Film festival – “the laboratory” of film art.

Andre Bazan once said of the Cannes film festival: “a two-week modern film monastery, with its tacky revelry and fireworks, but more of it is films that deserve to be watched in a sober way”. Although different types and styles of films are included in the major film festivals in the world, it is an indisputable fact that the best and most winning films are art films.

Art films and commercial films or genre films are relative concepts, but there is no absolute line of separation. The most important purpose of commercial films is to make profits, it focuses on catering to the audience’s tastes and pursuing easy to understand. Art films, on the other hand, often subvert traditional genres, with strong experimental nature, pursue and create film aesthetics, to deeply explore humanity, life, or the heart. Therefore, film critic Jinhua Dai believes that art film is an indispensable laboratory and frontier breakthrough for the film industry, without which the film industry would lose its engine. In other words, art film is an explorer of film art, and they create a certain narrative mode and aesthetic style that may be niche at first, but ultimately can be used by commercial films, and continuously expand the pattern and territory of commercial films, so that the film will always be fresh and alive.

However, the reality is that art films are in a difficult situation. For example, they have to face difficulties such as lack of connection with investors, lack of funds and art academy lines, “partial feeding” of audiences and rising publicity costs. Although it is impossible to change the status quo in a short time, the existence of film festivals can provide a good platform for the promotion, publicity and even survival of art films. As Bourdieu (1993) said, “the festival is not only act as gatekeepers, but as tastemakers. Producers need to find access to the exhibition through the film festival platform, where the work is recognized by the exhibition and the reputation of the film industry”.

Piers Handlin, President of the Toronto film festival, said: “I think some of the filmmakers’ work may now exist just for film festivals, or it may be that their films have no other place to show. This kind of art film has very little living space now, there used to be a lot of art cinemas for art films, but now there aren’t any, therefore, the film festival has become a distribution channel to replace the original art cinema.”

Many famous Chinese directors, such as Kaige Chen and Yimou Zhang of the fifth generation, Ye Lou and Zhangke Jia of the sixth generation, Gan Bi and Yukun Xin of the young generation, they all came out of the festival with art films. They are not only the backbone of Chinese films, but also the experimenters and creators of Chinese film art. It’s hard to imagine that without the festival’s toehold platform, they could have been discovered just by the original commercial film screening. From this perspective, the Shanghai international film festival is worthy of praise for the establishment of the “new Asian talent award”, which aims to explore talent and explore the possibility of film. Of course, “golden goblet award” is more of an eye for encouraging the new players in the world film industry. The enhancement of artistic film promotion will inject fresh blood into the film industry and promote the progress of China and the world film industry.





Valck, M. d., Kredell, B. & Loist, S., 2016. Film Festivals:History, Theory, Method, Practice. s.l.:Routledge.



By DI JIA ( 28240979)

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