Film Festivals

Organization of Film Festivals

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Film Festivals Worldwide

Since the advent of the cinema, the quality of films and the work of individual members of the crew were evaluated. One of the objective indicators of the success of the film is box office ticket sales revenues. Viewers give an unconditional evaluation of the quality of the film by buying tickets. However, this figure cannot be considered the only criteria. After all, movies are created in different environments. In fact, some of them are widely publicized and announced, others do not even possess quality posters; some succeed due to the well-known names of movie stars on posters, meanwhile, others cannot afford to feature a star and, thus, hire unknown actors.

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Moreover, a number of psychological factors affect the financial performance of the film. Furthermore, in all countries the conditions are different; therefore, it can be difficult to compare the box office results from different countries. It is obvious that national and cultural characteristics may affect the popularity of the movie. Above all, the box office can only assess the success of the film in general, but not the contribution of individual members of the crew. To solve these problems, numerous film festivals are held regularly around the world. Film festivals are intended to demonstrate the modern trends in filmmaking, to select the best films of the year, and to evaluate the work of the members of film crews. There are many festivals, and each one of them eventually develops its own reputation. This paper analyzes the process of film festival organization and the difficulties, which can arise, and issues related to the event.

Today, the most prestigious film festivals are those that offer a competitive program and are accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, FIAPF. In order to be accredited, a film festival must meet several criteria: it has to be international, to be held annually, to be supported by the local film industry, and it should not include the films that have previously been involved in other festivals. In addition, in one country, it may be only one such festival. Today, FIAPF accreditation features fifteen international competitive film festivals (Eldridge and Voss).

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Academy Award of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (since the 1940s, it is known as Oscar) is an Annual Film Award, traditionally held in Los Angeles. The ceremony is broadcasted live nearly all over the world. Since the first ceremony, the rules and order of nomination and selection of the winner have been modified several times. This award can be considered one of the earliest film awards. Although regulations have repeatedly been criticized and there were several corruption scandals, the Academy Award of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences remains the most desired film award in the world today. Every worker of filmmaking dreams to get an Oscar, as this award acknowledges the highest achievements in the professional field.

International Cannes Film Festival is another large film festival that gathers professionals within the industry from all over the world. It is held in France in late May. The FIAPF association accredited it along with thirteen competing festivals of feature films (so-called festival of A Category). The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most highly regarded events among the filmmaking community. It was established before WWI and held for the first time after the war. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular and colossal festivals around the globe. Louis Lumiere was intended to be the head of the jury, but the war prevented these plans (Wood).

Berlin International Film Festival is also known as Berlinale. This is a German event, which is held every year since 1951. The main award is called Golden Bear Award. Berlinale is also one of the central events in the world of cinema. Unlike others, it is focused primarily on the author and intelligence of the movie. The program of the festival comprises of feature-length and short films shot within a year before the beginning of the festival that has not been broadcasted during other festivals. Premieres are held at the Berlinale Palast. The jury, composed of well-known actors, writers, directors, and artists, is paying particular attention to ensure films from around the world are presented during the event (Wood).

One of the biggest festivals takes place in September in Toronto. The festival emerged as the Festival of Festivals, exhibiting a collection of films from other film screenings. Since 2010, the main program of the festival takes place in an ultra-modern complex TIFF Bell Lightbox in the south of Toronto that has been built specifically for the festival. It is the largest film festival in North America. The participation of a motion picture in the Festival greatly increases its chances of getting into the North American box office. Toronto International Film Festival is often used as a platform for the "publication" of a movie, whose creators hope to receive the Oscar award. Participation in the festival in Toronto essentially defines the destiny of the most progressing art house and independent movies. However, the competition itself is not held in Toronto. The winner is determined by votes from the audience and can be a part of any festival (Wood).

The organizer of the Sundance festival is the independent Sundance Film Institute, founded by Robert Redford. The award also received its name in honor of the character played by Robert in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Festival claims to be the discoverer of new talents. Sundance Institute conducts creative workshops, such as movies, music design, and classes on theatrical productions, as well as provides independent art workers with financial support or scholarships. The Institute maintains an archive of independent films called Sundance Collection, which is located at the University of California in Los Angeles (Wood).

