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Who Cares About Festivals?

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Mark Kermode | 16:20 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2012

This Friday Robert Redford is coming on the 5 live programme to talk about launching Sundance London.

What I want to know is are festivals really important and who goes to them?

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  • Comment number 1.

    I went to Cannes twice and the only films I managed to get to see was a fabulous documentary called 'The Story of the Weeping Camel' which was an early morning screening that was viewed on no sleep and an emerging hangover, Gus Van Sants 'Elephant' and 'Kill Bill part deux'. Two out of the three films ended up being really good and Kill Bill became somewhere to have a nice long snooze in between the rambling dialogue.
    Being there trying to sell a few films i had worked on clouded my idea of what the festival was like and it would be nice to go back and actually experience the place without running from meeting to meeting, party to party and trying to avoid wading in the quagmire of bullshit that flows around the place.
    over the last decade i have helped out at the London Sci-Fi film festival and that has been a totally different experience. I have managed to see some fantastic films from around the world (some bad, a few terrible and quite a lot excellent.) I even managed to have a lightsaber fight with David Prowse crutches until he walked out of the screening he was presenting and caught us making silly noises and duelling with his NHS appendages.
    All in all i believe festivals can be enjoyed if you are a punter but avoided if you are there in a working capacity.

  • Comment number 2.

    having thoroughly enjoyed the dodge brothers and The Ghost @ Cambridge this weekend I am loathe to say anything bad about festivals. also a few years ago I went to a silent film festival @ Harwich Electric Palace which was fantastic.

    It is in this space that I think festivals work best where they are enabling people to see cinema that would otherwise be inaccessible.

    My grouch however is to do with the international festival circuit and having to wait until January the following year for a UK release date for films that have been premièred at Cannes or Venice eg Brokeback Mountain and more recently Shame.

  • Comment number 3.

    Bradford is a great film festival as its one of the places that shows pretty much exclusively classic films. I also believe it houses one of the three working Cinerama screens in the world, and every other year they play Stanley Kubrick's 2001 in Cinerama as well as How the West Was Won and other films that were filmed for the format.

    That's exciting for me. Cannes/Toronto/Venice have no interest because they are showing films which I will eventually see as they are released throughout that respective year, but Bradford and other festivals show films which are older than I am and films which I have never before had the chance to see before other than on DVD. And I think that's important, it gives audiences a chance to see those films properly, as well as screening other obscure classics from actors or directors which may never have been seen

  • Comment number 4.

    Within a week of having moved to London to study film, a friend scored tickets to Che Part 1 at the London Film Festival. The screening followed by a Q&A with Steven Soderbergh took place in a huge Leicester Square cinema. Having grown up in Cornwall having only access to a tiny Wadebridge cinema, the experience blew my mind. Watching a film that I not only enjoyed in the perfect environment with the opportunity to ask the director everything and anything, is something that I won't forget in a long time.

    I have since attended many such screenings and every time I feel that not only my understanding and insight of a particular film is expanded but of 'film' as a whole.

  • Comment number 5.

    I've never been to a film festival even though I do live in Toronto, but I would say Cannes is the one I'm most interested in. I'm sure as Mark describes, it's absolutely horrible trying to get in to screenings, but being able to get a peek at some of the most exciting films of the year many months in advance of them coming out is always quite exciting, and the line up this year looks really really strong.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've only been to the Mar De Plata International Film Festival in Argentina and I really enjoyed the vibe and atmosphere, a place where film fans and filmmakers alike can sit down and watch films in a secluded and calm atmosphere in a breathtaking setting.

    However its the Cannes Film Festival that's the most significant. Not because of prestige, although that does help shift films from the arthouses into the mainstream (Drive is one main example) However the main reason of its importance is that the festival is the world's film hypermarket. Funds are raised for future films and also distributors buy up films for the territory they represent. Not to mention in recent years the festival has become instrumental in premiering summer blockbusters. I read that during the 1980s when Cannon was running the rings around the film world, the festival became the main outlet for exploitation and straight to video stock, and if The Last Exorcism is anything to go by, then things haven't changed so much.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dr K,
    You say “just a bunch of critics and filmmakers” like it’s a bad thing. The festival concept, for good or ill, represents a reaction to what an increasing number of people feel is banal, studio cinema.

