From the producer Xia Wen: Young film festivals inject fresh blood into the film industry

At the international film festivals, young filmmakers are becoming a new landscape that cannot ignore. In particular, in recent years, the performance of young filmmakers from China at the film festivals has been even more remarkable.

Recently, I interviewed a young Chinese producer Xia Wen. She has participated in many film festivals including the China International Film Festival London, the Beijing International Film Festival and the Beijing Youth Film Festival. As a participant in the film industry and a witness to the film festival, she is very experienced.

 

 

3 Things That Prove You’re a Hardcore Cinephile Even If You Think You’re Not

“…if the use of a new item of technology is INITIALLY optional, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional, because the new technology tends to change society in such a way that it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to function without using that technology”

Theodore Kaczynski

 

The effects of the digital revolution on film festivals generate mixed feelings. Let’s wear the lenses of a fanatic cinephile to get a hint of what’s going on:

Movie Theater Cinephile GIF                                                              Giphy.com

You Consider “Netflix” a Dirty Word

Films are meant to be shot….well, in film, right? And they are supposed to be made for the old big screen, correct? The fact that most films are nowadays being digitally shot and screened using digital projectors is already nerve-wracking enough for your cinephile self.

Don’t mention Netflix, which is just too much to take… More so, when you inevitably find yourself watching features on your mobile with headphones firmly plugged in. Oh, the guilt!

Creepy Thats My Fetish GIF by NETFLIX .                   Giphy.com

You know video streaming has taken over as the prime film distribution channel, making the cinematic experience banal and empowering companies like Netflix that use    Orwellian algorithms and deeply disturbing methods to gather and process massive amounts of information about people.

You fear Netflix is going to kill Cinema. And rightly so, it seems only a matter of time films start looking less cinematic (even more!) and notably youtube-ish and Netflix starts releasing these at the same time as they are released in theatres!

Sad Bbc GIF                     Giphy.com

But just as television did not kill radio, film festivals and cinemas probably aren’t going to die out any time soon. They will keep transforming, adapting and also complementing with the digitalisation phenomenon, offering unique experiences that spectators can’t get from their phones and laptops.

It’s already happening, cinematic experiences are being enhanced by appealing to the magic of the analog. In an attempt to get the viewers out of their homes and away from their digital devices, filmmakers, cinemas and festivals are celebrating experiences on the grandiose 70mm format or the nostalgic 16 mm, ultimately catering to a niche, the cinephiles, not to the mass.

Film Festivals are your Cinema Paradiso

To resist the dictatorship of Netflix, and its silent algorithm-driven censorship, cinephiles find in the Films festivals’ tastemaking an oasis in the desert.

french cinema GIF                                                               Giphy.com

Arguably, cinema is the most “social” of the art forms, and its expression on festivals is heightened, going beyond the usual empathic act of sharing the cinematic experience of screening with others, it fosters discussion, generates identification, stirs the debate and create community ties.

Cinemas are a sanctuary and festivals are heaven. You can actually turn everything off and let yourself go. To be able to focus on something for nearly two hours is really something these days.

Undoubtedly, film screening is a history of technology, it just feels that new developments in the area are comfort and economy driven.

The Entire Concept of “online” Film Festivals Sounds Just Ludicrous to You

Because festivals indicate the existence of a tangible site where people gather to enjoy the ultimate cinematic experience. While “online” implies the nonexistence of such a place.  A film festival is, in essence, a collection of rituals and they are getting downsized, downplayed or directly suppressed on this purely digitalised version .

Human interaction is vital to the festival’s ritualistic spirit. Without it, creating a public, developing a certain taste or stimulating discussion and networking gets more challenging (De Valck, 21).

Taking everything outside the cinema is a highly contradictory action for a film festival to do. Internet can complement the events that occur in the “offline” experience, but ultimately it is a debate of principles. Technology is increasingly becoming THE mediator to reality to the point is scary. Cinephiles value the classic(s), so keep festivals as human as possible and continue to program “difficult” films. Love and protect your niche.

