My opinion of Film Festival in counter-public and public sphere

In Cindy’s article, the author introduced the definition of public space in bourgeois social transformation based on Habermas, who is a renowned German sociologist and philosophe by best known for the public sphere. I understand the growth of capitalism and the history of European enlightenment empowered the public to voice and also reinforce the development of the public sphere. In addition, public sphere belongs to the private category, and it is not mandatory, which is also not subject to any authority interferences, doctrine and restrictions. I reckon that the public sphere is an inclusive space towards non-official freedom of speech, which indicated counter-hegemonic power structure.

Refer to the film festival; Film festivals are a long-term and continuous process of social formation and regenerate the public sphere. Different programming genres have stimulated the discourse of the public sphere by reinforcing the interested and rights of various social identities and groups, especially the subordinated groups. For example, the alternative film festivals around the world have become an effective way to promote the counterculture and the voice of counter-public.

The alternative “LGBT themes” film festival, such as Melbourne Queer Film Festival targets the LGBTQI group and North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in the U.S. I think the western society has proved more open space to include LGBTQI group’s social participation. Therefore, more possible the alternative film festivals have the social attention to involve in the public sphere.

In China, due to all kinds of social pressure, Beijing Queer Film Festival is the only queer group film festival. However, it provides the public forum, workshops among screenings to the public and social minority, including audiences and filmmakers to pay attention to the sexuality and gender identities discussion. I also think audiences participation in such alternative film festival can bring a strong sense of belonging and also create the discussion for the public sphere among online and offline space. The filmmaker can also find the place to screen their film, which considers as the mass arts. Internationally, the Queer film festival has connected with other countries to exchange films and promote the film festival program. Screening in other places and new audience engagement often encourage the public sphere. Also, the film committee in 2009 sent a representative to the Berlin Film Festival to attend the Teddy wards sections of the Panorama program. Queer film festival in China has made its way to become the international Queer film-screening network.

Apart from the alternative film festival, many A-list film festivals also include sections, which are related to the queer cinema or emphasis on the neglected social issues, such as the film about aboriginal people screening in Melbourne International Film Festival. In my opinion, film festivals that deal with counter-public have brought sufficient social value regarding social inclusion and voice power of subordinated individuals. The minority can express their right to the worldwide screen. Other counter-hegemonic social discourse in film festival also add meaning social and cultural value to the understanding the public sphere.


Cindy, De Valck, M., Kredell, B. and Loist, S. eds., 2016. Film festivals: History, theory, method, practice. Routledge.

Deklerck, 2011, Introduction of Beijing Queer Film Festival

Volunteers in film festival

Working as volunteers has become a popular way to engage in film festival among the youth. Every year, one of the most important parts of many film festivals is recruiting the volunteers. Volunteers also play essential roles in contributing to the film festival delivery in different ways. From world-renowned film festivals, such as Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival to small-scale sub-genre film festival, for example, Human Rights and Arts Festival.

 Based on my observation of the film festivals I attended, especially in MIFF, the volunteer in the film festival are always extroverted young people. They were energetic and accommodated with a smile on their face. Audiences can feel more inclusive at the film festival because of them.

The volunteering actions happened in the media-related festival, including the film festival, has always been researched. Many pieces of literature examined the impact of volunteer participation and the motivation of the volunteers. Some scholars mentioned volunteerism could be considered as ‘prosocial behavior,’ which shows an individual’s voluntary action intends to benefit others (Peaslee et al., 2014). The scholars also noted that volunteers always share a positive attitude and self-esteem, as well as good morality.

However, regarding recruiting the volunteers, the film festival organizer will formulate the specific guidelines and requirements to follow, which make competitions or sometimes even cutthroat competitions always remain. Regarding the specific film festival, In Shanghai International Film Festival, Volunteers are not only the important part of SIFF but also the “ambassador” who represent the Chinese culture and the city image of Shanghai. For the film festival, the high level of volunteers also contributes to the civic engagement. It also adds cultural and social value to build the cultural metropolis through the media event (Film Festival). For the volunteers, they can also gain unforgettable experiences by participating in the film festival. Additionally, some challenging requirements are 1. Candidates must have the ability to work under intensity and long time span. 2. Candidates should have both Chinese and English skill, and who have experience in working for the film festival, or overseas study background or speak minority language is preferred. Some positions include movie translation proofreader, forum Assistant, subtitle operator, and receptionist. There are many people apply for the different positions. Besides, Sundance Film Festival receives more than 3000 volunteer applications every year. The organizer will also conduct the selection process or a telephone interview (Lucas, 2017).

Apart from the benefits, which the film festival provides the volunteers, such as involved in the film industry and free access to many movie session. In order to secure the volunteers’ right and welfare, the organizer of the film festival should cover the personal accident insurance for every volunteer or reimburse the expenses. For example, the committee of SIFF will buy insurance for every volunteer and provide daily commute subsidy and working meal (SIFF, 2018). More, the committees of First Young Film Festival in China also provide free accommodation and essential subsidy (First Film Festival, 2018).

Hiring volunteers can sometimes be economical. Both film festival and volunteers can gain advantages from the volunteering actions. Although it is widely accepted that volunteer is free labor, it is also vital to pay attention to the basic right and interest of volunteer to maintain and sustain the enthusiastic participants and relationship between film festival and volunteers.


First Young Film Festival volunteer Recruitment Regulation, 2018. Retrieved from (In Chinese)

Lucas, 2017. How to become a volunteer on one of the international film festivals. Retrieved from

Peaslee, R.M., El-Khoury, J. and Liles, A., 2014. The media festival volunteer: Connecting online and on-ground fan labor. Transformative Works & Cultures15.