    Having never been to a festival myself, I can imagine that there is also a good amount of pretention and snobbery, but if quality movies find audiences and distributers, then the whole exercise is worth it.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Colonial Commoner (American-born Canadian), I’m lucky enough to be able to attend the Toronto International Film Festival. This film festival is known as “the people’s festival,” and although it seems like every year it’s harder and more expensive to see the films, I think this moniker is still valid. TIFF can please everyone. There’s Oscar-bait (“Slumdog Millionaire” and “The King’s Speech” both won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF before they won Oscars), experimental, avant garde, the best of foreign language films, cutting-edge horror (the Midnight Madness screenings are among the most popular at the festival), documentaries, short films, and more.

    This festival has played a big role in my movie viewing life for the last 10 years. I promote lots of things I've seen at TIFF to my family and friends when the films show up in theatres or on DVD. The press may focus on the movie stars, directors, and producers, but thousands of ordinary folk from around the world come every year to immerse themselves in film.

  • Comment number 9.

    I went to the LIAF (london international animation festival) last year. It was the first time i'd ever been to a festival but i'm a big fan of animation so i thought i might as well go and see what it was like. I was amazed at the range of films shown from people I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Yes, film critics and industry insiders probably benefit the most from festivals but they are still a great way of spreading the word about smaller films and filmmakers who otherwise would pass under the radar.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think we need them for sure, are they always good or as in the bigger ones (Cannes, Edinburgh etc) accessible ticket wise for the non-critic is debatable. Sundance is proof of the massive contribution these can make to exposure of great low moneyed projects and should be saluted. I live in Edinburgh and although I usually don't get the time off to participate I love the atmosphere that our film festival brings to the city, and its great that in recent years they use mainstream cinemas to air art house or at least atypipcial films premiers in cineplex venues. Ta.

  • Comment number 11.

    I sort of care about the Cannes film festival in the sense that I'm usually interested in certain films and look forward to seeing them eventually. But it's not much fun reading a review and thinking, "Oh that sounds great, I'll be sure to see that in 6 months!"
    But in terms of actually going, I've only been to a few screenings at the LFF and am interested in going to some of the talks and also seeking out alternative festivals in London...

  • Comment number 12.

    I admit, I've never been to a film festival and would like to go to one someday, but knowing about them through reviews and online blogs and news headings makes them, in my mind, really important. The audience is not just a bunch of actors and high-browed critics enjoying each other’s company, but also people, like me, excited to able to get a sneak peek or an advance screening at some of the most exciting films of the year many months in advance of them coming out, which is always quite exciting.

    But I would also say that film festivals can be important in the marketing campaign, Cannes being a key factor in that campaign and the one festival that most people interested in. For example, last year, The Artist and Melancholia premiered at Cannes, becoming hits there and generating massive hype and buzz for their official release at cinemas later in the year.

    So, in the end, film festivals do matter and are important.

  • Comment number 13.

    Living in the Netherlands I try to go to the International Film Festival in Rotterdam every year. It is a wonderful festival with a frankly ridiculous amount of films from all over the world showing all through the city during the week it lasts. It is beyond impossible to make an informed choice even with all the information provided so we always end up seeing surpising, strange and wonderful things. A great number of the films they show there, in particular the short films, will never be shown in a dutch cinema outside of the festival and will never be released on DVD, so it is a great pleasure to be able to see them at all. I must say I do tend to avoid the award ceremonies and things they have going on, but if that stuff helps make the festival possible, I think it's all good.

  • Comment number 14.

    As someone who is a young filmmaker trying to get an audience of some kind it would be near impossible for me to find one without film festivals. I think they're fantastic on the whole. And yes, the audience I may find might only be a panel of judges or the few that dare venture into short film screenings but otherwise how would independent filmmakers get their films seen?

  • Comment number 15.

    Dr K.

    There is not real festival that does it for me. What I love is the surprises that come out of them, the first reactions if you will which is where a lot of films get their first screenings. At some festivals its interesting to see which of the more higher profile films standout or fall flat on their face. This year's Cannes is interesting as the main competition features films that I'm very much looking forward to such as new films from John Hillcoat, Ken Loach, David Cronenberg to name but a few so it will be interesting to see how those films come across.

    Other times festivals work as a showcase for films that otherwise would struggle to see the light of day. Some films that I probably never would've heard of emerge from festivals to rapturous applause and praise, even you at times praise certain films that you see at festivals and further champion them on.

    So yes festivals are important for me as they show first reaction to films and sometimes highlight otherwise unknown films that I then seek out.

    And of course where would we be without the madness of some festivals. We need something to talk about. We need the madness of Cannes, of Von Trier making silly comments about being a nazi and all that. But that is purely a bonus. The main point are the films.

