It’s no secret that the film industry is going through a hard time. Ticket sales have plummeted. Original content is scarce (in the mainstream), and in our technology-driven society, film is losing out to original content on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and to other platforms such as Youtube. In the past couple of years, movie attendance has been the lowest it’s ever been in almost 20 years. Perhaps it has to do with rising ticket prices, a surplus of unwanted remakes and a constant barrage of tentpole films, and the lack of etiquette in the theater space. In the technology-driven age, the traditional film-going experience is no longer what it once was.
Film festivals are an oasis in an otherwise dry spell in cinema. More than ever, we need them to remind us of how amazing cinema is. All the time, audiences complain about the lack of unique stories portrayed on screen, and the lack of diversity. Film festivals are where you will find something fresh. At larger festivals, hundreds of films are displayed, with many options to chose from from, many films of which you wouldn’t get the chance to see otherwise. And don’t forget there are niche festivals too- depending on your interests. There are film festivals centered around heritage, film genres, lifestyles, and so much more. Every month of every year, there are a number of film festivals that are held in order to showcase the best in cinematic storytelling. Some notable festivals you may have heard of are Cannes (France), Sundance (Park City, Utah), Tribeca (New York City), Venice (Italy), and Toronto (Canada). These places serve as meccas for cinephiles to congregate. At at these meccas, you can find genuine enthusiasm for film- where people know so much and want to learn more. Great discussions and connections can be stemmed from “What did you see?” or “What was your favorite movie?”
At festivals, you get to learn about the art of filmmaking. The hard work and dedication that goes into creating a piece of art. Unlike a regular theater, where you go to the movies, the movies come to you. You can find yourself mingling with the filmmakers, actors, and (at bigger festivals) deal makers- and you can often hear from them about the filmmaking process. Especially with young filmmakers, this is an amazing opportunity to share their work and gain recognition. I believe festivals are as much educational experiences as they are viewing experiences. They serve as a way to validate current filmmakers and inspire the next generation of filmmakers. In a rare instance, we don’t go to the movies, the movies come to us. All of a sudden “Hollywood” (the concept more so than the place) is not so distant. Festivals also serve as places to educate about our society as a whole. There can be panels about diversity, environment consciousness, and technological trends.
Many, many festivals are made possible by the support of passionate movie-lovers: patrons and volunteers who support the power of cinematic storytelling. Without festivals, and their respective foundations, many filmmakers would never have a chance to let their voice be heard. Without these organizations, we would only see big budget studio films every year, and you know how that trend is going right now.
ADRIANA THE CINEMA SOLOIST