The history of international film festivals

The establishment of international film festivals could be regarded as the impartible production of national evolution of politics and economy. Speaking of the development of film festivals, it is worth to analyze the history of three most influential film festivals in the world: Berlin, Venice and Cannes film festivals.

The establishment of Berlin festival was associated with the history of German. Because of the beginning of the Cold War, the tensions of war brought the crisis of Germany film industry. Many film studios in Berlin were ruined. The Berlin Blockade blocked the city from the outside and due to the lack of materials and equipment was as big crisis which made the German film industry became stagnant. To revive the film industry and Germany’s international artistic frame, the Germany government decided to rebuild their film traditions in capital Berlin and then the Berlinale was born. It could be stated that the Berlin Film Festival was born under the national history and political catalysis (De Valck 2007). The Venice International Film Festival was the first film festival established in 1932 which successfully combined national films and international films by invited nations to participate in this festival (De Valck 2007). In the development of the Venice International Film Festival, it was controlled by the fascist party and the festival played a puppet-role in that period (De Valck 2007). The foundation of Cannes Festival was a resistant response of the force of fascistic regime at the Venice International Film Festival (De Valck 2007). In their early time, their establishment or development was associated with national even global politics and history. These festivals were considered to be a cultural convergence and a cultural contest among the various countries during the wartime.

Similarly, the oldest international Asian film festival—the Hong Kong International Film Festival was built under the management of British colonial government. The establishment of this festival also could not be separated from the city’s colony historical background. Another famous festival in Asia named the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). The SIFF was born in 1993 and then accredited by the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (FIAPF) and classified as one of A-category film festivals during the convention at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year (Ran 2011). At that time, there was no internationally recognized world-class film festival in China and the emergence of SIFF represented the Chinese film to be closer to the internationalization. Not only could it expand Chinese international influence but also led Chinese audiences to explore the world in the way of a film festival. As the film was a powerful instrument of exhibiting a nation’s culture, customs or history to the public. International film festivals, their existence was necessary and identified because they all possessed social value to nations and individuals.



De Valck, M 2007, Film festivals: from European geopolitics to global cinephilia, e-book, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, viewed 25 August 2018,

Ran, M 2011, ‘Celebrating the international, disremembering Shanghai: the curious case of the Shanghai international film festival’, Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 147-168, viewed 25 August 2018,



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