Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Thoughts on the London Film Festival (and others).

The hierarchy of film festivals remains a peculiar business. For all the bitching, nobody doubts that Cannes remains the most significant of the bunch. Even in a slow year — such as 2010 — the  French event still attracts as …

Sun, Oct 17, 2010, 22:40

   

The hierarchy of film festivals remains a peculiar business. For all the bitching, nobody doubts that Cannes remains the most significant of the bunch. Even in a slow year — such as 2010 — the  French event still attracts as much coverage as all other festivals put together. You can’t argue with history, tradition and inertia. Well, you can try. But you’ll lose.

Keira seems to have calmed down from the excitement of meeting Screenwriter earlier in the day.

Mind you, within the industry, Toronto rates almost as high. More new  films are premiered there than anywhere else. But — with apologies to our Canadian readers — that city doesn’t exactly radiate glamour and the scarcity of prizes means that popular newspapers pay little attention. As a result, the TIFF barely registers with even the most fanatical movie fan. The irony here is that, by all accounts, Toronto is friendlier to the public than any other major event. In Canada, it’s the people’s festival. Outside that country, it’s just for the cognoscenti.

The sad fact is that, whereas once the press paid attention to such venerable events as Karlovy Vary and San Sebastian, there are now really only three and a half festivals that make serious noise in mainstream outlets.

1. Cannes.

2. Venice

3. Berlin

3 1/2. Sundance.

Win one of those events and your film will still get something of a boost. It’s nice to win the Golden Yak at Tashkent. It’s cheering to be handed the Sabre of Triumph at Pyongyang. But neither will do much to help your film get distribution. Sadly, a small band of festivals now grab all the attention.

So, you might reasonably assume, Screenwriter and team get lots of good copy from the big three and a half. Not so. Cannes is, of course, useful for gossip and the sheer Cannesness of it all. But, when it comes to generating press interviews in this territory, the London Film Festival is way ahead of the pack. Over the fortnight, we will pick up interviews for Black Swan, Let Me In, Never Let Me Down, The Kids Are All Right, Biutiful, 127 Hours, Convction and a bunch of other films I have forgotten. I’m not even halfway through and I’m already a bit dazed. In a nice way.

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