When Film Festivals Are Not Just About The Films

     While the small-scale film festival like Melbourne International documentary film festival is more focus on sharing the film, or the LGBT film festival like Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival plays more value on promoting equal opportunities and eliminate discrimination against sexual minority groups, the large-scale film festival like Cannes Film Festival aims for more.

    Stringer (2001) points out that the ambition of many festivals is to use the existing big festivals as models in order to bring the world to the city in question, and at the same time circulating the reputation of the city in question all over the world. The large film festival like Cannes is not just simply about films after its 70 years of development. Celebrities and movie stars attend this pageant for the promotion of their film, more media exposures or to represent the image of their countries. For example, after Chinese actress Fan Bingbing’s radiant appearance on the red carpet of Cannes, as it was so resounding when media reported her custom and appearance in Cannes, other Chinese actress began to follow Fan’s path and made themselves appear on the red carpet in Cannes in order to gain more exposure and attention. A very typical example is the actress named Zhang Yuqi, according to the report from media, Zhang made herself appear on the red carpet by purchasing the invitation of Cannes, which means she was not officially invited. What’s more, the  Filmmakers show up in this grand event in order to be more involved with the film industry and build up the connection with the practitioners.

Fan Bingbing&Zhang Yuqi in Cannes Film Festival

       While the attendees gain their benefits from the Cannes Film Festival, the city Cannes also benefits from this festival. According to Stringer(2001), what many festivals now actually market and project are not just “narrative images”, but a city’s own “festival image”. With the image and reputation built by film festival, the host city will no doubt attract visitors to travel, which indicates the economic growth of the city. This kind of city promotion was directly shown by the mayor of Berlin when introducing visitors to the 1998 Berlin Festival held in February that year, in the speech, the mayor reminded the visitors that while they were enjoying the films from the five continents, they could also spend their time discovering the sites in Berlin(Stringer 2001, p.140).


        Another City which gains its benefits from hosting a film festival is Shanghai. Shanghai is always known as one of the biggest international cities in China, by hosting the Shanghai International Film Festival, it not only promotes more Chinese movie to the world while stimulating the international communication of films, but also strengthens shanghai’s international position and attracts more visitors to Shanghai each year.



Stringer Julian 2001 ‘Global Cities and the International Film Festival Economy’, in M. Shiel & T. Fitzmaurice(ed.), Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, pp.134- 144

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