  • Comment number 16.

    When I was much younger and still had aspirations of taking the film world by storm, I attended the Telluride Film Festival for several years. I found the experience incredible - mingling with other potential filmmakers from all around the world, occasionally getting to interact with filmmakers I admire (Clint Eastwood was there one year to present White Hunter, Black Heart, Stephen Frears was there several times), getting to mingle in the same mob as legends like Jimmy Stewart, discussing films with Roger Ebert and Laura Dern, and seeing films of talented new directors (I saw Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Rodriguez's El Mariachi at the festival), all these are experiences I treasure. Yes, festivals are marketplaces (and I attended Cannes one year with a short film I was trying to market. I was a lousy marketer, but saw some good films) and the large ones (like Cannes and Toronto) can be overwhelming but small festivals where the filmmakers are accessible can be stimulating and can charge a film lover's soul. I know they do for me.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's these festivals that you, and then consequently me heard about Iron Sky so yes I pay attention to them

  • Comment number 18.

    They are festivals. For films. Like Glastonbury and Cropredy are festivals for music. Surely whether or not they have any intrinsic artistic value is irrelevant; that isn't the point of them.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well if it wasn't for the Silent Film Festival I'd never have seen the last 5 seconds of 'Ghost' accompanied in D for the first time ... ;-) Love it, thanks.

  • Comment number 20.

    Fortune is part of it: Having been living in Edinburgh, The International Film Festival itself is just a part of the Edinburgh Festival(s): Film, Comedy, Jazz, Book, Theatres... the list goes on.

    It's a wee expensive, but you come across films you might have missed, you experience screenings of films perhaps before anyone has really heard of them and can pass on the vibe about them eg "Tears Of The Black Tiger": When people are out there making this sort of riot of a film Western-melodrama you have found enough reason already as a punter!

    Also The director of The Warrior (ok film) spoke to the audience about meeting other film people and in the FilmHouse (Hoose?) Cinema and that being the reason for it all starting. Also saw some films I've never heard about since (Tamil film about a village elder's new dachund that causes mayhem in the village over an afternoon!) so again unique opportunities.

    Again with London Film Festival, tickets get snapped up faast! So that's one of the problems, but with the venues eg Cameo in Edinburgh and other cinema venues that imo enhance the atmosphere, similar interests people together, it's worth getting hold of those tickets if you can.

  • Comment number 21.

    I recently went to my first film festival in Berlin and I have to say it was brilliant! From the on stage Q & A with Juliette Binoche to watching three films a day that you would never have seen otherwise. It was fantastic. I'm now planning to go to Edinburgh in June.

  • Comment number 22.

    Mark, maybe festivals are more important for those in the industry than the audience itself, but it's that's ok - festivals are a vital and necessary bridge for new filmmakers without which they would struggle to break into the industry.

    I will soon shoot my first short movie and without festivals into which to enter it, I can't really see how I would secure an audience, however small. Without festivals, aspiring filmmakers would lose hope and interest - and with them would go a plethora of wonderful, independent movies and the chance to eventually bring great talent to worldwide audiences.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Mark, last year during your book tour, at Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, I asked in the Q&A session: "do you think that mainstream film critics should do more for regional film festivals?". I did ask knowing that you would give a good answer, rather than wanting to put you on the spot, but you have gone above and beyond putting your money where your mouth is when you answered that yes, they should be.

    I am about to begin my Film Studies MA dissertation on the role of film festivals and film societies as an alternative distribution model, and although I'm sure my overall thesis will evolve throughout the process I will be examining how festivals working better together as a network, along with working closely with accompanying film societies, will vastly improve what festivals are currently best at: getting those lesser - if at all - heard about titles to audiences, in order to see how they play and therefore convince some distributor somehwhere that they are worth picking up. If films that play well at some film festivals can be then played at others, and play similarly well, it could be that a film that wouldn't have been looked at by any distributors may get some attention.

    Take Bradford for instance, I saw a film called Littlerock there last year in their superb Uncharted States of America strand. Since seeing the film, I contacted the filmmaker and agreed with him the rights to screen it at the film society I run in Bradford and Leeds called Minicine, where it played so well we had to have three screenings. If I could now take this evidence to other film societies or festivals and convince them to play it, and a similar result is found it would really start to build up a case for somebody paying attention to not only the artistic brilliance, but also marketability of the film.

    btw I unfortunately missed your Bradford shinanigans on saturday as I was on a discussion panel at the British Federation of Film Societies' Student film society conference, but I think it was fantastic for the festival and for the city that you played such a large part.

