Focus of the proposed research.
Nowadays film festivals have become common in our culture; from the Sundance Film Festival in the middle of January to the Rome Film Festival at the end of October, there is barely a day in the calendar where some Film Festival is not being celebrated in some part of the world.
The most famous ones, such as the Venice Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, began their history in the 30's and despite critiques and negative reviews, they continue to be held every year. As a consequence, film festivals have become an object of study and several scholars have written articles and books about their functions and characteristics; but very little has been said about their utility, the relevance they have in the society and the impact they have on cinema.
The aim of this research is to explore cinema audience's, festival goers' and workers in cinema views and experiences of film festivals, trying to understand what values they give to them and trying to figure out if they believe that in difficult times, such as the one we are living through, a film exhibition is still necessary.
Background and rationale for the proposed research.
This study was inspired by a question posed by an Italian journalist to Alberto Barbera, director of the Venice Film Festival. During the annual festival's press conference the journalist asked if, according to Barbera, film festivals were still necessary. Obviously due to his position, the director gave a positive answer; but his direct and hasty statement did not come across to me as quite convincing.
In fact, when thinking about the times we are living through, doing a film festival seems the last thing we need; as digital technology allows people to watch films everywhere, spending big amounts of money on organising festivals could be seen as a waste of funds that could instead be used for something more useful. This subject is particularly relevant to me because being a festival attendee myself, I have never thought of film festivals other than in a positive way; therefore, questioning myself at first about their relevance is a crucial starting point; this is a matter that is centrally relevant to both my academic, professional and personal interests and that I would like to explore deeply.
In reviewing the existing literature about this subject, a similar query can be found in the book 50 Years of Cinema in Venice (Aprà,Ghigi, Pistagnesi, 1982), where Antonio Petrucci, author of the preface, explains how some people believe that it is not worth spending a big amount of money to organise a film festival in a period of mediocre films. But according to this theory, argues Petrucci, even art exhibitions and classical music concerts should be stopped as they do not always show beautiful pictures or make us listen to masterpieces. Therefore, the real purpose of a festival, of an exhibition and of a musical gathering, continues the author, should not be searching for masterpieces, but...