Fred Armisen Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live                       Giphy.com

 

Jorge Chaves

ID 26663325

 

References

De Valck, Marijke. ‘Screening’ the Future of Film Festivals: A Long Tale of Convergence and Digitization. Film International 6.4 (2008): 15–23. Print.

 

Thoughts and Reflections About the KOFFIA

The Korean Film Festival in Australia abbreviated as KOFFIA has been running for nine years now. Many Australian citizens and other people around the world have been following keenly to understand the different genres and cultures demonstrated during the annual festivals. Many issues have been driving the viewers and listeners to continue waiting for the annual program (Boon, 2014). In the year 2018, the annual festival spans for twenty-three days and nights. The festival runs in different Australian cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Canberra. This paper focuses on my thoughts and reflections relating to the different film festivals in the KOFFIA program. Notably, I will focus on the Melbourne 2018 program that ran from 6th to 13th September this year.

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Firstly, I believe that many people await these annual festivals because they showcase the Korean cultures. The viewers and listeners can understand the traditions, beliefs, and practices of the Korean people through the film. The hunger for the knowledge about other cultures influences many people due to the multicultural nature of the society. Individuals have been moving from one country to another in search of jobs, education, business opportunities, and other diplomatic activities. There is a need to understand the way the Koreans behave through their films. The 2018 annual festival in Melbourne informs the viewers about the clothing, foods, lifestyle, language, religious beliefs, and traditions of Koreans.

My second thought about the 2018 Melbourne, KOFFIA is that it is one of the best festivals in the world now. Having a single program that showcases all the genres in twenty days is not a simple idea. The annual festival covers the needs of all the music lovers because all genres can be accessed in one program. All the genre movies including the documentary and action films are available in the program. The production value of the Korean movies and other artworks is also super. The producers selected the best colors, background music, lighting, and sound throughout the movies. The viewers will not get bored easily even after watching it for twenty-three days. All the twenty-two films showcased this year in the four Australian cities were prepared by the top-notch talents. The Korean festivals are directed and prepared by the world-renowned artists. Most people are attracted by the men and women behind the cameras.

Thirdly, I think the themes and topical issues covered in the Korean films attract the viewers. One film that I believe many people love is the Little Forest. This video follows a young girl named Hye-won as she leaves the prestigious life to stay with her childhood friends. The audiences are left wondering and looking forward to living a simple life. The film directors focused on the various topical issues that attract the viewers in Australia. However, I believe that the Closing Night film should not have been included in the 2018 Melbourne program. It promotes vices such as cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and sexual cohabiting (Travis, 2018). I found out that people of different socio-demographic characteristics watch these movies. Children, for example, may get the wrong picture about the way they should live. I think that the government should censor and classify the movies to suit the characteristics of the different viewers. Other movies in the 2018 program such as the Taxi Driver, Forgotten, and Midnight Runners were good for the viewers.

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Boon, Darren. Korean Film Festival in Australia 2014. The Meld Magazine. Web. Available at:

https://www.meldmagazine.com.au/2014/08/korean-film-festival-australia-2014/

Travis, Johnson. The 2018 Korean Film Festival in Australia Program Has Been Released! July

17, 2018. Web. Available at: https://www.filmink.com.au/2018-korean-film-festival-australia-program-released/

“Father of the International Film Festival” Venice Film Festival

Venice is a world-famous Italian cultural city. It is also a place of interest for tourists from all over the world. Its waterways, flowing waves, and small boats swaying on the water, all the scenery is fascinating. Every year from the end of August to the beginning of September, this beautiful and romantic water city has become the focus of the world’s film industry, because the Venice Film Festival is held here.

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The Venice Film Festival, held in 1932, is the world’s first film festival. It is 14 years earlier than the Cannes Film Festival and 19 years earlier than the Berlin Film Festival. These three film festivals are also known as major international film festivals in Europe. The three famous film festivals and the long history make the Venice Film Festival known as the “father of the International Film Festival”.

