CASFFA (Czech and Slovak film festival) 2018 is taking place in Melbourne from 12th to 26th September. Before it, seldom did I have watched films from Czech or Slovak and knew less about their culture so this experience of attending the opening night of it leaves me some special impression and makes me think more about the meaning of film festivals.
As is argued by Thomas and Kim (2011), the motivation of the audience attending the festival is the desire of watching quality films which could bring them a good and enjoyable environment. The films chosen to screen at the festival must be carefully selected carefully. Although the impression of the view of audiences may be subjective and hard to measure, some signs of audience reaction can help to reveal to some degree. For example, the film <The Hastrman> which screened on the opening night of CASFFA can be regarded as a quality one. The film tells a story of a nobleman who acts strangely returning to a village and the things he leads to happen, which is fulfilled the factors of romance, fantasy, suspense and a bit of horror. According to the observation, audiences were attracted by the plot all along, laughing while the character acting ridiculously, exclaimed when the scary puppet dropped out of the cabinet.
According to Peranson (2008, p.23), one of the most important purposes of film festivals is ‘providing audiences with opportunities to enjoy commercially unviable films projected in a communal space – films that most communities, even the most cosmopolitan, otherwise would not have the opportunity to see’. The films in CASFFA may rarely have the chance to screen in the cinema to make the public known, but there must be many specific audiences being interested in them, and the festival gives them the access to. The coexistence of both circuits (cinema chain) and film festivals make the film industry more vivid and sophisticated and can attract more audiences.
Apart from the film itself, the atmosphere that in the festival may be exceptional and irreproducible, especially for the opening night. In CASFFA opening night, drinks were offered which made the people attended feel relaxed and enjoyable to chat with each other. Before the screening, the creator of chief of the festival gave their introduction, including the artistic director Cerise Howard who has given a lecture in our class, all of them gave warm welcome to the audience. The festival is like a bridge for the audience and filmmakers or between film professionals, for them to have a chance to communicate (Peranson, 2008). After the screening, audiences could also take part in the post-film party, where live music played and people exchanged their feelings about the film and discussed the film plots. Different from watching films in the cinema that people just leave respectively when empty after the show, and the way of discussing may be chatting with people around or refer from comments online, the after party gave people the opportunity to share thoughts face to face with like-minded.
(By Jie Mei)
Peranson, M., 2008. First you get the power, then you get the money: Two models of film festivals. Cineaste, 33(3), p.37.
Thomas, T. and Kim, Y.H., 2011. A study of attendees’ motivations: Oxford film festival. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences, 10(1).