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State Of The Festival

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by

The Festival and Stagnation

The film festival has become something of a homunculous in that the shapes, sizes and breadth of them never settle into one constant state. This brings into question the discussion of whether or not the industry can find a place for new festivals which desire elite festival status, and/or whether the world as it is now can financially produce any new festivals that are both substantial in size and success.

Film festivals like Sundance have stood atop the live wire of the festival circuit for years, raising the question of the ability for the film industry to become stagnant though the medium of film inherently promotes change and progress.

This isn’t to last though, with industry leaders finding this year that there may be new and upcoming (or old and sustained) festivals that could give Sundance a partner in crime. Namely the Whistler Film Festival, which is receiving increased exposure through industry heavyweight Variety Magazine, has been for years balancing lists of great American films as well as Canadian.

The Whistler Film Festival benefits from the exposure by drawing bigger names that may not have attended a festival like it given the inability to attract publicity during the award season (another factor which gives the festival decent footing in moving up to Sundance status). There have been several organizations that have begun examining the similarities in location and timing between Sundance and Whistler, which is a sign that the true nature of film remains healthy on the industry end of the spectrum.

The Festival and The Economy

If there is a soul out there that believes this economy isn’t so, that starting a new festival is a dangerous endeavour I welcome them to show me their world. In reality, the effort put forth by Marc and Brenda Lhormer in launching the Napa Valley Film Festival this year was nothing less than spectacular and I commend them for giving us hope both for independent film and more new festivals in this economic climate.

This isn’t to say that the idea of their festival wasn’t in the making long before our economy took its epic nosedive, but to follow through with their venture shows just how strongly the pair believes in independent film. Reading through their mission statement, we see the philanthropic and communal ties to the Napa Valley community and communities around the world that elevates the Napa Valley Film Festival’s image even further.

The festival took many innovative approaches to match the failing qualities of the economy (like packaging GREAT deals with their fest passes) and showed the resiliency of film festivals which is becoming and more and more necessary trait these days. Film festivals do not come cheap and as we’eve seen over the years, many festivals just don’t last without the bravado to do so.

Napa Valley ran from November 9, 2011 – November 13, 2011 with great success, and gave a grounded view of what the state of new and upcoming film festivals is and will be moving forward.

The film festival will continue its shape-shifting ways (as to be expected) given the products that keep it relevant: great films. It would be a shame to see the industry settle too comfortably into a routine, wherein the films would eventually be affected by the need to reach the festival mark: ultimately, if festivals stop changing then films will stop changing. All in all, Whistler, Napa Valley and the festivals to come are doing great things by believing in themselves and their missions and we are better for supporting them as patrons.

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