The Venice Film Festival was suspended from 1943 to 1945 due to the occurrence of the Second World War. It really formed its own style after it was reopened in 1946. The French film master Jean Renoir’s “Southerners” won the “Best International Film Award”, and since then “Mann” and “The Prince’s Revenge” have won awards, showing the film’s extraordinary artistic atmosphere.

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In 1949, the film festival officially renamed the highest award “Best International Film” as “St. Mark Golden Lion Award”; in 1953, the “Best Italian Film” was withdrawn, and the “St. Mark Silver Lion Award” was added. It is the Venice Film Festival,this change shows the ambition of the Venice Film Festival’s internationalization and artisticization.

The biggest feature of the Venice Film Festival is the principle of independence and the spirit of adventure. The purpose of the film festival is “the film serves the serious art” and the criterion is “artistic”. The Venice Film Festival is known as the “new, strange, fast” excavation director, known as the “cradle of the film master”, in the golden age of the film from the 1930s to the 60s, it is the cradle of many film masters.

The secret behind the successful operation of the festival

Nowadays, the film festival is not just a simple party, it has become a platform for communication and cooperation in film business projects. Especially after 2000, due to the rise of the Internet and the integration of global trade, the global trading of films has become more active, and commercial communication has become the main content of some film festivals. Therefore, how to successfully operate a business activity with many exchange resources and communication forms, and how to promote the effective operation of the film festival has become a matter for film festival organizers to consider.

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1.Cooperative alliance

A cooperative alliance refers to a cooperative relationship between a film festival organizer and other organizations. Members of the participating alliances can share various resources, such as video resources, application funds, media resources, and personal resources.

Most of the cooperative alliances play the role of co-organizers in the festival. For example, the organizers of the Denver International Film Festival assisted the Aurora Film Festival in completing the docking work with the local government. This type of cooperative alliance completes communication on the one hand and provides good service and management for the smooth development of the festival on the other hand. The form of this cooperative alliance has two advantages: First, the film festival organizers can share operating costs and reduce expenses. Second, it promoted business communication and cooperation in the film market.

  1. Geographic location

Location is also an important factor in the festival, especially for viewers, businesses and the media. Usually, the location of the festival will be chosen in tourist destinations and cities of commercial value, and influential film festivals will promote regional economic income.

In 1932, the first international film festival was held in Venice, which transformed Venice from a small tourist town in Europe into one of the global resort centers. Many years later, the film festival kept Venice exposed in front of the public, and the local scenery made the characteristics of the Venice Film Festival more obvious. Therefore, the cultural attributes of the city itself are the main reason for the film festival to maintain its vitality.

  1. Theme

To judge whether a film festival has international credibility, the key depends on whether it has its own characteristics in the overall cultural style. Relying on the unique temperament, the film festival organizers can carry out more targeted activities and build the ideas and framework of the film festival.

The theme features make the film festival activities no longer single, with clear direction and meaning. The Venice Film Festival is the world’s first international film festival. It focuses on art, while the Cannes Film Festival focuses more on the combination of business and art. The Berlin Film Festival focuses on politics and society. The theme of these festivals is very obvious.

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Both the organizers of the festival and the practitioners associated with the festival are participating in the film festival in their own way. Therefore, the successful operation of a film festival is closely related to each participant. Only through mutual cooperation and harmonious coexistence can the platform be used to its fullest effect.

Creation: Movies are more important than box office

Adhering to artistic creation in a tempting market environment requires a determination and a passion for the true meaning of the film. For those directors who are still focused on art films, the film itself is much more important than money. Zhang Yang’s new work “The Soul on the Leather Rope,” was shortlisted for the “Golden Jubilee Award”, he lived in Tibet for a year with the creative team in order to shoot the film, the film did not use celebrity. Although the finalist of the “Golden Jubilee Award” is a certainty, the current mainland film market lacks sufficient interest in this type of film. Zhang Yang believes that as a creator, who must put the pursuit of art first.

