×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shanghai: Festivals Grapple With How to Stay Relevant in the Digital Era

Festival organizers from around the world Tuesday discussed the challenges of remaining relevant in a digital era at a Shanghai International Film Festival forum.

The Festival do Rio’s executive director, Ilda Santiago, noted that online platforms are now an unavoidable part of the film business and creative process, and that “of course not all of them are so keen on physical festivals.” Her festival in Rio de Janeiro has tried to work in a limited way with online streaming, and she will continue to explore such avenues as long as online services were “expanding the possibilities of the films… and what we do,” she said.

“We can’t have 1,000 films in the festival, but I’m sure there are 1,000 good films to be screened. I’m old school in that I still think the big screen is the thing, but… I don’t want the audience to be imprisoned,” she said.

New York Asian Film Festival executive director Samuel Jamier found the figure a bit overgenerous. “We’ll be showing 50 films, but are there even 50 great films this year? I’m not so sure,” he said.

Festivals have to stick to their purpose of helping audiences cut through the noise and find the content they’ll enjoy. “What happens with the digital age is that we’re reaching the point of absolute availability,” Jamier said. “[The arrival of] Netflix doesn’t mean that people know movies better, and it doesn’t even necessarily mean people watch more movies. [The ability to download] just means that people accumulate a lot of files on their hard drives.”

Festivals increasingly add value thanks to their curation of a finite number of films. “There’s only so many stories you can digest at a time,” he said. “I think the [purpose] of festivals is to bring things into focus.”

Santiago added that festivals can also keep themselves on the map with an accompanying market. “You want to give your audiences what they want — the big films that created a lot of buzz in the 20 or so main film festivals we all follow very closely — but you also want to give them something different. That’s very hard. That’s the point where you can [benefit from] bringing producers and directors to a market environment.”

Shanghai’s managing director, Fu Wenxia, said her team often asked itself “how do we match what’s happening online.”

“Offline interactions are still very important. Other than watching films, you also have to socialize. Festivals should emphasize this difference,” she said. “We have to find a way to do more offline events so industry players have more chances to meet each other and directors have more chances to meet their audiences.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava

    Slovak Artist Juraj Horvath Gives Ji.hlava Film Festival Its Distinctive Look

    The distinctive look and feel of the Czech Republic’s Ji.hlava film festival – fringy, arty, a bit punk via eco-warrior – is down in many ways to one man: Juraj Horvath. The Slovak artist, provocateur and illustrator of children’s books has created what he calls the “visual identity” of the docu fest for 20 years [...]

  • Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The

    Edgar Ramirez to Star in ‘The War Has Ended’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Ramirez, best known for “Carlos” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” will star in the drama “The War Has Ended,” from writer and director Hagar Ben-Asher’s award-winning original script about a man in search of his children. Mister Smith Entertainment will launch international sales at next month’s American Film Market. The film is being [...]

  • Spanish Antitrust Regulator to Probe U.S.

    Spanish Regulator to Probe U.S. Studios Over Possible Anti-Competitive Practices

    Spanish antitrust regulator, the National Commission of Markets and Competition, has launched an 18-month probe into possible anti-competitive practices by the local distribution branches of Hollywood studios Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and Paramount, as well as local companies providing digital services and exhibitors. The antitrust body said it was investigating 14 companies “for [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers Honoring Frederick

    American Society of Cinematographers to Honor Frederick Elmes

    The American Society of Cinematographers will honor Frederic Elmes with a lifetime achievement award. The ASC is also honoring Donald A. Morgan with the career achievement in television award, Bruno Delbonnel with the international award; and Don McCuaig with the presidents awards. The accolades will be presented at the annual ASC awards gala on Jan. [...]

  • 'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Nominated for

    'American Factory,' 'Apollo 11' Score International Documentary Award Nominations

    “American Factory,” “Apollo 11,” “For Sama” and “The Edge of Democracy” have scored multiple nominations for the International Documentary Awards. “Advocate,” “Honeyland,” “Midnight Family,” “One Child Nation,” “Sea of Shadows,” and “The Biggest Little Farm” also received nods. The 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards will be held on Dec. 7 at Paramount Studios in Los [...]

  • Joker Movie 2019

    Box Office: How 'Joker' Became Insanely Profitable

    Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” has become a certified box office sensation, earning $744 million in worldwide ticket sales after less than a month in theaters. Making that haul all the sweeter, Warner Bros., the studio behind the R-rated origin story about Batman’s nemesis, spent $62.5 million to finance the film, a fraction of what most comic-book [...]

  • Mackenzie Davis Terminator Dark Fate

    ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ads placed for the sci-fi action film had an estimated media value of $6.81 million through Sunday for 796 national ad airings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content