The impact of sponsors on film festivals

See the World through Women’s Eyes! This is the slogan of the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival (SIWFF). The SIWFF was founded in 1997, has been dedicated to promoting the status of women in society and providing a platform for cultural exchange for women from different countries (SIWFF 2018). The Festival has always focused on the creation of women’s movies, and has been focusing on exploring new Asian women filmmakers and promoting the status of women filmmakers in the film industry.

The 20th SIWFF Poster

The 20th Seoul International Women’s Film Festival aims to guide women filmmakers and women’s films throughout the film industry. There is no doubt that SIWFF has grown into a world-wide international women’s Film Festival with audience’s love and trust, and this year ushered in the 20th anniversary of the world’s attention. At the same time, it has aroused widespread international resonance, reflecting the current trend of women’s films.

According to relevant information, the most famous women’s film festivals come from Asian countries, such as Seoul International Women’s Film Festival and Aichi International Women’s Film Festival. However, in western countries, the scale of women’s film festivals is relatively small. As far as I know, there is a women’s Film Festival in Melbourne, which has been growing up in the past two years. It is called the Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) which was founded in 2017 (MWFF 2017). They share a common goal: to focus on women filmmakers and women’s films for the sake of gender equality.

The logo of MWFF

In this article, I will focus on the impact of sponsors on film festivals. Through the understanding and comparison of the two festivals, I found that sponsors played an important role in the festival. There is no doubt that commercial sponsorship offers the potential to attract some significant financial and in kind support (Eldridge, P & Voss, J, p. 23). On their website, we can see that SIWFF has a large number of sponsors and covers all walks of life.

Sponsors of SIWFF

On the contrary, there are relatively few sponsors of the MWFF.

Sponsor of MWFF

Of course, as SIWFF has a longer history, the number of sponsors must be more than that of MWFF. But what we can know is that sponsors have affected the organization and scale of film festivals to a certain extent. It is clear that when organizing a film festival, it is very important to seek sponsors. Therefore, how to get financial support from sponsors has become an important part of organizing a film festival. According to Eldridge and Voss, ‘it is important to think carefully about what you may have to offer each company you approach’ (Eldridge, P & Voss, J, p.23). Thus, when attracting investment, we need to pay attention to strategies and ways.

In conclusion, these two film festivals have chosen the theme of the unique film festival, focusing on the power of women. As a famous female film festival, SIWFF shows its mature side and is constantly innovating. For example, this year, SIWFF newly adds International Feature Competition section to speak for women through films that deliver values of gender equality in a critical mind (SIWFF 2018). Its vision is no longer confined to the Asian market, but broadened to the international market. Nevertheless, the MWFF is still very young, it has boundless potential to become better.



Eldridge, P & Voss, J, how to set up a film festival, bfi, pp. 1- 35, viewed

SIWFF 2018, Overview, Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, viewed 2018,

WMFF 2017, About MWFF, Melbourne Women in Film Festival, viewed 2017,

Author: Haihui Hu – 27708829

IDFA: the mode of a successful film festival

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), founded in 1988 (IDFA, 2018). Its purpose is to promote the development of documentary culture worldwide and takes place each November in Amsterdam (IDFA, 2018) . Meanwhile, it is also the largest Documentary Festival in the world. Like most festivals, IDFA events include performances, conversations and debates with filmmakers, protagonists and special guests (IDFA, 2018).


IDFA has a clear standard for film selection. Briefly, IDFA seeks this style of documentaries: innovative, social-related, and able to communicate freely with the audience. As a documentary film festival, IDFA has its own unique attraction.

IDFA is committed to focusing on creative and distinctive documentaries. IDFA is dedicated to focusing on creative and distinctive documentaries and showing them to the public in different ways. For example, in addition to the movie screening, there is a new media program: IDFA Doclab. The best interactive non-fiction storytelling is showcased through the IDFA DocLab. At the same time, it also explored how the digital revolution reshaped documentary art (IDFA 2018).