    Thank you for asking this question on here, and this entire comments stream will prove as an invaluable source for my study, especially with respect of how festivals are considered amongst regular - albeit with cinephilic tendencies - folk.

    Mike McKenny - Bradford

  • Comment number 24.

    The London Korean Film Festival is becomming a good one to go too. They have director seminars, live Korean music acts but more importantly they have film screenings throughout the year and other events all Korean.

  • Comment number 25.

    ABSOLUTELY are festivals important. Why else would you get to go to the Shetlands once a year? As a colonial commoner, films often take a long time to reach Australia so being able to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival allows viewing of films, as they're meant to be seen, that would never otherwise be allowed to happen. In addition, the bringing together of film fans is always a great experience.

    On a totally unrelated note, Mark might like to agree with this list of Time Out Australia's Top 10 Horror Films of All Time. Even Roger Corman voted!

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm assuming we are not talking about award shows and more about festivals, in which case...

    Film festivals from specific areas of the country should have at least 40% of the shown films produced in some way from within a 100 mile radius of the festival.

    Otherwise, why call it the Shetland film festival, the Bradford, etc?

  • Comment number 27.

    Cannes/Sundance = Promotion/marketing.
    Bradford/Shetland = Celebration of cinema.

    You never see "Winner of best picture at the Shetland Film Festival" do you? Personally i'd probably put a little more credence in such a win rather than anything from the incestual and selph congratulatory Cannes.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dr. K, Simple answer - They are important. It doesn't matter who goes, dosen't matter if, as some think it's for snobs, film makers or critics. It brings to the fore films that we might never hear of, films without the multi million studio advertising budget. I have never been to one but i know i have seen a more colourful pallet of films thanks to being introduced to them through the 'buzz' that surrounds these festivals.

  • Comment number 29.

    Surely without these festivals we wouldn't get some great films making their way onto DVD and sometimes even a run at the flicks.

    It pays dividends for for savvy film distributers and film makers alike. Distributers get to guage reaction from audiences and film makers make money from selling what might have otherwise been shelved.

    Along the way I'm sure there is fun to be had also for those who go in a non bussiness capacity. Great films, parties and a general atmosphere with a "fizz" in the air, a little excitement if you will.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well there's an obvious divide between types of festivals, the purely industry ones such as Cannes which are as much about distributors shopping for product, the curated festivals for the audience, and the "city" festivals which are a hybrid between the two.

    In 1990 I gatecrashed Cannes for 5 days. (highpoint: blagging a ticket to the press screening of Wild At Heart, possibly the first time it had been screened for an audience). The convention area of the Grand Palais and the foyers of the top hotels were crammed with trade stands that would be interchangeable with that of any other industry, except the product included fringe American indies that you will never hear of, Comic Book Confidential, and Basket Case II, not to mention the latest in cinema seats. Of course a lot of this is piggy backed onto the festival, out of competition or not even in the festival itself, the cinemas and screening rooms of Cannes given over to the hodgepodge of international distributors flogging their wares.

    The London Film Festival gave me the opportunity to see Shallow Grave, Reservoir Dogs, Trainspotting and Grace of My Heart before their release and many with Q&A's with the film makers. Tarentino doing his motormouthed I didn't remember the color names from The Taking of Pelham 123, but apparently virtually everything else, apologia was great.

    I attended and volunteered at the New Forest Film Festival (and hope to again this year). It supported local film makers with short film competitions, and gave local audiences some interesting and unique film events: Project Nim with a Q&A with an expert from a primate rescue centre, a horror film screened in a bus secret forest location, Richard O'Brien introducing the little seen Rocky Horror follow up Shock Treatment, and the bicycle powered silent film/Dodge Bros/Neil Brand event mentioned in the vblog. I hope that future programmes will include films with elements or themes with local relevance to the New Forest, but I don't think it's worth getting pedantic about this, or insisting as another comment above suggests on enforced levels of localism. I'm really happy to have any really enjoyable film event on my doorstep.

