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Film festivals: too many of them?

Filmfestivals, too many of them ?
We, at filmfestivals keep a close watch on festival trends, run the most exhaustive database worldwide, have about 4000 affiliated festivals.Many media, mostly from the States, ask us and our experts and staff why the figure for festivals has grown so big in the recent years, and whether there are too many of them.

Long story: long answer.
Yes the number has grown big.In the US alone we counted some 650 of them as of to date.Less than 10 years ago there were only 450.
The difference is mostly accounted by garage festivals, exploitation festivals and students festivals. Large, important do not die (rarely) young news ones appear every other week. But it is so tough for the new comers to this circuit.Building a new festival is a tough enterprise; 9/11 has turned off a few of the potential sponsors that fund these ventures.
We have recognised this by offering theses "entrepreneurs of art" a significant discount for our services (awareness builder, film entry booster and media circulation).
A few of these new festival founders are quoted here
We've decided to put this festival right in the heart of the U.S. to give East Coast and West Coast filmmakers a central meeting location in the crossroads of America," says John Brandon, Executive Director for the newly created Branson Film Festival. "We know people from the Branson area have been spoiled living in the live entertainment capital of mid-America and we believe their expectations and honesty will help translate into accurate judging of our film entries.Being an aspiring screenwriter and director I know how critical it is for that one golden opportunity for a rising filmmaker to be at the right place at the right time for true recognition and success.This is our first year but it's something we've been planning for a while," he adds.
Diaky Diaz founder of the Artivist Film Festival describes her festival as " the first festival dedicated to addressing social, global, political, animal rights and environmental issues through Visual Arts & Music. Our mission is to strengthen the voice of international activist Filmmakers & Artists - Artivists - while raising public awareness and funds for global social causes. Art can be a powerful medium for social change by bringing people together, raising awareness, instilling hope, and inspiring action. We seek to unite the entertainment industry, the corporate world and non-profit organizations towards a common goal of giving exposure and support to socially aware Artivists. The time has come to direct the power of art, media and entertainment"
"The annual Action/Cut Short Film Competition states Guy Magar, its founder, provides indie filmmakers worldwide the opportunity to show their work at this uniquely industry-driven contest designed to recognize the most talented with multiple awards and career access services, and bring them to the attention of the Hollywood Film Industry. The toughest part is always the first year when you need to do a lot of advertising so filmmakers know about your fest or competition so they can send their entries."
"Festivals are about bringing people together from all over the world to exchange ideas, inspire creativity and see each other's work. Seeing how someone else sees things. So as long as there are filmmakers, there will be film festivals. Having a film festival in the grand old city of Dubrovnik, you could not ask for a better location. Because it's all about location, easy access to theatres and something else to do between films. The main outdoor theater is spectacular - it overlooks the Adriatic Sea and provides the perfect setting to have a drink at sunset and then screen a film. Bringing a film festival to Dubrovnik, completes the circle from the old world to the new and back again. Having recovered from the Serb Army shelling in the 90's, Dubrovnik is blossoming into a rising european hot-spot for A-list celebrities and jet-setters." says Ziggy Mrkich who runs the Dubrovnik Festival (an after for Cannes?)
Tough job, as tough a job as filmmaking? Perhaps.

But why so many festivals?
A few random elements for an articulate answer.
The theatres are available for a solid turn out, large houses, multiple screens that allow to allocate a few of them to festival films, while running the other programs. Strong efforts were made by exhibitors to renovate and improve theatre quality, building state of the art multiplexes. They make the festival experience a memorable one, a moment of exception. The Larger festivals gather some 350 000 spectators, medium range in the 30/50,000.
The films are available too. - So many films experience difficulties in finding a rep, a distributor and meeting their final target: the viewers.
The festival route has become an increasingly good way of getting exposure, awareness, industry visibility..
- The distributors have gathered experience in recognising the festival values in the proper timing of a promotion campaign with a festival peak, in the targeting of the right festival for the film, in the creation of the right viewing experience suitable for the film.
- The world of mouth can become an ingredient in the pr campaign, built-in with festival viewing with the right balance of real core fans, snobs, critics, celebrities…
- Sales companies have created a model of films (docus) getting an important source of theatrical revenue before their DVD, video window. (will S21 ever get released in theatres?)
The sponsors have a better experience of the return that can be derived from them. Some companies have established a long term relationship with the world of festivals,cars (Renault, Mercedes), alcohol brands(champagne and Vodka became absolute must), airlines(become tough cookies to handle and trade since 9/11)…
L'Oréal is a proud sponsor of Cannes Berlin Venice and San Sebastian to name a few.
Which ingredients for a good festival?
Your views are needed here and we will publish some of your contributions.
A "nice" destination, a place that you can sell to journalists as a film vacation, a place you can sell as a holiday, rest destination to busy filmmakers (busy promoting worldwide),
a place that is easily accessible by airplane, with enough accommodation facilities both 5 stars to affordable places for film buffs, an event that can draw some "real people" to fill the rooms with true film lovers.
A city that means something for potential sponsors the marketing positioning of the event, and marketing adequation to the sponsors.
A good programming skill presenting film capable of creating want to see, with a mix of premieres and retrospective
A smart programming bringing talent that will attract attention from the media. Some festivals' like Cannes, have developped a loyaulty to some filmmakers (Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee, Wim Wenders...)
Personal PR Excellency for the executive teams that will smooth egos and
cope with organizational nightmares.
Good quality houses with state of the art projection facilities, a large one over 500 and many smaller ones, locations suitable for the after film events.

Bruno Chatelin

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