SIFF Volunteer Recruitment Regulation, 2018. Retrieved from (In Chinese)

Youth and film festival in China: Challenges and Opportunity

The film industry in China has become one of the fastest markets around the world. However, the demand for the filmmaker talents has exceeded the current talent pools, especially for the core talent, such as talented directors. Currently, In China, many festivals company are hunting for the young filmmakers to locate a more diverse filmmaking industry and introduce fresh ideas generated from young talent. To achieve that, like other countries in the world, there are many youth filmmaker-supporting programs launched in China’s film industry. Before talking that, it is worth mentioning some difficulties faced by the young directors in the process of making the film and career gateway in China.

Young director’s plight in China has also been one of the most significant issues. A report investigating China’s youth film director in 2017 reveal their current situation regarding their film career and society. Thirty young directors were interviewed, among them, 83% were the man and 17% are female. About 75% of them presented their debuts at the film festival, which indicated that participating in the film festival has become the essential way to bring them into the public. Besides, the most challenge part in pursuing their career is that funding issue. On the one hand, regarding life, 40% of the interviewees said they could not afford themselves or the family by making the film. Only two young directors said they could generate high income from their movie. On the other hand, regarding film investment, only 40% represented they debuts were invested from the professional filmmaking company, and 22% received the investment from private investors. Also, there were up to 38% has generated the investment from themselves to produce the first film.

As I mentioned above, in China, there are many young film director-supporting programs are introduced into the film industry. During the past decade, there are 28 youth directors supporting plan announced, including more than 2 billion RMB funding. From renewed film directors, particular supporting young director funding sector based on the famous film festival, to hosting youth film festival, there are many opportunities for the young directors.

For example, China’s famous director and screenwriter- Jia Zhangke initiated a program named “Wing Project” in 2010 to support the young talent directors by raising billions into film investment.


(Zhangke Jia and Wings Project, photo credit:

Shanghai International Film Festival and Beijing International Film festival, the two important film festival in China also launched the annually youth supporting project named “Venture Capital (Chuang Tou Hui). Meanwhile, All sectors regard the young filmmaker in First Youth Film Festival. All of them aim at offering more financial capital and industry support into young filmmakers.


(SIFF Project 2018 for young directors, photo credit:

However, Ironically, although young filmmakers can receive financial supporting, they still cannot find enough marketing space in domestic cinemas. Therefore, many of them prefer to bring their film oversea and participate in the overseas film festival to win awards and sell overseas copyright. It has also become the main commercial loop for many young directors. Besides, In China, apart from government, private enterprises, the financial support from Film Festival is only accounted 9.7%.

Young directors always consider as the future of the film industry. However, the remain challenges in pursuing their career have forced young director, the functions of the film festival, private investor, or the whole industry in the society to continually search for the proper way to support the young filmmaker’s future.


The investigation of the young director in China 2017, Huanqiu, viewed 27 August 2018, (In Chinese)

Who did the 28 domestic youth director supporting programs support in the past decade?, Renmin Wang, viewed 24 August 2018, (In Chinese)

Yeh, E.Y.Y. and Davis, D.W., 2008. Re-nationalizing China’s film industry: case study on the China Film Group and film marketization. Journal of Chinese Cinemas2(1), pp.38-40.

Image Resource:

Cross-culture communication in film festival from my film festival experiences

As one of the most popular art forms around the world, watching movies has been an effective way for audiences to explore the other side of the society and culture where you are not familiar with or even never heard of. Nowadays, what I appreciated most is the cross-cultural phenomenon embedded in the increasing number of film festivals.

I have attended some film festivals in the last five years, including Latin American Film Festival happened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; FIRST International Young Film Festival arrived in Xining, China, and Melbourne International Film Festival. From my perspective, the meaning of film festival that I attended is far more than red carpet and media attention but positioned as the functional mechanism to provoke the cross-cultural collaboration and participation together with other art forms to generate a significant individual and social change.

In contemporary society, many film festivals had introduced the cross-cultural screen to people from the different cultural background. The first festival I attended was Latin American Film festival back in 2015. Before that, I had never watched any Latin America movies. Because I was invited to participate the celebration as a reporter, I interviewed one of the organizers, who is also the ambassador of Colombia, I remembered the person told me what they wanted to achieve was the audiences could find the cultural and social richness of the Latin American countries through their free screening movies. The festival opening ceremony was quite unique. It was a middle-scale free buffet open to the public, which served the variety of traditional food and drinks. I felt like the film festival can also represent sharing for different people. It is not only about screening the movie but also a massive integration of culture.


(Image Credit: LIFESTYLE

Next, I would like to share my experience of MIFF. As the top Film festival in Melbourne, one of the highly multicultural cities in the world, it is definitely fully demonstrated the cross-cultural communication and collaboration. More than 400 films were showing at the festival, which is a high amount. On its official websites, audiences can search movies by different categories, such as Countries and Languages, genres and themes, directors, access options…

My friends and I watched the movie recommended by our lectures: “Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley.” It is the first documentary I watched about Australia Aboriginal people. The film was fantastic; because it gave me the first impression of their culture and also helped me to understand the dilemma faced by indigenous people in their northwest homeland. Before I came to Australia, I have heard about the indigenous people, but I knew nothing about them, for example, where they live, how they face city modernization, The premiere screening also included the Welcome speech of director and producers, as well as the live performance by musician Albert Wiggan from Kimberley. I even impressed by the music. Even though I did not catch what lyrics he sang very well, I still immersed my self in the whole session. Speech, music, in-depth conversation, and the movie made the unique features of the film festival to engage with audiences and convey the social and cultural implication. After watching, I hope more people can watch the movie, and to at least gain some knowledge about the people who may be neglected by the society or even makes a small change by first caring about their culture via film festival.


(Before screening)


(Sculpture in Theatre where the documentary screened)