    I really care about film festivals when they give the audience chances to see films they might not otherwise see, or give them opportunities to see them in unique ways. I recently joined the ranks of mobile cinema projectionists, showing films in village halls and community centres; it's really great to show films to people who know each other and haven't had to brave throngs of multiplex teens. The sense of community of these audiences can also be found in local film festivals, and that alone can be worth the price of admission.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think film festivals are essential for budding screenwriters and film makers. For example, I attended Keswick this year and had the opportunity to chat to Tony Brittan and John Hurt, both of whom gave me invaluable advice. What's more, I gained an understanding that films do not need a big Hollywood budget or a national release to be appreciated. This makes the ultimate goal of getting my script produced seem much more accessible.
    This weekend I will be at Bradford Filmmakers Weekend, which gives me a unique chance to see the other side of the industry and learn what they want from me as a writer.
    So yes, for many of the gliterati, film festivals are just a season of hob knobbing and mutual back slapping, but for those trying to break into the industry, they represent our only chance to meet with these people to become back slappers ourselves.

  • Comment number 32.

    The best festival ever was the Filmstock Film Festival which was based in Luton, which ran from 2000 to 2009. It was a film festival that was for film makers (directors / writers) And those in love with film. It ranged from over 200 shorts from budgeted films to no budgets, and Independent films and Studio Financed films, again budget to no budget. Guest iincluded were Jason Reitman, Nicolas Roeg , Ray Harryhausen and Mike Hodges. It was the perfect festival.

  • Comment number 33.

    Film Festival season is the highlight of my year. I live in Edinburgh and although I don't get to see everything I would like, I still see enough and am surprised enough every year to make it a valuable experience.

  • Comment number 34.

    I went to the screening of Shock Treatment at the New Forest Film Festival last year; where, for those who don't know, you hosted the awards for the Short and Micro film competition, the introduction to Shock Treatment and the Q&A with Richard O'Brien (who, incidentally, is a wonderfully entertaining and fascinating character).

    The entire evening was very enjoyable and well worth the ticket price. However, this is very much a festival put on by cinema fans for cinema fans; which in my view is what they should be all about.

    The problem with the big international festivals, i.e. Cannes & Sundance, in that they seem to be put on to congratulate colleagues and, overall, give the impression of being there for the rich and famous to "get seen".

  • Comment number 35.

    Of course they are important. Many festivals exist in order to promote cinema that is otherwise rarely seen or hard to publicize. Just last week I finished my run in the BAFICI, caught 22 feature films and four shorts in it but that's not important. The BAFICI's main competing category, however, is dedicated exclusively to filmmakers who are on their first or second feature, thus trying to generate attention to newcomers in the medium. All screens I was in, even those of experimental filmmakers like Nathaniel Dorsky, Betzy Bromberg and Bill Morrison, were packed, for me quite clearly showing the widespread interest in the festival too.

    Other than that, big film festivals like Cannes and Venice also exist as film markets - it allows for many filmmakers to pitch their projects, to exhibit them and find people willing to distribute them, etc. Look at Timo Vuorensola's interviews in this site. The awards ceremony, while important in its own right, is just the face.

  • Comment number 36.

    Currently I am doing the rounds at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. It is great fun. I have seen a BUNCH of films that I would have not have otherwise given a second glance at.

    In general the festival has a balance of mainstream fare (primarily at the open and close) while also having several films that may not see the light of a US cinema in terms of wide (or even limited) release.

    I look forward to attending and covering some more (smaller) fests in my area.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Gothenburg International Film Festival is fantastic, I've been going almost every year since 1992. Film-lovers trudging along from cinema to cinema in the miserable winter cold - how I love it!

    Seriously though you should come next year Mark, you'll love Gothenburg

  • Comment number 38.

    I have to admit never having been to a film festival because, frankly, they don't interest me. I would rather have a great local cinema that "curates" for 12 months of the year showing old fims, new films, seasons of this director or that performer, English language films, subtitled films, films no-one else is showing, etc. I live a long way from there now but when I lived in Edinburgh I could be found at the great Filmhouse several days a week.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the EIFF is one of the few major film festivals that has remained down to earth, accessible and resolutely about the films. Incidentally, the Filmhouse has just been showing a cracking selection of Sci-Fi during the Science Festival.

  • Comment number 40.

    Yes, festivals are important to those of us who like/love films too, not just those in the industry. I've attended Frightfest in London for the previous seven years and couldn't bear to miss it. 20+ movies plus Q&As, quizzes and documentaries, all cloaked with an fantastic atmosphere generated by hundreds of horror film fans eager to share their opinions. The best holiday I can think of - I can forget work and simply spend five days watching movies and the most stressful aspect of the weekend is finding the time to eat between screenings - bliss!

  • Comment number 41.

