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Session 6: Reflections: The Role of Film Festivals in NCH

Withdrawn: Paper 1 - Kaifan Wang, New York University, Capturing the Moment: Festival Brochures from the Origin of Asian American International Film Festival, 1978-1987.

Printed materials generated by film festivals have been taken notice by the field since early 2000s. Yet leafing through a pamphlet, scholars tend to pour over writings such as curatorial statements, program information, and extensive reportage whereas peripheral contents like advertisements and congratulation notes are oft-overlooked. This research thus aims to draw attention to these rarely discussed texts and evaluate their value for film festival studies and cinema historiography through an empirical archival research of the Asian American International Film Festival’s brochures produced during the first ten years of its running.  

Since 1978, AAIFF has been showcasing independent Asian and Asian American cinema to audiences in New York and beyond. Born of the cultural awareness of Asian American experiences and a collective identity in its formation, AAIFF played a pivotal role in facilitating grassroots media practices and mobilizing social activism among the Asian American communities. On the one hand, the triple-facing nature of a film festival is very much in evidence from advertisements and congratulation notes for they reflect the festival’s attempts to account for its changing funding bodies and structures, address a socially specific yet growing audience, and at the same time, maintain its connections to multiple social movements. On the other hand, these texts suggest the involvement and evolvement of the interconnected networks of individuals, collectives, and commercial entities which epitomize the socio-economic realities of the Asian American communities, capturing a larger political picture that informs and influences the conceptualization and organization of the festival. Therefore, I propose that such peripheral contents can be wielded as both a discursive and a historiographic tool that expands on the understanding of the social-geography of particular film festival culture beyond the confinement of theaters and models of production, curation, and reception.

Chin, D. (1991) “Moving the Image, Removing the Artist, Killing the Messenger,” in R. Leong (ed.) Moving the image: independent Asian Pacific American media arts, Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Visual Communications, pp. 219–226.

Kwong, P. (1998) The New Chinatown. New York: Hill and Wang.

Lee, Toby. (2017) “Being there, taking place: Ethnography at the film festival,” in A. Vallejo and M. P. Peirano (eds.) Film festivals and anthropology, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 122-137.

Okada, J. (2015) Making Asian American Film and Video: Histories, Institutions, Movements. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Kaifan Wang is a PhD candidate of Cinema Studies at New York University. She holds an MSc in Film, Exhibition and Curation from the University of Edinburgh and a BA from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Her research interests include anthropology of cultural institutions, film festival studies, and transnational cinema cultures.

Paper 2 - Katherine Van de Ven, York University, Film Festival Ephemera: Junk, Souvenirs and the Affect of “Event”.

Film Festival Ephemera: Junk, Souvenirs and the Affect of “Event”. Writing about Sundance 1997 in his seminal piece of film festival scholarship, anthropologist Daniel Dayan expressed surprise at encountering a “Niagara of printed paper… spelling out meanings… retelling daily events until they reached a stable, paradigmatic form…” (Dayan 2000). He argued for looking beyond the films themselves to explore the material and discursive worlds at film festivals. His work hinted intuitively at both the onslaught of text and goods that came to characterize festival ephemera ever since and the expansive interdisciplinary framework New Cinema History has brought to studying the cultural contexts and industrial realities within which films are exhibited.

My proposed paper surveys the universe of THINGS that emerge from film festival EXPERIENCES; using case studies drawn from the Toronto International Film Festival, it will explore ephemera (ex. paper materials, promotional items and souvenirs) – to consider their affective and industrial values. A pair of bright orange sunglasses represents “cool” marketing in 2012 and serves a study of media convergence in the early 2010s. A translucent tote full of cannabis paraphernalia gifted in the festival’s lounge in 2018 indicates how TIFF’s artistic and cultural “legitimacy” was appropriated by an array of companies that year to attempt to burnish their images ahead of the legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada a month later. And a small paper flyer on harassment included in delegate bags since 2018 will reflect the festival’s attempt to navigate the Time’s Up and #metoo era.

Drawing on frameworks including paratextual analysis, the cultural public sphere, the “event” nature of festivals and questions of corporate branding of cultural organizations, this paper will ask what film festival ephemera signify in the view of their producers, as well as the affective values they represent when retained by attendees after the fact, if they are retained at all.

Dayan, Daniel (2000). “Looking for Sundance: The Social Construction of a Film Festival.” In Moving Images, Culture and the Mind, ed. I. Bondebjerg. Luton: University of Luton Press, 2000: 43-52.

Harbord, Janet (2016). “Contingency, Time and Event: An Archaeological Approach to the Film Festival.” In Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, eds. Marijke de Valck, Brendan Kredell, Skadi Loist. New York: Routledge, 2016: 69-82.

McGuigan, Jim (2009). Cool Capitalism. London: Pluto Press, 2009. Wickham, Phil. “Scrapbooks, Soap Dishes and Screen Dreams: Ephemera, Everyday Life and Cinema History.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 8.3 (2010): 315-330.

Kate Van de Ven is a doctoral candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at York University. Her research explores Toronto’s many film festivals, their relationship to their urban communities and how different kinds of festival space impact understandings of Toronto as a particular kind of place: a festival city.

Paper 3 - Hadija Chalupe da Silva, UFF / ESPM Rio, International co-production as a broadening of horizons for contemporary Brazilian cinematography – The importance of film festivals.

Audiovisual production in Brazil has been historically recognized for its inevitable dependence (even if indirectly) on the State’s intermediation, through public policies that organize the regulations in their different spheres. These actions have different facets such as screen quotas, sponsorship edicts, laws to encourage fundraising, and agreements with authorities in other countries.

Opportunities provided by digital technologies and the increasing flow and deterritorialization of capital have boosted the expansion of national audiovisual spaces, resulting in the unavoidability that they touch, integrate, hybridize and shape films that combine different nations and imaginaries. International co-production has been one of the alternatives found by independent Brazilian producers to bypass this scenario marked by the difficulty of access to movie theatres. Therefore, the companies have the possibility to start increasing the number of screens and spectators, and the possibilities to recover the amount invested.

Most of these productions will start this process of commercial insertion in events organized by Exhibitions and Festivals. Throughout time, these spaces have become the main intersecting environment for new filmmakers and productions, because of their immanent power to bring together different directors and cinematographers. Such events have established as the main circulation and promotion area for consecrated directors and newcomers, becoming fundamental environments for the constant renewal of the audiovisual space. The purpose of this research is to investigate the role of the International Film Festivals as an important channel to encourage Brazilian independent filmmaking and co-production.

Lipovetsky, Gilles; Serroy, Jean (2009). A tela global – Mídias Culturais e Cinema na era Hipermoderna. Porto Alegre: Sulina. MISKELL, Peter International Films and International Markets: the Globalisation of Hollywood Entertainment, C.1921–1951, Media History, 2016.

STAFFORD, Roy. The global film book. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

WONG, Cindy Hing-Yuk. Film Festivals: Culture, People and Power on the Global Screen. Rutgers University Press, 2011.

PhD from the Post-Graduation Program in Communication (UFF), she is a Brazilian lecturer of film production and distribution at UFF and at ESPM-RJ. Her main research themes are audiovisual production, feature films diffusion and international co-production. She was based in Oxford Brookes University between 2018-2019 as a visitor researcher developing the research “Mapping out contemporary Brazilian films in UK”.