How to Establish a Film Festival

After I finished the week 8 lecture I started to think about how to make our film festival attractive and meaningful. The topic of the week 8 lecture is Film Festival and counter public sphere. I remember when someone asked whether the Korean Film Festival is a part of counter-public sphere film festival, I started to think of our own major film festival which is on the 9th and 10th of October.


The interesting fact is our film festival’s topic is about immigration, I considered the core factors and elements of our topic and classified our film festival under the column “counter-public sphere”. The reason why I think our film festival belongs to this category is based on the definition that “Counterpublics are formed as a response to the exclusions of the dominant public and that their existence better promotes the ideal of participatory parity.” (Lecture notes) The selected films of our festival are either made by immigrants or their theme is to reflect the lives of immigrants. Thus, I think our film festival is a part of the counterpublics sphere.


But how to make our film festival success? That has been questioning us since we’ve been given the topic of our festival. During the lecture, we have been told that film that exposed the lives of minorities and drives audiences to seek another way of living is a good film to be demonstrated during the festival. Professor also highlighted that a festival’s audiences cannot be everyone. Take these into our consideration we believe that the film which reveals the real life of immigrants and stimulates people to think and reflect on the topic is a perfect film for our festival.

Just like the first women film festival in the 1970s which stimulate the earliest feminist movement and egalitarian principles and other modern-day LGBTQI film festivals which created the counterpublics sphere for those people’s citizenships. I think using cinematic materials to reflect and represent the lives on the other side can successfully help to create a brighter future rather than use political decisions (Heath 2018, pp.50-51). And such conclusion can answer the question which professor gave us at the end of the lecture. How to establish a film festival? I think a festival that can help people rethink and seek alternative solutions could be considered as a successful film festival.





Heath,T, 2018, ‘Saving space: strategies of space reclamation at early women’s film festivals and queer film festivals today’, Studies in European Cinema, Vol. 15, Issue. 1, pp: 41-54, DOI: 10.1080/17411548.2018.1432924

Film festival and its job

When questioning the functions of a film festival I originally thought it was a ceremony that created by specific people on celebrating purpose. According to the lecture, there are three main characteristics that a film festival has: 1. To make significant contributions for achieving communities’ social, cultural and economic goals. 2. To provide a sanctuary for filmmakers and film lovers to discuss and exchange thoughts. 3. To raise voices for subaltern groups. (Lecture notes) But after I attended the Korean Film Festival in ACIM many ideas and thoughts were changed.


I went to the opening night of the Korean Film Festival on 6th of September. The opening film is named “A Taxi Driver” which tells a devastated tragic story happened in Gwangju, South Korea 1980. This story was based on a true historical event, the story depicted the political movement occurred in Gwangju after the current president of South Korea during that time was assassinated. The leaderboard of the government was a mess and the authority was taken over by a high-rank military officer and the way he ruled the country was brutal. Civilians of Gwangju took the street and protest for their rights but they got shot and received unfairness violence responses. A taxi driver helps a German reporter record the entire events and get back to his country. The film reflects the social status during that time period and reveals the truth behind this event.

The film plot is simple, but it reveals the truth of what happened during that time. But when we talked about this film in this film festival, I think it becomes the fourth characteristic: It helps people to understand the culture and civilization of this theme. The Korean Film Festival does not aim to raise voice for subaltern groups but understand the culture and history of South Korea. In Yolal T, (2015)’s article, they argued that festivals and events signal place distinctiveness, create appeal, add interest, enliven image, and thus attract visitors, investors, and sponsors and their associated revenue streams. Put this into consideration I personally believe it has become one essential element in establishing a film festival.

Yolal T, et. al (2015) also suggested that understand consumer’s behavior is also an important factor in establishing a film festival. Take my own experiences as one example, the motivation for me to attend this festival is to understand the culture of South Korean. I noticed that there are also many Korean inside audience groups then I asked them why they came to this festival. It appeals that actually many of them also want to know more about their country’s culture. And the festival producer said that their purpose is to let more people understand the culture and history background of their country.






Yolal, M, Veronica Rus,R, Cosma, S & Gursoy, D, 2015, ‘A Pilot Study on Spectators’ Motivations and Their Socio-Economic Perceptions of a Film Festival’, Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, pp: 253-271, DOI: 10.1080/15470148.2015.1043610

Why people come to film festival?

What makes a film festival unique? If I am a film festival organizer, what should I do to make my festival attractive? These questions keep floating in my mind ever since I joined the lecture. The topic we discussed during week four explained all my confusions by introducing Bourdieu’s “Capital, Habitus and Field” concepts.

