Volunteers in film festival

Working as volunteers has become a popular way to engage in film festival among the youth. Every year, one of the most important parts of many film festivals is recruiting the volunteers. Volunteers also play essential roles in contributing to the film festival delivery in different ways. From world-renowned film festivals, such as Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival to small-scale sub-genre film festival, for example, Human Rights and Arts Festival.

 Based on my observation of the film festivals I attended, especially in MIFF, the volunteer in the film festival are always extroverted young people. They were energetic and accommodated with a smile on their face. Audiences can feel more inclusive at the film festival because of them.

The volunteering actions happened in the media-related festival, including the film festival, has always been researched. Many pieces of literature examined the impact of volunteer participation and the motivation of the volunteers. Some scholars mentioned volunteerism could be considered as ‘prosocial behavior,’ which shows an individual’s voluntary action intends to benefit others (Peaslee et al., 2014). The scholars also noted that volunteers always share a positive attitude and self-esteem, as well as good morality.

However, regarding recruiting the volunteers, the film festival organizer will formulate the specific guidelines and requirements to follow, which make competitions or sometimes even cutthroat competitions always remain. Regarding the specific film festival, In Shanghai International Film Festival, Volunteers are not only the important part of SIFF but also the “ambassador” who represent the Chinese culture and the city image of Shanghai. For the film festival, the high level of volunteers also contributes to the civic engagement. It also adds cultural and social value to build the cultural metropolis through the media event (Film Festival). For the volunteers, they can also gain unforgettable experiences by participating in the film festival. Additionally, some challenging requirements are 1. Candidates must have the ability to work under intensity and long time span. 2. Candidates should have both Chinese and English skill, and who have experience in working for the film festival, or overseas study background or speak minority language is preferred. Some positions include movie translation proofreader, forum Assistant, subtitle operator, and receptionist. There are many people apply for the different positions. Besides, Sundance Film Festival receives more than 3000 volunteer applications every year. The organizer will also conduct the selection process or a telephone interview (Lucas, 2017).

Apart from the benefits, which the film festival provides the volunteers, such as involved in the film industry and free access to many movie session. In order to secure the volunteers’ right and welfare, the organizer of the film festival should cover the personal accident insurance for every volunteer or reimburse the expenses. For example, the committee of SIFF will buy insurance for every volunteer and provide daily commute subsidy and working meal (SIFF, 2018). More, the committees of First Young Film Festival in China also provide free accommodation and essential subsidy (First Film Festival, 2018).

Hiring volunteers can sometimes be economical. Both film festival and volunteers can gain advantages from the volunteering actions. Although it is widely accepted that volunteer is free labor, it is also vital to pay attention to the basic right and interest of volunteer to maintain and sustain the enthusiastic participants and relationship between film festival and volunteers.


First Young Film Festival volunteer Recruitment Regulation, 2018. Retrieved from http://first2-texteditor.oss-cn-hangzhou.aliyuncs.com/491b5c443e8ebfeb8b65378131b6e241.pdf (In Chinese)

Lucas, 2017. How to become a volunteer on one of the international film festivals. Retrieved from https://www.volunteeringoptions.org/film-festivals-offering-volunteering-programs/

Peaslee, R.M., El-Khoury, J. and Liles, A., 2014. The media festival volunteer: Connecting online and on-ground fan labor. Transformative Works & Cultures15.  http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2014.0502.

SIFF Volunteer Recruitment Regulation, 2018. Retrieved from http://www.siff.com/siff2017/chinese/schedule/notice/2018-03-22/2285.html (In Chinese)

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