Besides, IDFA provides a wide range of educational programs for talented documentary filmmakers. For instance, the IDFAcademy offers a international training programs for up-and-coming doc talents.

People at the festival have very different preferences. All kinds of fans come to the festival for a common purpose: to return to reality. Many people in interviews, regardless of their age or occupation, answered at most one sentence: “We like to see the real thing (Knews 2012).” The documentary on IDFA covers a wide range of themes and different life journeys around the world. Therefore, the audience can complete a unique global tour through the screening of the film.

IDFA attaches great importance to communication. It provides a platform for communication to the film industry. In order to the development of filmmakers and their films at all stage, IDFA has organized a lot of communication events ( IDFA 2018). Firstly, IDFA Forum filmmakers and producers pitch their plans to financiers at co-financing and co-production market ( IDFA 2018). Secondly, promoting the sales of high quality documentaries by the Docs for Sale which is the world’s premiere market for creative documentary cinema (IDFA 2018). Thirdly, the IDFA Bertha Found aims to support talented filmmakers and innovative documentary projects from developing countries. The Fund not only provides financial support to filmmakers, but also provides customized advisory and training programs to support their creative and production processes. In addition, filmmakers are invited to participate in various industry events offered by IDFA and to expand their knowledge of the international network and documentary industry.

Furthermore, IDFA has also provided viewers with a platform for in-depth understanding of documentaries, whether online or offline. For example, the Q&A session after the screening, enabling audience have access to know more about the documentary. Moreover, audiences can also interact with other viewers through IDFA’s Facebook or Twitter.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that IDFA has given me a lot of inspiration about how to set up a film festival. More importantly, IDFA provides a good model in terms of form and content. These contents will help to organize and plan our film festival.



IDFA 2018, about IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Viewed 2018,


Knews 2012, The twenty-fifth IDFA ended, Film information, viewed 3 December 2012,


Lewes, H 2005, International documentary film festival – Amsterdam, Take 1, Vol. 49, no. 13, pp. 42- 43, Viewed March 2005,

Author: Haihui Hu – 27708829

Focusing on the power of young filmmakers: FIRST International Film Festival

FIRST is an International Film Festival held in Qinghai Province, China every year. In July, media workers, filmmakers and fans from all over China come to Xining City, Qinghai Province, because of FIRST. The FIRST International Film Festival was born in the civil organisations, so its atmosphere is the most relaxed in China. Since 2006, FIRST has sent many new young filmmakers to the film industry every year. As the council of FIRST has mentioned, FIRST is involved in the current Chinese youth film industry in the form of a film festival, focusing on the early films of outstanding young directors.

Icon of FIRST

The main part of the film festival is composed of competition unit, exhibition unit, theme forum, young filmmakers training camp, youth film project venture capital meeting and so on.

There are also many special events in the FIRST International Film Festival. On the one hand, they have attracted the attention of the public. On the other hand, the organization of special events is worth learning by us. In this blog, I will highlight three special events in the FIRST.

Industry exhibition of FIRST

Firstly, the Industry exhibition. FIRST Industry exhibition was set up in 2017 to extend the viewing chain of high-quality film products and establish an equal platform for dialogue and cognition between film products and the film industry. This special event shows the films by young authors, providing special screening opportunities for festival industry guests prior to Festival premieres. There is no doubt that through the platform guidance of the industry exhibition, the filmmaker and the capital can achieve a fair and professional transaction here.

Secondly, the youth film project venture capital meeting. FIRST venture capital aims to provide a communication platform for young filmmakers, film projects and film industry. As a financing platform for young filmmakers, FIRST Venture Capital has set up training workshops, on-site proposals, and make appointments for the filmmakers and the investors. This event opens up a more comprehensive perspective for producers and other industry representatives to achieve a win-win situation.

At last, the young filmmakers training camp. A high-quality film course, which invites world-renowned filmmakers to give 12 Chinese young filmmakers a four-day training course every year. It aims at refining individual style and cultivating independent director consciousness at the limit of time and minimalism. In 2018, FIRST training camp conducted 10 days of classroom teaching and live shooting. The young directors will participate in the short film creation practice during the training camp and attend the premiere of the short film collection.

