Film Festivals: Cinema and Cultural Exchange.
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Historically the focus of journalistic reports, film festivals have recently started to attract the attention of academics, applying concepts from crossdisciplinary fields such as cultural studies and ethnography. As a result, film festivals are now gradually being institutionalised as a field of study within the wider discipline of Film Studies. This thesis adds to this growing body of literature by exploring film festivals as sites of cinematic, cultural, social, political and economic exchange, as well as the multiple ways in which these events produce cultural value. This thesis draws on three detailed case studies: the Buenos Aires Festival de Cine Independiente, known as BAFICI, in Argentina; the BFI London Film Festival in the UK; and the San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain. Issues of national identity, history and memory inform and become crystallised in each festival. They acquire a particular resonance in the tensions between national and regional allegiances in San Sebastián, as well as the pressures between cinema as culture and entertainment in the case of London. The focus on BAFICI allows for a development of the argument beyond critics and academics’ habitual focus on Western film festivals. Transnational events by nature, all three festivals relate in complex ways to their own national cinemas and localities, as well as to other festivals within the international circuit. My personal experience as film critic and reporter at festivals is underpinned by academic research, giving this project a dual perspective. With findings based on extensive interviews (primary research) with the teams responsible for programming the three festivals, this thesis aims to bring into the public domain the views of those who have shaped these festivals, creating a new body of material that can be drawn on by future scholars working in this area.
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