Film festival as a live event & what is success in film festival

Film festival as a live event & what is success in film festival

People have certain expectation when coming to film festival, some coming for the certain film, some looking forward to seeing the director, but for most ordinary people, they are simply attracted by the event itself. And the liveness plays an important role in events. As mentioned before, the liveness consists of three sectors, yet there are three more facets.

Festivalgoers are always keen on the ‘surprise’ in a live event, for example, the film viewing in a festival can be a reproduced version or a longer version, and directors may share various information that is not shown in the film. In addition, film festivals provide a social context of the audiences, who share the same interests, especially special interest audiences (i.e. a local immigrant community), they can market themselves as a focal event in the city, and locals (as well as tourists) take vacations around the time of festivals. Film festivals are not exclusively for cinephiles, they provide the opportunity for binging. Last but not least, film festivals create the cinescape for audiences, where they can be released from everyday schedules while film viewing.

What is success in a film festival

Thanks to the guest lecture given by Cerise Howard, the artistic director of the Czech Slovak Film Festival of Australia, I got to think about this topic, which also inspired me of some ideas of our own coming film festival.

From my perspective, a well-organized event should have a reasonable schedule (including various movies, accessible ticketing, handful and friendly staffs, clear brochure and guide, explicit signs for infrastructure and maybe some souvenirs.)

As Cerise mentioned, a room full of audiences is a successful festival, however, festivals have a number of advantages over regular art house screenings (theaters for instance), in that festivals are events. As we currently live in an event-driven culture and festivals are events, they are more likely to have a greater promotional budget to attract audiences. Yet for film festivals, their most significant purpose is to provide audiences with opportunities to enjoy commercially unviable films projected in a communal space, otherwise would not have the opportunity to see. Furthermore, on the one hand, every festival promotes interaction and integration of different cultures and strengthens exchanges and cooperation to some extent, this shows the unique charm of the film festival—culture collision. On the other hand, in some competitive unit of film festivals, Contestants hope to stand out in the competition, which would encourage the film creation and production actively. Thus it is essential that film festivals create the general atmosphere for the appreciation of film as art, and that is the success of film festivals.

Summary on the film festival practice

Running a festival is not easy, it requires a seamless corporation between teams, yet the process of our festival is well under way, and the preparation leaves much to be desired, I’m really looking forward to seeing that, and thanks all our teams for working so hard.

Film festival as an event part 2

Film festivals should be programed for festivalgoers as a program that disrupts everyday schedules, on the one hand, the program should produce its own relationship to time (the temporary), it create its liveness and/or live on the other, as liveness is one of the main reasons why people would choose a event instead of a recorded document.Personally, liveness of an event consist of three facets, first of all, participation, audiences should have the feeling that everything in the festival is prepared for them. Next, interactivity appears in the immersive film-viewing experience, which brings audiences closer to the film. The third one is multi-sensory experience, unlike the recorded medium which audiences can only watch and hear, people are able to perceive the event through striking visual sense, various sense of hearing (including people’s whisper), or even taste sense (i.e. the food or drinks offered in an event). All of these generates a more real live event.

When a film festival became a spectacle, audiences are more likely to build up the expectation of the event, which replaced the expectation of the everyday. Film festival creates an atmosphere that makes them as ‘independent space’ which refers to both temporal and spatial dimensions­­ the temporal dimensions has been discussed previously, the spatial dimensions connect festivals to the specificity of sites. The meaning of a film festival is inseparable from its particular location or the site became a quintessential sign of film festival. ‘Film festival both utilize and re-inflect the meaning of a particular site in an endless feedback loop to the extent that the topography of a place is changed to suit the needs of a festival’, (Harbor, 2009) for example, the new infrastructure of Berlin Film Festival in 2000 and the relocation of the Pusan Film Festival across the city. This impact on the physical design of a place reveals the cultural and economic implication of film festivals. Without Cannes Film Festival, Cannes would be less famous than it is today, thanks to Locarno International Film Festival, increasing people have heard about this city, film festival collected people’s attention into a specific city precisely in a set of time, bring convergence effect to the city. This is the real influence of the festival towards a city.

In so doing, film festivals in the specific region enabled the emergence of a cultural brand, furthermore, successful film festivals are able to bring derivative benefit. During the festival, visitors flow rate increase rapidly,stimulating the consumptions in catering, shopping and accommodation etc. Cannes again as an example, not only owned the Cannes Film Festival as a city label, but also made the site as a world-known tourism city. Additionally, if a festival appears once annually on the cyclical wheel if civic life, it plays its own part in another kind of rotation: the distribution of films. Film festival is one of the most dynamic forces on cinematic, the world’s famous festivals are all promoting the development of cinema with its own influence. From the audiences’ point of view, film festivals provide with us the chance to watch a classic film and a non-theatrical film on screen, which should be the most significant meaning to us audiences.



Iordanova, D., 2013. The film festival reader, p127-134

Armstrong, Richard, 2004. Janet Harbord Film Cultures. Metro Magazine, (139), p.198.

