Film festivals as Gatekeepers and Tastemakers

We all are familiar that film festival is an event that is organised to host best films from around the world. Bourdieu (50-72) claimed that the film festival act as gatekeeper and tastemaker on the basis of three aspects, including Field, Habitus, and Capital.

The field refers to the field related to cultural production. Here, festivals are presented as an art form as well as based on the art with high attention on the aesthetic qualities of the films. At the same time, the film festival is conducted on the basis of cultural as well as national representation that considers geopolitical agendas.

The capital refers to the process for offering value to the film festival based on films. Bourdieu claims that distinct types of capital include economic capital, cultural capital, economic capital, as well as symbolic capital.

The habitus describes the dynamics behind the taste making as well as festivals. The symbolic capital provided by Bourdieu presents the film festival as cultural legitimisation and exhibit the way they function as gatekeepers with respect to the field related to cultural production (Bourdieu 130-171).  Yet, it is claimed that film festivals not only act as gatekeepers, but also as tastemakers. The idea given by Bourdieu based on habitus explains the dynamics behind the same. In simple words, habitus fosters cultural consecration and maintains cultural legitimisation at film festivals by producing filmmakers who make films for the film festival circuit and audiences who like to watch the same.

Despite this, film festival as a gatekeeper structure is based on the objective structure. This means that the filmmakers have to pass the film festivals for having exposure, recognition, and prestige. The exposure is achieved through opportunities of exhibition, recognition is received by assessing if the film is worthy enough to be shown at the festival, as well as prestige comes through the selection for reputed programs, honours, and prizes. Indeed, the producers or filmmakers have to find the way to the exhibition by the means of film festival platform where the work is appreciated by the exhibition as well as the reputation of the film industry.

The film festival act as tastemaker since they contribute in maintaining the belief in the art cinema based on autonomous values as well as continuous production and reproduction of the game related to the art cinema (Bourdieu 167).  The film festival makes sure that the development of agents is based on the action, conception, expression, perception, cultivated disposition, as well as imagination (Bourdieu 121). So, it can be concluded that the habitus is vital for developing a sense related to what artists do and the way they comprehend themselves as well as their field.

Eventually, the film festival also plays an essential part in spreading film education. The film festival reaches a wide range of audience of all ages, providing them opportunity to find exceptional quality content.

Undoubtedly, I believe that the film festival do act as both gatekeeper and taste maker, ensuring that best films always find a way to the festival and reach mass audience.



Bourdieu, Pierre. The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.

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