In my opinion, the above three special events are the brilliant designs in the FIRST Youth Film Festival. These special events not only provide opportunities for film producers to communicate, but also provide a platform for film producers to connect with the film industry. Through the review of the FIRST, I know that the film festival is not only for the audience to enjoy the arts, but also for the better development of outstanding film producers. As a youth film festival, FIRST focuses on the strength of young directors and makes greater contributions to the film industry. In the memory formation mechanism of contemporary film history, FIRST provides the world with a polysemous sample of Chinese youth films.


FIRST. (2018). About FIRST. Retrieved from

FIRST. (2018). Exhibition and activities. Retrieved from

The Planning Skills of Film Festival from MIFF

Before attending the Melbourne International Film Festival, I thought the film festival was far away from my life. In the past, I only learned about film festivals through Internet or TV programs. However, by attending MIFF, I began to have new ideas about the film festival. In my opinion, the film festival is not only a grand gathering for filmmakers but also a platform for ordinary people to discover art and explore life. As the Kirsten mentioned in her book, the mission of film festivals is not to cater to the tastes of the public or the established interests of royal audiences, but to find audiences for movies of great value.

Melbourne International Film Festival is the first international film festival in Australia. It is also one of the most influential international film festival in the Southern Hemisphere. As a not-for-profit organisation, MIFF provides transformative experiences for audiences and filmmakers alike. However, in Kirsten’s book, we can learn that in the 1980s, MIFF experienced decline and faced many challenges. This situation did not recover until the 1985s. After reorganising the council, MIFF adjusted its specific objectives and program organisation in 1987s. The film festival recognises the importance of changes in audiences and decides to relocate MIFF. There is no doubt that MIFF has become a festival for audiences to provide different movie experiences since 1990s. But, more importantly, MIFF also provides a platform for publicity of Australian non-mainstream films and international films.

By attending the MIFF, I not only have a new idea of the film festival but also learn more strategies about the film festival planning. Firstly, the selection of the venue. In Kirsten’s book, she mentioned that in 2008, curator and critic Lynden Barber mentioned the selection of MIFF venues, noting:

For more than a decade MIFF has been blessed with an unusually well-placed series of venues, all within short walking distance of one another and in an area packed with cafes, bar and restaurants. All of this has helped to create that undefinable but infectious festival atmosphere that attracts audiences and make them want to come back.

It can be seen that the selection of venues is very important. The film festival I attended was held at the Forum Theatre. The Forum theatre has a long history and offers a rich cultural atmosphere for audiences. When I first walked into the building, I was fascinated by its unique decoration.

The entrance to the Forum Theatre

The hall of the Forum Theatre

Secondly, their special events. The documentary I watched in MIFF is called UNDERMINED: TALES FROM THE KIMBERLEY. Before the film began, the actors were arranged to perform a musical performance for the audience. To be honest, movie-related music enables viewers to enter the scene faster. Moreover, after the end of the screening, there was also a Q&A session. Obviously, the face-to-face communication between the audience and the creator can make the audience understand the film better.

The Q&A session

At last, souvenirs related to films. For example, when the event ended, the volunteers sent a small card to the audience.

As shown in the photo, the front of the card is the Kimberley landscape, and the back is asking people to take action. This card is not only a souvenir for the audience, but also a convenient message for people who want to protect the aboriginal culture.

In general, the MIFF gave me a lot of inspiration about the planning of the festival, which is very helpful for my future study.



MIFF. (2018). About MIFF.  Retrieved from

MIFF. (2018). Undermined: Tales From The Kimberley. Retrieved from  

Stevens K. (2016) A Festival for Every Occasion: Niche Programming, Event Culture, and Vertically Integrated Film Festivals. In: Australian Film Festivals. Framing Film Festivals. Palgrave Macmillan, New York