To explore the relationship between international film festivals and regional economy and city branding.

By Qianhui Yao

Since the 1980s, the phenomenon of film festivals has been thoroughly specialized and industrialized Valck, 2006). The film festival has become an engine for other related industries because of its higher cultural value added, forming a large industrial cluster including transportation, hotel, catering, shopping, tourism, performing arts, network, and other fields that  increase employment opportunities and produce huge economic benefits.

timgStringer (2008) argued that the film festival has played an important role in the city’s branding and economy, placing the international film festival in the discussion of global space economics. Take the Cannes Film Festival for example—it attracts at least 60,000 film professionals and 200,000 visitors a year, with the two weeklong film festival creating a direct economic value of 200 million euros, with an indirect economic value of up to 700 million euros. The film festival has enabled the city of Cannes to achieve a rapid economic development. At the same time, the film festival has become an important symbol of the city branding for Cannes.

I agree with the view that the film festival’s hosting has unleashed the city’s economic potential and played an important role in shaping the city’s branding. However, I would like to try to explore the relationship between film festivals, regional economies, and city branding from another angle. According to the realities of modern society and economic development, cities with the potential for rapid economic development attract a large number of production factors, which naturally attracts more and more people, transforming the city into a port for cultural transmission and demonstration. In other words, cultural achievements can only lead to widespread attention when they are placed on the carrier of the city. This is particularly evident in China. Take the Beijing Film Festival as an example. As China’s political, economic, and cultural centre, Beijing attracts a great deal of productivity and labour. In 2009, Beijing’s film box office income was 3.15 billion, ranking in the country’s top cities. According to calculations of the resident population, Beijing’s per capita annual view of 3.3 people is the country’s highest. The economic base and population quantity become the production engine of the cultural industry, which is also the necessary condition for being able to successfully hold a film festival. Unlike the three major European film festivals, as a cultural industry, today’s film festivals, city branding, and regional economic relations are mutually reinforcing. An abundant level of social productivity and a stable regional economy are necessary prerequisites to holding film festivals. In addition, successful film festivals also play an important role as a part of the cultural industry in shaping the city branding.



Valck, M. d. 2006, Film festivals : history and theory of a European phenomenon that became a global network Amsterdam: ASCA

Stringer, J.2008,” Global cities and the international film festival economy”, Cinema and the city, vol.2, no.5, pp. 26-42.


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