    I once went to the Deauville festival, felt that I had to watch as many films as I could and ended up watching complete rubbish... and generally felt a bit uncomfortable, but maybe it was just the utter poshness of that particular city.

    On the other hand, I did go with much pleasure to a film festical closer to home for several years until it was shut down recently. It specialised in Scandinavian cinema and showed many films I'd simply have had no way to watch otherwise (if only because of matters of translation - though I must say that a Swedish film with English subtitles AND French subtitles under the screen isn't the exactly easy to understand). Not all were great, but many stuck in my mind.

  • Comment number 42.

    I just learned of this sadly relevant to this thread news:
    Amos Vogel, Founder of the New York Film Festival and Cinema 16, Dies at 91

    I was a student of his at Annenberg, and he was always approachable despite being deeply intellectual and having a brain the size of Noam Chomsky. The selection of films shown in his courses and detailed in his book Film as a Subversive Art are a great backbone to understanding the great promise that film holds. I'm really sorry I never had a chance to go to the NY Film Fest when he was curating.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think film festivals are key to the survival of indipendant, small production films. They provide inspiration and well deserved recognition for the most talented and hard working filmmakers. I think it's great to collect artists and critics together in one place because the film industry is tough, and any achievements are certainly worth celebrating. We need to keep the industry alive in the face of blockbuster bile and digital takeovers, and the big awards ceremonies just aren't in the right spirit for that. Festivals provide exposure for small productions that just wouldn't be provided otherwise in such a monopolised distribution market. Even for some of the most enthusiastic cineasts, small or breakthrough films are likely to slip off the radar unless they get even small mention from festivals such as Cannes or Sundance. Smaller festivals are most importanly a place for local people to have a viewing experience that they just can't find in the multiplexes.
    I have to say though, as a film student on a tight budget, I find festivals such as Sundance or Cannes to be largely innaccesable because of cost. I must admit, due to the high calibre of other guests I sometime assume the experience will be too expensive, but it's mainly the travel and accomodation that gets me.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think it is more a matter of how the festival is organized.

    Yes - the opportunity to watch wonderful films which will never reach your local multiplex and (sadly) are only likely to be screened at 23:00, on a Wednesday on Film4, is great.
    Yes - retrospectives of the great and the good of today's cinema is great.
    Yes - on stage interviews with the great and the good of today's cinema, is also great.
    But as someone not working within the industry, attending the LFF is nothing more than a night out. With none of the excitement or sense of involvement, I think a festival should deliver.


    The Karlovy Vary IFF, Czech Republic, is another matter.
    I have attended this festival 4 or 5 times now, yes it delivers all the 'events' the LFF does BUT with added festival. The greatest feature being that members of the public cannot buy tickets for screenings more than 24hrs in advance. No planning your might out 4 or 6 weeks in advance, you have to be there, standing in the que the day before. With the local football stadium turning into a tent city and people gorilla camping on the public lawns and sunken gardens which abound in this Bohemian spa town. KVIFF is very much the 'Glastonbury' of film festivals. This year will be the 47th KVIFF and to be frank, probably one of the best kept secrets when it comes to film festivals - I have not been for a couple of years now but I will be attending again, sometime soon.

  • Comment number 45.

    I regularly look forward to and attend Cinecity - the Brighton Film Festival held every year and it has a very good variety of indies and world cinema screenings, along with work by local filmmakers and shorts/documentaries. I think local film festivals will always have more interest for regular folk like us , although I do take a keen interest as to who wins the different prizes at Cannes. I'd rather pay attention to Cannes than the Oscars!

  • Comment number 46.

    I don't go to festivals. The idea of watching films back-to-back seems fatiguing; entropy sets in taking the joy/entertainment away with successively watched film. The benefit of festivals is to gain popular and critical traction on film gems (Iron Sky comment above) and avoidance of turkeys. Those little palm de whatevers logos (festival awards) do help one choose DVDs from the library years later...

  • Comment number 47.

    Mark, I simply had to comment on one aspect of this, and I'll try to be as brief as possible, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while. As I listen to you on the podcast, I often hear you relate stories about the first time you saw a film at the cinema or the reactions of the patrons. Coming from the generation of DVD and streaming, I feel we've lost the communal aspect of cinema-going. I can relate a few stories from the VHS years, like finding a mom and pop store that had a copy of The Evil Dead and watching it in the basement when my parent were out of town, but on the whole, there's little mystique to movie-going to me anymore. Putting aside how much so many films lose on the small screen, there's usually no one with whom I can discuss the films after I've seen them, and there's rarely a chance to see anything more than a year old on the big screen. A retrospective sounds like tons of fun to me in that regard! As you talk about sitting in a cinema watching The Crazies and knowing that other horror fans were sharing in the experience, I know that I've missed out on all of that. Not that it diminished the movie when I watch it at home, but when I can pause it, just doesn't have the same impact as sitting in a darkened theater with the projector flickering. I've been thinking about this for a while, so my thoughts are sort of scrambled, but I just thought I'd throw that out there. As they say on your side of the pond, "Cheers!"

