busy folks. If you are nothing, no matter how talented you are, people will not look down on you, as they simply won't even want to spend their valuable time to look at you or your work...

Another biggest attraction of film festival is without doubt the film market, especially for indies, film market is always an important channel for finding distribution. The parties and events at a film fest also allow you to meet with fellow filmmakers, distributors and possible investors for future projects. It is something a streaming video at a virtual world can't achieve.

So that's why I think film festival still has its own value. NEVERTHELSS, it only applies to the big names like the ones I mentioned above, Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Berlin, etc. As for the minor ones, I do agree with the writer that the advance of streaming video is going to create a deadly impact on them.

Take the above benefits a film festival can provide as an example, if a small film fest happens at a remote town in an unknown part of the country, you can pretty much expect no distributor will be willing to attend, and with the usually ridiculously high submission fee (they rely on the fee to survive), it makes it difficult to attract submission too (with so many film fests in the world, why would a filmmaker want to submit to one that is small, with few attraction and high fee while he can achieve the same level or even bigger success on the web?). So no distributor, no high quality film, how to get audience in? Ok, so no audience too, then it doesn't require any calculation to conclude the final destiny of this kind of film fest.

So I would foresee that more and more mid-small size film fest will fold up in the future as streaming video become a more and more viable outlet for indies to show... unless those fests are willing to spend some time to explore any possibilities to incorporate this new technology into their obsolete structure...

about 11 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Mariejost 26 dsc00460
Read my article about Johnnie To and his rise to prominence in the West. Without the film festival circuit, he would still be virtually unknown outside of HK (except to a handful of fanboys). http://www.hkcinemagic.com/fr/pdf/The-Rise-of-Johnnie-To-Marie-Jost-HKCinemagic-PDF-version.pdf
about 11 years ago


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