Lotringer, S. & Virilio, Paul, 2005. The accident of art, New York: Semiotext(e). p95-110

Valck,, 2007. Film festivals : from European geopolitics to global cinephilia, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. P133-161

Film festival as an event part 1

What makes an event?

Generally, there are three main Characteristics of an event: temporary/programmed/ spectacle.

Temporary implies differently in the context of film festival as an event. On the one hand, temporary can mean the transitory of film festival as an event (i.e. a film festival appears once annually) and the experience of temporary on the other. To further explore the experience of temporary, how an experience of time is manufactured should be figured first, as we all known‘Cinema appears, at the outset, to conform and comply with this new experience of temporality in its visualisation of time, its archiving capacity, and its ability to render time as a unit to leisure organised in advance.’ (Doane, 2002)Film is a ‘time-based’ medium, which is a recorded document and an unfolding series of occurrences simultaneously. Film festival as distinct forms of film culture sought to embed film as a pre-recorded medium into a live theatrical context, so ‘the liveness of the film festival is a curious choreography between various performers acting now and a recorded medium.’ (Harbord, 2009)

The festival creates what might be taken for the present, a time of now, paradoxically working with the recorded medium of film. Time manufactures the event, the film festival conversely manufactures time, producing ‘an experience of temporality that is in dialogue with the contemporary fragmentation and de-structuring of time’(Harbord, 2009). The time of film festival however is not simply the immediacy of occurrence or instantaneousness. It is unlike a singing or dance event in that its central direction is a compound of temporalities, the recorded time of the film and the present time of screening. This is the paradoxical appeal of festival, which related to the temporalities of digital technologies and decentralised labour.To illustrate, due to the emerging of new technologies such as laptops, the distinction between time of leisure and time of labour is blurred, the activity of film viewing can be distributed easily across the time of days, moreover, inserted with everyday schedules. The film is divided into segments in different lengths of time, which can be watched separately and downloaded to service the temporal needs of the viewer. With the de-institutionalisation of film viewing, the time of the running film is less likely to assured as a unit. A film festival, on the contrary, gathers together the time of the film and the time of viewing. The festival programme always providing more films than audiences can make time for, binds films into a limited structure and for audiences who bought tickets, the giving of their time is undoubtable. The limited schedule of screening, tickets sales, and the last-minute release of the full programme, the connected events surrounding screenings, all of these position the festival itself as the scarce resource. In so doing, it again draws collective attention of film viewing and re-centres the time of projection as a live event.

The second and third characteristic will be discussed in the next blog.



Iordanova, D., 2013. The film festival reader, p127-134

Doane, M.A., 2002. The emergence of cinematic time : modernity, contingency, the archive, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Barber, S. & Goldsmith, B., 2004. Projected cities: cinema and urban space. Media international Australia incorporating culture and policy, 110, p.149.

Serres, M. & Latour, Bruno, 1995. Conversations on science, culture, and time, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.






MIFF tour Cold war (2018)

 MIFF tourCold war (2018)



It was cold and drizzling that day, people were waiting in front of the gate, and we all knew that people who standing beside us are film lovers.


While much of 2018 is already behind us, there is probably no suspense that Cold war, directed by polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, will be one of the best black and white films of 2018. Even though the film is less than 90 minutes, the extreme texture of the film art form, black-and-white screen image of style made it stand out in the competitive year. (Pawel Pawlikowski, the winner of best director in Cannes Film Festival (2018) and the nominee of best film in Polish Film Festival (2018), FIPRESCI Film of the year in San Sebastián International Film Festival (2018) as well as People’s Choice Award in Toronto International Film Festival (2018).)


Which side of the landscape is better?Neither of them belong to us.

The film mainly tells about the love story between a polish male musician and a female singer before and after the beginning of the cold war. In search of freedom, the two went to France, then to Italy, Yugoslavia and other countries, but eventually went back to Poland. However, with facing a tougher political environment their love and marriage is subjected to severe tests, and the way home is even harder.


From my perspective, in the Poland part, on the one hand, the grey colour implies a depression and grey atmosphere after the transformation of polish society at that time. On the other hand, lots of fixed long lens were used in this part, as a result, both time and space were froze in screen , no one could escape from that.


In the Paris part, there appeared more sports long lens, the images were also high contrast, characters always existed outside the picture and tended to be separated from the environment, which represented the protagonists’ incompatibility with the general environment and strong sense of alienation.

What I liked most about this film is that, instead of simply binary opposites between Poland and France as well as Europe and western Europe, the director presented a complete picture of polish artists living in foreign countries. The escaped male musician Wiktor found freedom to some extent, but just as Zula (the female Polish singer) said, he was “no longer a man” only a coward with a decadent life and emotional ambivalence. All in all, in order to gain the recognition of the art world in Paris, he changed his artistic style, the simplicity of the polish folk song was gone, and the innocent love of music had faded. In a case where art lost its vitality from divorcing from the culture base, artists suffered from wandering life and counterintuitive creation, what is there to speak about freedom? What is freedom eventually? Where can we found this freedom? These were the questions that heroes and heroines faced ultimately, which also pointed to the tragic ending that they can never escape and never be able to find a home.