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Film festival should pay more attention to art films. As the chairman of the jury of the “Asian Newcomer Award”, Er Dongsheng said that the environment is not friendly to art films. He called on the film festival to pay more attention to art films, the awards should only look at the quality of art and not consider the box office. In Er Dongsheng’s view, the film has always been divided into two directions, the public and the small group, or it can be called commercial films and art films. “I personally think that the film festival should go in the direction of the art film.” Er Dongsheng quoted Li Hanxiang’s words to explain: “There is a director in Hong Kong who said that Li Hanxiang said, “If your film has achieved results in the market, you should be polite when you participate in the film festival.” Although the film festival’s promotion of art films is not satisfactory, there is no better promotion platform than the film festival. Zhang Yang said that because “The Soul on the Leather Cord” was shortlisted for the “Golden Jubilee Award”, it has aroused the interest of many people, including the international film festival. The Toronto and Busan Film Festivals have invited the film.

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Art Cinema is the way out, although the director of the art film can ignore the shackles of the market, the film is a work after all. The difficulty of distribution and the pressure of investment cost recovery will affect the creators. The famous director Liu Ziwei has already felt the pressure. She expressed the hope that the film market will give more space for small-cost excellent movies. The idea of the movie “The Soul on the Leather Rope” is more practical, even considering free distribution online. However, in the face of the current social pressure, it is difficult for art films to find a real audience, and the creators’ hard work should be treated fairly.

MIFF reshapes film culture with “shared value”

As a large-scale cultural event, the film festival is to build a resource distribution platform for film art viewing, communication, trading, promote cross-regional and cross-cultural film communication. The “shared value” of the film festival is to let more viewers share the charm of film art. Through the holding of the Melbourne International Film Festival, we can see outstanding film works from all over the world each year, including many classic films, which shows the love and desire of the audiences of all countries for the film art. Therefore, the film festival is very helpful to enhance the artistic appreciation of local audiences and expand the international vision. In this process, the sharing and exchange of art resources has a positive impact on reshaping the multi-value of movies.

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At the same time, the shared value of film festivals can also achieve cross-cultural cooperation between filmmakers and film capital. Art creation is never a person’s creation. “Shared value” gives the film production team the opportunity to show themselves, exchange ideas and expand cooperation. Many famous film masters have paid attention to the film festival, the film festival plays an important role in cultivating local film talents. The art elites from all over the world share the film ideas and artistic views at the film festivals, and enhance the theoretical construction, innovation and technological progress of international films. The festival has unique advantages in expanding capital cooperation and optimizing resource allocation. Using the film festival platform to realize the sharing of ideas, experiences and markets, attract world film talents and expand the influence of movies, therefore reshaping the film industry model, talent cultivation and film policy system construction, “shared value” is an important foundation.

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In my country,as the influenced by historical factors and political factors, Chinese film and film artists have not received enough attention in the world film art evaluation system. There is an imbalance between the internationality of the film market and the art of film, which is also an embarrassing situation facing Chinese movies. The question is how to expand the international communication space of domestic films and promote Chinese films to the world. Thinking from this starting point, the local film festival may be a new idea to break through the difficulties. In the large-scale film festival, many internationally renowned film artists form a jury to select all the shortlisted films, and the artistic quality of the award-winning films directly reflects the professional standards of the festival. At the domestic local film festivals, we evaluate the films of the world and show the artistic standards and aesthetic qualities of Chinese films. This process is an important means to gradually construct the international discourse power of Chinese films.

The MIFF is a unique cultural system with vitality. The International Film Festival exhibition has a lot of history in terms of organizational experience, professional ability, film quality and international influence. Adhering to the concept of “shared value”, building a competitive film festival brand and letting the film festival return to the film art itself can spread the charm and art of the film to more people.

How to program a SHORT short film festival in 5 steps

Over the past couple of months, you may have been exposed to some earbashing about RUBIK’s City short film festival…

And since we want you to be knowledgeable about its programming method before you attend RUBIK, let’s break it down.

Shall we start with the basics?

