A special film festival: CIFF

As I mentioned in last journal, film festival circuit is particularly important for the survival of art films and independent films, because, it offers an exposing venues and distribution chances for independent filmmakers. Besides, it is an alternative and complimentary way to the mainstream film market, as its preference of the aesthetics of a film. Here I would like to introduce a special case of film festival: CIFF, which is ‘China Independent Film Festival’


During last decades, more than 500 independent films have been produced in China. However, as the film festivals in China are still in fledging, and many independent filmmakers lack of funds and resources, their chance of being in public eyes is very limited. In this context, the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), held in Nanjing every autumn, becomes a gala for these filmmakers and cinephiles.

The reason I call it a special is that it is certainly a small one comparing to those events which have already gain a considerable size. And it is a far cry from the normal film festivals: it keeps a very low-profile, rudimentary in hardware, minimal in director and guest reception, even the screening equipment and environment are simple and plain. As for the standard programs of a film festival, such as red carpets and dinners, are also out from the consideration of CIFF organizers.

One of screenings of 2011 CIFF is in Librairie Avant-Garde, a Bookshop in Nanjing.
(Photo taken by IrisMoor)

Sometimes its films are screening in the lecture theatre in universities, also its publicity and promotion are extremely restrained. There is something odd about attending CIFF: Here are many guests from international film institutions, you will meet domestic and overseas professionals, talking about a very frontier and profound topic. However, people attended have to bear poor screening equipment, plain environment, no cocktails or dinner, all of them seems to notice you that the only thing here is about films.

All of this, however, does not prevent it from being a ‘pure’ film festival, and the purity is the powerful core of CIFF. The juries of CIFF includes art critic, writer, scholar and prestigious director. Films are seriously chosen, discussed and evaluated. Juries are divided and fiercely contested occasionally, and each award-winning film will get a carefully written reviews. Quality is paramount, political and commercial factors have had little impact on the treatment of films. Besides, the ‘distribution’ role naturally exists here: Audience can directly buy the DVD of their preferred film from the director.

While some film festivals tend to be a publicity of city branding or tourism, and are often criticized about their professional, the CIFF has pride of it. The meaning of CIFF is that it offers us a simplest and purest case of a film festival, shows us the essential frame of a film festival.

Works Cited

IrisMoor. “review of single man.” Mtime.com, 16 Aug 2011. http://movie.mtime.com/138804/reviews/6743563.html.

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