Friday, 19 November 2010

The rise of the film festival

The Festival circuit has grown incredibly over the last ten years. lists over 250 Festivals in the UK, and the list is probably not up to date. This explosion has a two-fold root cause: cinemas seeking to programme films they can't schedule under a normal commercial programme, and the public funding available for Festivals that has become available.

Festivals, not only in the UK, but across the world, serve as a form of distribution for films that don't have a chance in the brutally competitive commercial marketplace. Some features never make it beyond that circuit, and while some may consider these failures, the growth in festivals means that they can now reach very wide audiences without ever playing in your local multiplex.

The CINECITY Film Festival allows Brightonians to explore cinema otherwise overlooked, and helps distributors promote upcoming films (for example, last night's preview of Momentum's THE KING'S SPEECH). Nicaraguan flick LA YUMA, for example, would be hard pressed to find a screening in Brighton without CINECITY. It also creates a sense of ocassion and excitement about cinema that you can't get in a normal week.

I've been lucky enough in recent years to be able to visit a wide variety of festivals, from Venice to Valdivia, and I have now understood their role and place in the film world. So while some may bemoan the explosion, I welcome this growth as it fulfills what any festival's core mission should be: bringing more films to more audiences.

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