Does the film festival of today support what the film festival philosophy purports– that the power of storytelling and independent film draws the community closer together? Can it demonstrate an ability to grow steadily and become highly desirable for the next generation of filmmakers, solidifying regional film industries thus continuing a positive economic impact? I believe it’s possible.
The past several years has shown a transition, a makeover of what a film festival grows up to be and the film festival experience it offers to filmmakers, film lovers as well as the film festival collective. Embracing new technology, welcoming accomplished film festival organizers and respecting their know-how, brings together an ability for recognizing valuable skills volunteers have to offer and creating a solid foundation for future film festival experiences. Utilizing honed skills in the best possible way ensures that film festivals can evolve into a solid cultural and viable entity contributing to the economic development for its local businesses and arts community.
However, many film festivals started out in the Hollywood celebrity-centered, style with glitz and glamour, red carpet, Gala Opening Night, a weekend of box office-standard films, after-party receptions, awards ceremonies, etc. having the disadvantage of often becoming an insular Garden club variety event or a founding person’s vanity project– a same old, same old, annual weekend that exhausts everyone– the festival organizers, their volunteers, filmmakers, donors/supporters/sponsors, and finally the audience. While I have seen many changes in the higher tier of festivals, the ones remaining entrenched in the old ways, I note, will not last very much longer.
Another seismic shift is on the horizon as the independent film industry readies to completely break from the behemoth Hollywood studio system whose tent pole movies keep the concession stands buzzing on opening weekend soon fading into obscurity. That’s why I live for the film festival experience. It lasts much longer and with greater satisfaction. Stay tuned.