Sunday, September 26, 2010

Political Economy of Film Festivals

Perceptive sentence, from Manohla Dargis, in a New York Times article about film festivals:
It may be that the Toronto International Film Festival has emerged as one of the biggest, most influential festivals in the world specifically because it learned how to bridge that art-cinema world and those conglomerate-owned movie studios we nostalgically refer to as Hollywood.
There's been a boomlet in scholarship on film festivals, so Dargis's observations are not uncharted territory. All the same, while I've seen some discursive, ideological, and industrial readings of film festivals, including on the TIFF, I think there's still room to bridge micro- and macro- levels of this cultural exchange.

On top of that, there's two broad tendencies in the field of film history. The Gomery appropriation of Chandler-ite business history, with a goal to understand how corporations actually work (governance, structure, and behavior in markets). And the Marxian tendency to critique corporate culture as an ideological form. The two don't always talk to one another. I get the sense, admittedly off the cuff at this point, that there's more investment in the sell-out thesis of film festivals' corporate leanings than a close analysis of what corporations mean for film culture.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I'm starting to do some work in this direction, and Dargis's article is an interesting contribution. Although I am invested in Marxist approaches to culture, I think the simple "sell out" thesis obscures quite a bit. Full Frame, for example, used to receive quite a bit of support from The New York Times. That wasn't the case last year, and there was some concern that the festival might not be able to operate at its current level (which I think would be a major loss for documentary filmmakers and the local community).