Open System Theory in the film festival

Marketing and finance are the two areas where it is sometimes difficult to find people and these areas are critical to the success of your festival. In Week7’s module, we explore film festival using open system theory by Alex Fischer’s work. Alex Fischer thinks it is useful to consider a film festival as an open system.

There are films and watchers’ action, which all form a complex whole. Operating a film festival is a delicate art, especially since the success of an event depends on a lot of different and uncertain factors. Many people think that a festival is an event which brings films and make people gather together and watch films from different countries or for particular groups, but as Alex Fischer’s thinking, a film festival needs to consider a series of practical parameters, so all these parameters can be seen as a system.

According to Alex, a film festival is an ephemeral event founded on social connectivity. Every step of operating a film festival is connected to the society, such as directors, the public, critics, international sellers, distributors, sponsors, and public authorities… They are all connected by shared needs that the festival meets. Each party takes part in accordance with the benefits they hope to gain from the participation of others. Participant satisfaction is therefore not a simple consequence of their taking part, rather it depends on their underlying motivation, something that the organisers must keep in mind. The festival is like a site of a social network which all parts concentrate on and it must aim at optimising the satisfaction of each of the participants.

Unlike a close or integrated system, a film festival does not in the actual production cycle, but it takes place over a very short time. For example, 2018 Shanghai International Film Festival was from June 16 to June 25. In the ten days, the festival finished many film exhibitions, interaction and other related events.The picture shows parts of the related events of Shanghai International Film Festival.

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 18.57.31.png

If there is a problem in any event of the film festival, the festival could not be seen as a successful one. Besides, the sociality of Shanghai International Film Festival is shown as the communications and interactive between the participant of the festival, such as actors, directors, editors or distributors who from different fields and countries. The festival has hold many activities, hoping to provide opportunities for them to communicate and corporate with each other.



Alex, Fischer, A sociologist’s perspective on the organisation of film festivals. Axel SCOFFIER, 27 May. 2013,

Alex, Fischer. Conceptualising Basic Film Festival Operation: An Open System Paradigm. Bond University, 14 December. 2009,

2018 Shanghai International Film& TV Festival, Viewed on 13 September 2018.


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