The Procedures for Organizing a Film Festival and the Possible Difficulties in Organizing a Festival

  • Definition of Concept and Aims

The first step in the organization of the festival involves defining readiness for the event. It is necessary to articulate the purpose of the festival and then determine the specific aims and objectives of the event. Next step is to write the concept of the festival and determine the rules of procedure, consider such details as period for application submission, number of steps or stages of the festival (qualifying, final), timetable, as well as indicative list of events that will be held during the festival (Eldridge and Voss).

  • Formation of the Team

In order to succeed, organizations should evaluate their administrative capabilities and assemble a team. This step may face first difficulties since this suggestion involves not only the organizational team that works on the preparation and holding of the festival but also partners and companies that may be interested in participating in this event and who can offer real help and support. The team consists of a huge number of positions. Each of them should be represented by a highly qualified professional, who sometimes is difficult to find and attract.

The team includes Director of the Festival who develops working strategies with the organization and holding of the event, who makes decisions on cooperation with other organizations, whose services are required for the success of the Film Festival. Moreover, the director is in charge of concluding the contract, interacting with the members of the jury as well as other creative artists invited to participate in the Festival, and deciding on the entire festival. An accountant helps calculate all finances, such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. In fact, he/she is in charge of all monetary transactions. The Curator of the festival oversees all the work aimed at the organization of the festival and prepares basic materials and information regarding the Film Festival. Film Festival Curator’s Team is responsible for accepting motion pictures admitted to the festival, replication of movies to members of the Organizing Committee for the further selection process, as well as replication of films selected for broadcasting to the members of the jury. Moreover, they are accountable for coordination of all administrative work, for organizing and conducting the Festival, interaction with all the technical services providers necessary for the success of the festival. The office department is responsible for providing organizational support and timely exchange of documents and materials related to the festival among the members of the Organizing Committee, coordinators and companies involved in the provision of services (translators, designers, printing, mail, etc.). PR department provides general marketing services (attracting media sponsors, production of advertising and other printed materials for the festival, advertising, organization of press conferences with members of the jury). Technical support services ensure the serviceability of technical equipment needed during the preparation process and the event itself. The operator shoots preparation for the film festival and the days of the Film Festival. Similarly, the photographer captures the preparation and the days of the film festival. The site editor provides support and content for the film festival site (Eldridge and Voss).

  • Budget and Fundraising

Before raising finances for the cinema festival, organizers must draw up a detailed cost estimate. However, it might be difficult to conduct market studies in various positions at the same time. Moreover, finding funds for the organization of the festival must begin at a time the idea of holding the festival appears and must continue almost until the moment of the festival. It is necessary to prepare a conceptual framework and make a list of potential sponsors. For a successful search of investors, the festival must be well organized. Thus, the team must have a list of upcoming events properly drawn up, and even better - a concept proposal (Eldridge and Voss). In addition, it is important to start conversing with the authorities.

  • Collection of Films and Invitation of Jury

For the success of the event, the festival should provide viewers with interesting and quality films. Festival Organizing Committee organizes the procedure for selection of the motion pictures for the festival. At this stage, the difficulties of legal nature can arise, such as the authorization for the further non-commercial use of the works. To avoid such issues, the detailed need to conclude the contract with all the participants (Eldridge and Voss).

The judges are an important feature of any competition. The more famous judges are the better. However, every member of the jury should be interested in the program and help organize the event. As for small film festivals, it is difficult enough to attract known, popular people to take the role of the jury. Famous people beware of accepting invitations to participate in something unknown. In addition, they are usually very busy. Thus, organizers must make every possible effort to attract famous people to participate in the event.

  • Press Coverage. Invitation to the Media Sponsors.

The media can help announce the festival. It will talk about the events of the festival and introduce the involved characters (participants, organizers, jury) to the general public. Information support of media can be equated to financial support. Thus, besides finding the right and effective platforms for advertisement, the organizers also need to create a sponsorship package for this purpose.

  • Search the Place for the Festival

The film festival must be traditionally held in the cinema. The main difficulty is to find the place that will meet all the specific requirements of the event for the acceptable price. There must be a place for the food-court (or already running a snack bar, cafe), rooms for workshops and other events organized under the Film Festival. Near the building, there should be parking, which is available at the time of the festival.

  • Opening and Closing Days Scripts. Invitation of the Speakers

The opening and closing of the festival should be a spectacular and memorable part. It is important to invite experienced directors to work out the scenario of these events. In addition, the master of ceremonies should be experienced. Sometimes, it is difficult to involve professionals under the condition of the limited budget, which often happens during small film festivals. Typically, a film festival opens with a welcome speech of the President of the festival jury, director of the Film Festival, as well as representatives from government agencies and festival sponsors.

