Leading Festivals New York Cannes Toronto

Festivals vary in how they choose their films and what types they show, in the degree of geographical diversity they seek, in their willingness to give prizes, and in many other respects. The New York Film Festival presents films chosen by a five-member selection committee— two permanent members who are full-time employees of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and three rotating members (film critics or scholars) who serve terms of three to five years. The event has broadened its scope over the years, adding more special screenings and sidebar programs, including an annual weekend of avantgarde cinema that is unique among major festivals. It remains noncompetitive, however, and considers itself a "public festival'' where the intended audience consists primarily of movie buffs, in contrast to the large contingents of film professionals who attend larger-scale North American and European festivals.

By common consensus, Cannes is the single most important film festival in the world. This is partly because of its age, partly because of its size, and partly because success tends to breed success—in other words, the festival traditionally thought of as the most influential is indeed the most influential for that very reason. The Cannes program is chosen by the festival director with the advice of assistant programmers assigned to specialized fields (documentary, Asian cinema, short films, and so on). Robert Favre le Bret, Gilles Jacob, and most recently Thierry Fremaux have had final say over the selection since 1972, when the festival eliminated its policy of allowing each participating country to choose its own presentations. Cannes divides its programs into several categories. The most highly visible is the Competition, usually comprising two features for each day of the twelve-day event, many of them directed by established auteurs of world cinema. Films directed by favored newcomers, including actors with Cannes credentials like Johnny Depp (The Brave, 1997) and Vincent Gallo (The Brown Bunny, 2003), also make their way into the Competition from time to time, although in the eyes of most critics the results in these two cases were disastrous. The main sidebar program, Un Certain Regard ("A Certain Look''), focuses on movies by newer


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