The Making of Film Festivals

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The Making of Film Festivals

March 15, 2016

How did film festivals emerge and what are the factors that propelled their rapid growth so that today just about any city anywhere of any appreciable size can be said to host at least one festival-like film event?  What has been gained, but also what has been lost, by rapid, unexpected growth of film festivals across the world?

Drawing upon his personal experience of 25 years as the Director of the New York Film Festival, Columbia University Professor of Film Studies Richard Peña presented an autobiographical journey of his relationship to international cinema and the passions and experiences that guided his decisions and style as festival director.    

The talk was followed by a panel discussion with Anupama Chopra, Director of the 17th Mumbai Film Festival of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) moderated by Dr. Ravina Aggarwal, Director of the Columbia Centers | Mumbai. The discussion included understanding the commercial model behind both film festivals. Professor Peña and Ms. Chopra shared anecdotes from their experience in getting funders to support the programming.  Another important issue that emerged was how the film festival space could be made more inclusive to include wider and diverse audiences. The discussants agreed on the need for integrating the academic resource base more firmly and Professor Peña stressed the need for encouraging students to participate. This, according to him would cultivate a future generation of film connoisseurs. The diverse experience of the Mumbai Film Festival as being located in a city influenced by Bollywood was juxtaposed against that of New York for viewing world cinema.

An interesting mix of film buffs, academics and festival organizers attended the event.