  • Comment number 48.

    who goes to festivals? anyone who lives particularly close, or anyone who gets their costs covered by someone else, or someone who wishes that someone else would cover their expenses. for me, they're usually not financially viable, and, as a result of not gathering my knowledge or interest in film via them, i'd say i don't really want to see films as frequently as festivals need to show films in order for them to fit everything into a working format. there may be films within festivals that i'd go see, but then the situation becomes an inconvenience in time / money (usually both) that makes it not worth it in comparison to catching the film (hopefully) on a less-suitable dvd viewing.

  • Comment number 49.

    I do pay attention to the general buzz of festivals like Sundance, Cannes and Frightfest to learn which films are getting the most attention. Whether that's a good thing or not I don't know but it has made me look forward to films like Kill List, Black Swan and Tucker & Dale vs Evil far earlier than I would have known about them otherwise. On the fiipside of that, I've learned to take the general buzz with a pinch of salt after The Woman and Cabin in the Woods completely underwhelmed me. Having said that, I hope to go to Frightfest this year to make my own mind up about the 'next big things'.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mark, you are overcomplicating this. From a punter's point of view, festivals are just a way of seeing lots of films that we wouldn't normally get to see with a group of like-minded enthusiasts. The Sydney Film Festival has become an essential annual event for me and my cineaste friends.

    Incidentally, probably my favourite SFF screening was Senna a couple of years ago. The beautiful State Theatre was picked with a mixture of the usual chinstroking crowd (including myself) and a substantial component of Formula 1 fans, many of whom wouldn't have been to a film festival before. The energy in the room created by the mixture of fantastic movie, evocative location and audience dynamic made it an unforgettable experience only made possible by the festival environment.

  • Comment number 51.

    I would love to go to the London Film Festival and the Edinburgh Film Festival, but teh cost unfortunately always stumps me. Definately want to submit my films to smaller film fests and I think they are the festivals I would rather attend and support.

  • Comment number 52.

    I love film festivals and since I live in Edinburgh, when I'm not at Uni in Aberdeen, I am so spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing so many new and interesting films.

    I remember seeing Black Dynamight about a year before anyone else could see it in the UK, seeing Monica Vulure and the star Kim Catrall surprised everyone by having a Q&A afterwards, I saw Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend and afterward the filmakers including Esther Anderson and Gian Gody had a drink with the audiance and spoke about the film and how and why the made it. But it isn't just things like that that were amasing but seeing films that otherwise you can't and won't see in Scotland.

    I know EIFF has had a bad rap in resent years but by showing films that often don't even get a DVD release over here they arn't just helping new filmmakers with there careers but giving there audience special experiences. I know I would have never even known about 'Northen Soul' if it wasn't for there showing of Soul Boy.

    But it is just as important for small films to be shown outside of film festivals and sometimes having festivals about seems to mean that art house cinemas don't dig out old gems or show new but small releases as much. The closest I've gotten to an interesting screen in outside of a festival was when once for University get to see a rehursal of Graeme Stephen Quintet doing there orginal score for Sunrise: A Story of Two Humans and it thurley ruined the film for me because I now can't watch that film without wanting their amazing score to be there in place of the filmtone one.

  • Comment number 53.

    I want you to speed it up and stop chattering, cabbie. I've got to get to my wife's apartment.

  • Comment number 54.

    I personally love the !Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at Cornerhouse in Manchester. They always have a cracking selection of films I've never seen nor even heard of and they couple this with lectures and debates so that you can gain a greater understanding of the films and the contexts of their stories. And all this at a nice price! That's what I want in a film festival - good films I wouldn't have otherwise seen coupled with no pretension.