When we apply Bourdieu’s “field” concept with the film festival, it indicates that film festival is a field of cultural production. Usually, the film in film festival are excluded from the mainstream commercial-based Hollywood industry, what it provides is a place for artistic film and distributes a notion that ‘art for art’s sake.’ At film festival films also encourage people to discuss and engage with their contents. A place that shapes people’s arts’ taste. In other words, the film festival is both playing a role as gatekeeper and tastemaker (Lecture notes Week 4).

In Yolal, M, Veronica Rus, R, Cosma, S & Gursoy, D (2016)’s article they examined the motivations for people to attend the film festival, taking Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) as a case. The results illustrated that film festival are no longer acting like a small gala for film professionals and scholars, it now starts attracting visitors outside the industries. According to the survey, one important reason for participants in TIFF is for a cultural learning opportunity. Scholars claimed that the importance of film festival is on building community cohesion as well (Yolal, M, Veronica Rus, R, Cosma, S & Gursoy, D 2016, pp. 266-267).

On the other hand, specific film festival also provides counter-public spaces for marginalized people and subjects. A study done by Heath, T (2018) indicates that LGBT/queer film festival not only provides consolidate community and identity experience but also notify the government and social environment. Such film festivals are not the educational purpose nor shaping the public’s tastes. But they serve a more important goal, to shout out for human rights and raise awareness for the specific group among society. “The LGBT/queer film festival can be viewed as the performance of a radical queer citizenship and counter-public. Through the acknowledgment of a queer past and development of political strategies for the future, they offer a glimpse of what a queer utopian space might look like.” (Heath, T 2018, pp. 51).

In conclusion, the film festival provides not only an opportunity for studying and communicating with different cultures and histories, it also performs as a platform for people to disseminate their thoughts and voices to the public. The film festival is not just about the film itself, it’s a carrier for civilizations to endure.






Yolal, M, Veronica Rus, R, Cosma, S & Gursoy, D, 2015, ‘A Pilot Study on Spectators’ Motivations and Their Socio-Economic Perceptions of a Film Festival’, Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, pp: 253-271, DOI: 10.1080/15470148.2015.1043610


Heath, T, 2018, ‘Saving space: strategies of space reclamation at early women’s film festivals and queer film festivals today’, Studies in European Cinema, Vol. 15, Issue. 1, pp: 41-54, DOI: 10.1080/17411548.2018.1432924


Why film festival is essential?


The film – Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley is a documentary about the cost of developing in the famous north-west corner of Australia and the conflicts between the government and indigenous people who live in there. This film was shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2018, and I am fortunate to have an opportunity to view it at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The event I went was on August 11th, at the beginning the procedure of entering a film festival I experienced was no different than going out for a movie at the theater. After we finished watching the film, the host of the festival brought the film producer and subjects on the stage and had a wonderful Q&A session with the audiences who came to the stage. I didn’t stay until the very end of the session due to another up-coming event on that day but the experiences I had on that day have changed my view of the film festival.

I never attended any types of film festival before, my only memory and knowledge of the film festival are from news reports and television. I used to think a film festival is like a big conference which invites a lot of famous directors, actors and critics to leave comments on newly released films, or like a fashion gala for celebrities. In fact, the function of the film festival is way beyond what I thought before. According to the book “Film Festival: History, Theroy, Method, Practice” by De Valck, Kredell and Loist (2016), film festivals resemble a classic public sphere for not only men in production, distribution but also create an open arena for people to debate about the film, explicating their thoughts and ideas. As Haaink and Yong-sook (2018) discussed in their paper, the annual film festival was started in Europe 70 years ago and the major purpose back then was to boom up and promote local film industry, this phenomenon still exists in today. For example, the establishment of Busan International Film Festival due to economic reasons because Busan needed a new industry for regenerating its economy. BIFF doesn’t have a very long history, but it achieved enormous success and it plays a vital role in showing Asian films to the west (Haaink, R and Yong-Sook, L. 2018 pp. 939-940).

However, the operating pattern for MIFF is similar to the A-list film festival which favor “art films” competition rather than budget-based Hollywood films. In this case, “Undermined” is a documentary created based on the controversial government development on the north-west corner of Australia. The director illustrates a reverse angle of how civilization damage the pristine environment. The MIFF provides audiences who purchased this ticket a chance to listen and understand the meaning behind each scene and filmmakers’ perspective toward the topic. Moreover, the documentary raises everyone including the government’s attention to this topic. The festival itself is neutral and unbiased but the films it presented to us is not just playing a role of exchanged commodities but the interactions among thoughts (De Valck, Kredell, B and Loist, S. 2016 pp. 93-95). The journey to the MIFF inspired me on how to prepare my own film festival.







De, VM, Kredell, B, & Loist, S (eds) 2016, Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, Routledge, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.



Hassink, R, & Yong-Sook, L 2018, ‘Exploring international film festivals from a co-evolutionary perspective: the cases of Berlin and Busan compared’, European Planning Studies, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 933-949. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2018.1446912.