How does the film selection session work of a film festival

To host a film festival, one of the most important steps is the selection of the films. The film selection team always needs to spend a lot of time to select works that are unique in art and technology aspects among the thousands of registered films. After primary selection, re-election, discussion, debate, and finally determine which films are competing, and which films are exhibitor participating.

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Rotterdam International Film Festival filmmaker Gerwin Tamsma said in an interview that there are too many films to be screened every year. It is impossible for the film festival selection team to watch every work. However, it is not like the rumors that a film can be judged in seconds. Each film festival has their own taste so that the directors should consider whether their works match the taste of the film festival before submission. For instance, a film such as a romantic comedy may not be the favorite type of the Rotterdam Film Festival. He also suggests the directors and the producers that not to deliver rough cut versions of the work, which will greatly reduce the chances of the filmmakers watching your films.

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The selected director of the Tokyo International Film Festival, Kenzi Ishizaka, presents that the film selection is a very serious matter as they want to choose the better competitive films to cope with the pressure from other film festivals. It is really difficult for them to make decisions every year. He said they received at least 1,500 films every year before the Tokyo Film Festival. Therefore, in fact, the chance for a film to get selected is minimal. The filmmakers have been constantly participating in various film festivals and collecting films from all over the world. The job is not only about settling down and watching the films. When choosing films, filmmakers will consider the local censorship of the films, and from a cultural perspective, concern the central problem or phenomenon the films want to demonstrate through screen expression.

Since each filmmaker studies different types or fields of films, the films they watch are different, For instance, a filmmaker who focuses on Asian films will not go to European films, whereas the one who likes French movies will probably not recommend American films. In addition, there is no fixed standard for film selection actually. After the filmmakers recommend the films they selected to the organizing committee, then paying attention to consider the film techniques, image styles, narratives, and the popularity and awareness of directors and actors. Moreover, each film festivals provide a platform for showcasing their international selections, however, highlighting indigenous filmmaking is usually common in programs (Czach, 2004).

To program an on-campus short film festival which the works are created by students and related to research, the film selection process and canon can be kind different from the global large-scale film festivals. There is neither that many works for selection nor that much professional filming techniques to consider. What we’ve done and kept doing are choosing the best ones (or say taste satisfying ones) among the limited resources, broadening the attachable film resources, and choosing the opening and closing films from the selected ones.




Czach, L 2004, ‘Film Festival, Programming, and The Building of A National Cinema’, The Moving Image: The Journal of The Association of Moving Image Archivists,vol.04, no.01, pp.76-88.

‘How Did The Major Film Festivals Select The Finalists From A Number of Candidate Films?’, viewed 20 August 2018,

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