  • Comment number 55.


    instead of going to film festivals, this year I manages to co curate one with a large group of people. It was this year's Glasgow Youth Film Festival which was apart of the Glasgow Film Festival this year. It was my first time and as well as just screening films, we also organised workshops and special events to appeal to a young audience of film goers. This included turning a local cafe in Glasgow into a french early 20th century cafe and screened the film The Triplets Of Belleville. Each member of the group each introduced certain films. My one was a small well known film called Simple Simon (2010) A Swedish film about a teenager with aspergers syndrome and it was a film very close to me as I also suffer from the syndrome. Our opening & closing galas were The Muppets & Being Elmo, which were both fantastic films and the atmosphere at the festival was wonderful.

    I will be doing it all again next year and I applaud the Glasgow Film Theatre for attempting and succeeding what so few festivals do these days, which is appeal to all possible audiences with well known but terrific films to show.

  • Comment number 56.

    I care and follow Film Festivals progress,specially the main ones.i just think tickets are too hard to get hold of and maybe they need to reach more Rural places

  • Comment number 57.

    For me, one of the best things about festivals is that you get to see more niche films in front of bigger audiences than you'd sometimes get in a art-house cinema. I saw Dogtooth in one of the biggest screens in Dublin which was almost full. The shock and bemusement of such a large audience at the end of the film and as people filtered out, trying to digest what they'd just seen, was pretty unique and hard to replicate outside a festival.

    I wouldn't take much notice of the awards and hobnobbing at the dublin film festival but it is a great chance for me to see things I wouldn't see otherwise.

  • Comment number 58.

    I enjoy movies. I go to see them regularly at the cinema, I also watch plenty on TV or DVD. I probably see far more than the average man or woman, albeit probably fewer than the average poster on this blog.

    I have never been to a movie festival, however. I imagine that the vast majority of people who really enjoy movies haven't either. The fact is that I'm not so film obsessed that I generally want to go to one to see films I know nothing about. I go to other festivals and might be tempted to catch a movie whilst I'm there but my experience is that the music at a summer festival or live plays at Edinburgh at more of a draw - they offer experiences that are not capable of being replicated again (whereas a movie can always be watched at a later date). For that reason I'm not sure what the draw is for those outside the world of the film industry.

    Events such as the live accompaniment to a silent film that you did recently are the only sort of thing that might draw me to a film festival. That is a chance to see something unrepeatable - film and accompaniment and audience - with a chance for some interaction, more like the dynamic between actors on a stage or a band and their audience.

  • Comment number 59.

    I've never been to a film festival (although I certainly would like to at some point), but I do feel that they have a place in raising awareness of smaller, independent films that would not receive as much attention were it not for the interest generated by festivals.

    For me the prize winners at film festivals are usually a better indication of quality that the Oscars too.

  • Comment number 60.

    I've not been to any of the big festivals but there is a need for them as they are a good way for films to be sold to distributors and industry people to see them. Would Iron Sky have been made without festivals, probably. Would it be getting so much publicity without festivals, doubtful.

    For your average fan of cinema I'm a huge supporter of local film festivals that are easily accessible to the wider public and are often run purely for the interest of cinema patrons. In fact I actually helped to start up a Horror Film Festival at my local independent cinema in Dundee.

  • Comment number 61.

    There's various different ways that a festival can be run and each have their merits. I've read about lots of festivals but the only one I've actually been to is my local one in Glasgow. The approach they seem to have is just to show two screenings each of a selection of the best films chosen by the organisers that have been sent in to them over the last few months - there does not appear to be any particular emphasis on premiers or brand new films, just a sort of world cinema select divided into a few different themes like youth, horror, music, obscure, asian, documentary, local and then they focus on a particular country each year like Germany. It's generally pretty well run, the film guide booklets they produce are brilliant and rather than being 'snobby' or overly commercial, it seems to be mainly appreciated by ordinary punters like myself and big crowds come to many of the main screenings. In fact I can remember hearing Armando Ianucci saying it was his favourite festival because he could get a genuine audience reaction to an early screening of his film that would be a good, broad representation of the audience reaction that would come from the general public. There are also so many festivals now that it is becoming like an alternative distribution network for films that will not be otherwise shown widely, even in art-cinemas e.g. I saw a brilliant quebecian native american interpretation of Hamlet, called 'Mesnak' and have not seen it appearing much elsewhere online, other that a small number of european festivals. It does not appear to be on DVD yet, so this may not be a 'repeatable' experience as someone above claimed - and in the case of the Glasgow festival it's actually far cheaper (not to mention a better experience) to watch it in the cinema - I bought a block of 8 tickets online and paid 4 or 5 pounds for each. Many of the less well known films were also free. I went to see about 14 films and only two of them were bad, 6 of them have become some my favourite films.


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