Film festivals and politics

Film festivals, especially those three most prestigious film festivals are always related to politics due to the artistry of movie and the film festivals’ historical background. Each stage in the procession of movie production is closely tied to people’s economic, cultural, political conditions. Kracauer (2004) asserts that movie can present the psychological states of a nation more directly and intuitively than other art forms. When it comes to the film festival, the presenting function unquestionably magnified.


The worldview which delivered by film festival effects the ideology construction of the world. Kracauer (2004) brings the example of the German movie industry which could also support this idea. After World War II, a great number of art practitioners left German and the soft power of German experienced a decline with the Cold War. Facing the strong popular culture impact from America, France became a spreading center of Europe elite culture. With the Cold War background, film festival became one of the few international cultural exchanges (such as the Olympic Games) at that time. Moreover, comparing to the Olympic Games, film festivals have less adversarial nature but more communication. In addition, film festivals’ gatekeeper function contributes to the construction of new aesthetical standard and new tendency. Cannes, Berlin, and Venice to some extent represent the culture intervention to the world order from Europe.


Similar to the Nobel prize, those three film festivals as the appraise and elect of art, are not only about the art itself. Social ideology, political environment, even national sentiments are all included. For example, the shadow of Mussolini shrouded Venice Film Festival for 8 years and as a result of that Cannes Film Festival was established by the angry film practitioner. From the 1950s, the amicable attitude towards Japanese movies in somehow improved Japan’s international image.


The relationship between politics and film festivals is one of the reasons why Cannes, Berlin, and Venice are the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Different from Hollywood’s universal commercial releasing network, a value system which utilizes Europe elite class worldview as main interpretation spreads their idea of superstructure. For instance, the Cannes Film Festival which basically establishes the mode of modern film festival. France government support the festival officially and FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) which based in Paris also make a contribution. By contrast, FIAPF recognized Berlin International Film Festival as a festival with ‘A’ status after Berlinale have been established 5 years later. This comparison indicates that the film festival ‘s political aspect is not only about the ideology but also geopolitics.



Reference list:

Kracauer, S 2004, From Caligari to Hitler, Princeton: Princeton U.P.


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