 

  1. We decided to focus on Monash’s student-produced short films
  2. We identified a common thread (theme) among all the pieces: Urban Melbourne.
  3. We selected 10 short films based on social and political diversity, aesthetic value, innovation, significance and technical quality.
  4. For curatorial purposes, and regarding programming as the soul of the festival, it appeared obvious and boring to group the films based on single categories such as “documentary” or “experimental”…
  5. And taking advantage that the screening time wouldn’t exceed the two-hour mark, allowing the potential spectator to sit through the whole projection time of the festival, we engaged in the design of a storytelling approach, complemented with relevant Q&A sessions and performances, thus suppressing the use of categories.

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In essence, we created different conversation threads by putting some films together to either complement or contrast ideas, or simply to change the conversation and allow the spectator to breathe and to try a different flavor. All about creating a provocative and meaningful rhythm.

It’s not that we invented the wheel though. Film festivals came a long way to develop this sort of programming and curatorial approaches, and these five steps are only the tip of the iceberg.

We were heavily inspired by the “educational film work” model, crafted by the Friends of the German Kinemathek (Freunde der Deutsche Kinemathek, or FDK) in Berlin during the 1970’s.

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Let’s expand on it:

“Educational film work” advocates for storytelling over implementing explicit categories or genres in festival’s programming because they are a creation of the mainstream film industry that banalise and degrade the spectator’s experience (Schulte, 4).

 

It also considers short film programs as ideal for making the process that forms the basis of curating visible: “As curator, I can create a rhythm, try to direct the eye, guide the gaze, create antagonisms, ruptures, and contradictions; I can make and/or focus arguments; and I can even become a storyteller. Nothing is as boring as putting similar films together- be it a formal sameness, e.g., flicker films, or a sameness of content. It is vital, however, to mark each single work as such. It must remain clear that I am both an editor and a choreographer, that what I do is bring together different voices that the viewers understand. I only offer possible readings and connections, which need not be shared” (Schulte, 4)

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Finally, the “educational film work” model complements this filmic choreography by providing interpretation in the form of text and words: generating complementary programs and written pieces that inform the spectator about the curatorial criteria and intended story telling as well as having special guests, such as theorists, directors, critics or actors, that through Q&A sessions or presentations are able to engage in discussions of the films and the connections they make with each other (Schulte, 7).

 

Now that you have become aware, once you have experienced RUBIK’s City short film festival, I would like you you to tell me in the comments below what type of storytelling you witnessed and what connections and threads you identified.

What pros and cons would you consider when choosing an approach like the “educational film work” over a traditional fixed categories model for programming?

 

Reference

Schulte, Stefanie. “Showing Different Films Differently: Cinema as a Result of Cinematic Thinking”. The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2004): 1-16. Print.

Jorge Chaves

ID 26663325

 

Do you mind to watch an old movie at the film festival?

Talking about film festivals, you may imagine gorgeous stars walking along the red carpet while the flash bulbs clicking continuously. Actors and actress, along with directors and producers, bring their new movies to premiere. Well, for those top international film festivals like Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, this is true. But there are more small film festivals which only concentrate on a specific topic, and some international film festivals which are not so international. For these two kinds of film festivals, they do not have grand parades along red carpets, and they need some not so new films to fill up their event lists.

Take Melbourne International Film Festival 2018 as an example, it has an opening night ceremony, but you can`t find those Hollywood superstars. It has totally 444 programs to hold, with more than one forth films are actually not 2018 film. Specifically, there are 124 films screened in MIFF 2018 produced in 2017. 12 films are produced in the first 17 years(2000-2016) of the 21st century. 4 films are produced in the 1990s, 10 in the 1980s, 11 in the 1970s, 3 in the 1960s and 5 before 1960. The oldest film in the MIFF 2018 is the Australian silent film Those Who Love(McDonagh, dir. 1926). Couples of old films have “Selling Fast” or “Standby” label on the MIFF`s booking website, which means they are very popular. The number of it, comparing with new films, is quite proportionable. Hence it may show that audiences do not mind to watch an old movie in a film festival.

