3. Festival Space: Cities, Tourism and Publics

In recent years, research on tourism has contributed significantly to spatial analyses of cultural festivals. There are two perspectives: the “arts and urban development” perspective sees festivals “as a catalyst for urban renewal, attracting tourists and capital investments, enhancing a city’s image and creating new jobs” (Crespi-Valbona/Richards 2007: 106, section 1.3), while the “liveable cities” perspective stresses how communities can appropriate commodified festival events for their own purposes, such as self-identification, and a local sense of community and place. Ros Derrett argues that it is possible to strengthen community cultural development and cultural tourism simultaneously with festivals that share their community’s “culture” with visitors (2000, 2003). At film festivals the connection between the festival’s content and regional distinctiveness of its location, however, is less obvious. Most programs have a strong international character and attract cosmopolitan visitors that want to celebrate and consume world/art cinema. Julian Stringer argues that festivals market both global similarity and conceptual difference, often using local attractions to compete in the contemporary global space economy. Taking the unevenly differentiated power relations between nations and regions into consideration, he regards the international film festival circuit as “a series of diverse, sometimes competing, sometimes cooperating public spheres” (Stringer 2001: 138). In addition, film festivals can be argued to provide counter-public spheres, for culture/aesthetics as well as (leftist) politics (Shapiro 2007; S. Kim 1998, section 9.1).

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(Last updated: 11. April 2024)