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After the Festival, it is critically important to compile an information report for the grantor. A detailed concluding document should be prepared for organizers. In fact, all the organizers must participate in making the conclusions. It is essential to answer such questions as to what aims have been achieved; what has to be taken into account the next time; what mistakes should be avoided; what findings have to note; the contacts of everybody who has been engaged in the preparation of film festival.

The Study Relationship between Programmer’s Original Thoughts for the Theme and Viewers’ Interpretations

The impact of cinema on individuals is a common psychological research topic. Films, which are displayed during film festivals, are the final products of cinematic activity. They are a unique systemic phenomenon, which is not limited to the sum of graphic and narrative aspects. Films refer to the ‘hot’ tools of mass media, meaning those that completely grab the spectator's understanding and make him/her identify with the heroes in the movie, and occasionally with the camera. The specificity of film festivals is its impact on the deep layers of consciousness, its ability to break through to the archetypes of the collective unconsciousness (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1221). Gathered together, the audience is immersed in the world of dreams, appealing to a bottomless and ancient historical worldview, and at the same time reflecting the most pressing problems of the time.

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In the field of psychology, film perception by viewers is understood as the understanding of artistic form and its meaning, as well as the living through the aesthetic experience. Obviously, artistic sensibility depends on the specifics of each viewer, such as the age and level of artistic development. The formation of aesthetic perception passes through qualitatively unique stages in the process of life. The formation of the aesthetic needs of people involves the development of a whole range of qualities, including intellectual, cognitive, emotional and volitional characteristics (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1325). It means that if the viewer does not possess adequate cinematic language, the topic expressed by the film festival programmer is not understood when the images are translated into meanings.

In addition, one of the experiences that occur while watching films is the identification of the viewer with the heroes on the screen. By empathizing with the heroes and identifying oneself with them, the viewer relates his/her system of values with the protagonists by either rejecting or accepting it (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1345). In this respect, the film festival acts as a translator of cultural experiences, meanings, values, and ideals. Thus, the psychological effects of the subject are based on the mechanisms of identification with the characters. Due to this, the fact whether the spectator had an experience similar to others depends on his/her understanding of the film and the whole program in general. Viewers, who have not experienced the program topic in real-life, reveal an inadequate understanding of the motives of characters in the films. Those who had similar experiences perceive the intentions of the characters more adequately and openly (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1350). Thus, there are fundamental differences in understanding the programmer’s thoughts by the audience with a different experience. It can be said that effective mechanism for the identification of the audience with the characters of the film, due to, inter alia, gender differences, is the basis for understanding the meaning of individual actions and for the simulation of the internal motivation of the character and his/her personality. For example, women watching the film tend to pay more attention to the love lines, and men usually focus on the moral side of the conflict (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1406).

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The way the audience understands additional thematic lines has shown that the plot-event-canvas structure is adequately understood and interpreted by the audience in the context of moral and psychological problems within the frame of a certain topic. The meaning of the scenes, beyond the direct behavioral line of the main characters of the film that carry rather symbolic importance, remains closed for much of the audience (Peterson, Gillam and Sedgwick 1478). However, a film is a complex, multi-level presentation, which requires an understanding of the viewer in several ways. Such details as the cinematic construction of the frame assembly, tempo, rhythm, and others have to be considered in order to create a full representation of what the programmer wanted the audience to understand.


The film festival is an organized presentation of motion pictures. The festival is usually characterized by a public display of numerous films and the presence of their authors/producers. During most of the festivals, film competition is held. According to the results of the competition, prizes, such as Grand Prix, Audience Award and others, are awarded. The idea of such type of festival is related to a celebration, get-together of many people who are linked by mutual interests, accomplishments, thoughts, and ambitions. Various film festivals have gained a niche in society and become an integral part of modern life. Moreover, the festival is a large-scale event with the participation of a large number of people, attracting media attention. Festivals contribute significantly to the social and economic life of the region, where they are held. Therefore, the local government strongly supports the festival as well as a similar event. As for the participants, the film festival is an opportunity to present their ideas as well as get to know the thoughts of others, and get a professional assessment of the work done. For the viewers, it is a great opportunity to dive into the sense of the celebration, pick up new information, and get acquainted with remarkable people.

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