Films produced in 2018 are definitely new films, but those produced in 2017 and 2016, are actually natural and common to appear in a one or two years later film festival. The Long Tail phenomenon is the reason. It is used to describe the long sales schedule of less popular goods. For those products not so popular, the salers lengthen its sales time so that they may collect more profit in a long term. For those unknown or unpopular films, their producers bring them to the film festivals as many as they can, so that the distribution opportunities of the films are increased. From the other side, the films get more opportunities to be showed in front of different niches and audiences, decreasing the films` possibility of being buried.

But if a film festival is used as a place to show the films` long tails, it also shows that the film festival is not very mainstream in the world. Given Australia is an isolated and quite small market, it is understandable to see these films from one or two years ago screened at the MIFF. From the optimistic side, with MIFF Premiere Fund`s support, there are 6 premiere films at this year`s MIFF.

Reference:

MIFF Premiere Fund: http://miff.com.au/premierefund

Programs of MIFF: http://miff.com.au/program/films

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252

Chinese mainland films in MIFF

If you go to Melbourne CBD, the abundance of Chinese faces among the streams of walking people probably will impress you a lot. You may also find a number of signs and posters written in Chinese occupying many boards and walls. The Chinatown Cinema screens Chinese films all the time, attracting the Chinese to watch stories about their compatriots. But this Chinese abundance does not appear in the Melbourne International Film Festival. This year, there are 9 Chinese mainland films screened among totally 444 films and events held in the MIFF. Given that China is Australia`s biggest trading partner, this number is by no means huge. Nonetheless, An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) is voted as one of the Audience Award Winners: Narrative Features.

The history of Chinese films attending the MIFF is longer than most people think. Although Australia did not establish diplomatic relations with Red China until 1972, the first Chinese mainland film screened in MIFF was in 1956. Chinese Yue Opera film Butterfly Lovers(Sang Hu & Huang Sha, dir. 1953) is the first Chinese film that MIFF brought to Australian audiences. After that, couples of Chinese films landed Melbourne. In 1958, Chinese Silk(Han Hao-jan, dir. 1957) and Spring Comes South the Yangtze(Hao Chung-min & Chang Mengchi, dir. 1957) became the first two Chinese documentaries watched by Australian audience in the MIFF. New Year Sacrifice(Sang Fu, dir. 1956) is the first Chinese feature movie screened in the MIFF(1958). Adventures of a Small Carp(He Yumen, dir. 1958), which had won the silver award in Moscow International Film Festival 1959, is the first Chinese cartoon landing Melbourne. From the 1950s to 1970s, a few Chinese propaganda films were introduced to Australia through MIFF, which was almost unbelievable considering the ideological antagonism between two countries at that time.

With the time comes to the 21st century, more and more Chinese films come to the MIFF. This year, 9 Chinese movies are shown in the MIFF. Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke`s Ash Is Purest White(dir. 2018) probably is the leading film among the 9. With his signature narrative, Jia`s new movie focuses on the ups and downs of ordinary people in the rapidly changing time. While An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, dir. 2018) maybe be the most attracting Chinese film: its director tragically committed suicide before the film won Fipresci Prize in Cannes. It is 230 mins long and the director refused to cut any part. The People`s Republic of Desire(Hao Wu, dir. 2018) is a very technological documentary, not only because it is about network live stream, but also the American production team gives it lots of visual effects to make it more interesting. Other films like Angels Wear White(Vivian Qu, dir. 2017), Girls Aways Happy(Mingming Yang, dir. 2018) and The Widowed Witch(Cai Chengjie, dir. 2018) also reflect Chinese current reality with a special concern of female perspective.

In general, although not many, Chinese films in the MIFF are distinctive and interesting. With Chinese cinema`s development, we may expect more and more Chinese films in future MIFF.

Reference

Search Result of “China” in MIFF Archive: http://miff.com.au/festival-archive/search?year=&title=china&director=&country=

By Jiaheng Zhang 28260252