Re: [Frameworks] Current situation with Film Festivals

From: email suppressed
Date: Thu Feb 17 2011 - 21:28:15 PST

> However, it was not that long ago, that Ann
> Arbor had 4-500 entries, not thousands. The film festivals have not expanded to
> accomodate those numbers of entries is what I am trying to say.

I can only speak from my experiences, but festivals can only expand within a limited space (both physically and temporally), if a festival is in a cinema the chances are that the cinema need their screens for other festivals the following week and for regular screenings and so on, also the volunteers run out of time and the staff (if there are any) need to get some sleep. The festival of which I am program director runs 10 days, to make the festival 'expand' is a continual quest, but invariably limitations arise. On weekends the talks start at 10:30am, the final late night ends at 1:30am, then there's cleaning up before the following day when it all starts again. Normally we're up five hours later, making sure a guest gets to an interview or a print has arrived.

What has expanded is the NUMBER of festivals, so filmmakers still have an opportunity.

> I realize with
> most festivals its the luck of the draw so to speak as to what films are
> screened.

All the festivals I have worked with have programmers who are dedicated and passionate about what they do. It's a disservice to refer to "luck of the draw", films may not be rejected because they are not liked but because of the wider programme, as a curate my job is in part to make sure that the whole event (or if I am programming just a part of a festival a strand) works and maintains a coherence and energy.

It's also worth pointing out that most festivals won't screen something that has already played in that town / state / whatever, so even if a festival gets 1000 entries, if 20 have played before then in many cases they may be rejected because festivals and audiences want to see new works.

> However, with the growing numbers of films entered, should not the
> festivals grow with it at the same time either by having more showings, more
> days of exhibition, etc.

As I have said above this is, broadly, not possible. Not only are they limits in terms of venue and volunteers, but if a film festival lasts - say 2 weeks - audiences will get turned off, they also have other things to do and, often, limited time and money to come every night.

> Most recently I was accepted by a festival, only to learn that they do not show
> 16mm film and if I spent money on an expensive transfer they would show it.

I can't comment on this as I don't know the circumstances, but I would suggest that if a festival was renting a screen in a multiplex then the venue may not have a 16mm projector. If a festival is run by enthusiastic people who aren't techniacally minded they may not know anybody with a 16mm or have the budget for a tech.

Some thoughts


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