Film festival as an event part 1

What makes an event?

Generally, there are three main Characteristics of an event: temporary/programmed/ spectacle.

Temporary implies differently in the context of film festival as an event. On the one hand, temporary can mean the transitory of film festival as an event (i.e. a film festival appears once annually) and the experience of temporary on the other. To further explore the experience of temporary, how an experience of time is manufactured should be figured first, as we all known‘Cinema appears, at the outset, to conform and comply with this new experience of temporality in its visualisation of time, its archiving capacity, and its ability to render time as a unit to leisure organised in advance.’ (Doane, 2002)Film is a ‘time-based’ medium, which is a recorded document and an unfolding series of occurrences simultaneously. Film festival as distinct forms of film culture sought to embed film as a pre-recorded medium into a live theatrical context, so ‘the liveness of the film festival is a curious choreography between various performers acting now and a recorded medium.’ (Harbord, 2009)

The festival creates what might be taken for the present, a time of now, paradoxically working with the recorded medium of film. Time manufactures the event, the film festival conversely manufactures time, producing ‘an experience of temporality that is in dialogue with the contemporary fragmentation and de-structuring of time’(Harbord, 2009). The time of film festival however is not simply the immediacy of occurrence or instantaneousness. It is unlike a singing or dance event in that its central direction is a compound of temporalities, the recorded time of the film and the present time of screening. This is the paradoxical appeal of festival, which related to the temporalities of digital technologies and decentralised labour.To illustrate, due to the emerging of new technologies such as laptops, the distinction between time of leisure and time of labour is blurred, the activity of film viewing can be distributed easily across the time of days, moreover, inserted with everyday schedules. The film is divided into segments in different lengths of time, which can be watched separately and downloaded to service the temporal needs of the viewer. With the de-institutionalisation of film viewing, the time of the running film is less likely to assured as a unit. A film festival, on the contrary, gathers together the time of the film and the time of viewing. The festival programme always providing more films than audiences can make time for, binds films into a limited structure and for audiences who bought tickets, the giving of their time is undoubtable. The limited schedule of screening, tickets sales, and the last-minute release of the full programme, the connected events surrounding screenings, all of these position the festival itself as the scarce resource. In so doing, it again draws collective attention of film viewing and re-centres the time of projection as a live event.

The second and third characteristic will be discussed in the next blog.



Iordanova, D., 2013. The film festival reader, p127-134

Doane, M.A., 2002. The emergence of cinematic time : modernity, contingency, the archive, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Barber, S. & Goldsmith, B., 2004. Projected cities: cinema and urban space. Media international Australia incorporating culture and policy, 110, p.149.

Serres, M. & Latour, Bruno, 1995. Conversations on science, culture, and time, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s