Film Festival as public sphere

The theory about public sphere was first generated by Habermas. To Habermas (1989), the public sphere where private audience aware, interact, discuss public factor and come together as a public. I think that the film festival creates a powerful emotional and intentional resource for animating moral deliberation and democratic dissent as it mediates the “stranger rationality” central to public engagement. Furthermore, the film festival shown is itself a part of national life, the public seems to see itself, and to see itself in terms of a conception of civic identity.

Firstly, the national and international films festivals are a critical medium that generate the social, economic and political factor. Furthermore, film festival has a powerful emotional and information resource to get public engagement, thus they can influence the perception of audience in cultural landscape. We can see that film festivals have the freedom to generate the sensitive and difficult topic in a different way. They can raise the awareness of community to discuss about a specific topic, however, the government still a high level of control over what the film maker deliver the message to the public. Audio and visual material in film create a competitive advantage that is hardly not found in another mainstream media. Furthermore, film festival help to explore myself to other’s people’s thoughts and opening up a new perspective about seeing the world. And that’s how I felt at MIFF when I attended. In MIFF, many international films bring their local issue to international community, thus people can raise the awareness and open a platform to discuss this problem.

Secondly, question and answers (Q&A) format functions between producers and festival audience are generated as communicative performative activities. For audiences, the film festival Q&A session help the participation of festival customers in its verbally and emotionally-engaging public atmosphere. For filmmakers, they can share and explain their message with audience about the inspiration and the process.

Finally, film festival use new media technology to engage with audience and manage the film festival experience. Technology is illustrated by a model of networking, flexibility, and diversification, thus it gives a soft power to the public audience to participated in an active activity which could potentially access to information and resolve some public issues. The information is now available to anyone after a simple click. In MIFF, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the main method for audience engagement, where the audience can respond to the production and publication of films by leaving comment on Facebook or Twitter channel. The film makers practice the term of “community engagement”, thus they tend to develop a deeper interaction rather than transmission of information. These factors make the film festival to become a natural function for the public sphere.

Reference list:

Habermas, J 1989, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Cambridge.

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