4. On the Red Carpet: Spectacle, Stars and Glamour

Many critics have written about the glamour of film festivals. Often they denounce the “hoopla” as distracting one from the cultural significance of the festival’s programming (Sklar 1996) or, on the other hand, they try to weaken the persistent myth of festival folly that was set by Cannes in the 1950s by focusing on the mundane realities of attending film festivals (Stapleton/Robinson 1983). Major international film festivals are closely linked with media coverage – unlike traditional tribal festivals and contemporary cultural festivals. As media events, film festivals are of great interest to different people: young girls longing to become famous (starlets), Hollywood companies looking to launch their next blockbuster (Jungen 2005, 2008), and filmmakers in search of an audience and (international) career. Instead of merely engaging in a celebration of local culture, international film festivals contribute to the creation of a transnational and cosmopolitan film culture, and to achieve this end they use spectacle, stars and glamour (Schwartz 2007). While many studies are critical of “Hollywood’s influence” on festivals, it is widely acknowledged that spectacular images and stories with popular appeal are the mortar that keeps the festival construction of “serious” film programming and criticism erect.

Castro, Jennifer de. “La star de Reflets de Cannes: l’image publique du Festival de Cannes.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, 2014, pp. 29–37. doi:10.1080/17409292.2015.982430.

Czach, Liz. “Cinephilia, Stars, and Film Festivals.” Cinema Journal, vol. 49, no. 2, 2010, pp. 139–45.

Jungen, Christian. “Der Journalist, ein Geschäftspartner der Studios: Starinterviews als Mittel der Filmpromotion.” Demnächst in Ihrem Kino: Grundlagen der Filmwerbung und Filmvermarktung, edited by Vinzenz Hediger and Patrick Vonderau, Schüren, 2005, pp. 297–312.

Jungen, Christian. “Nebenrolle Weltverbesserer: Wie Hollywoods Glamourgilde mit Politik das Starsystem neu prägt.” Cinema 55: Politik, edited by Philipp Brunner and et al., Schüren, 2010, pp. 10–26.

Jungen, Christian. Hollywood in Canne$: Die Geschichte einer Hassliebe, 1939-2008, Schüren, 2009.

Marshall, William. Film Festival Confidential, McArthur & Co., 2005.

Mezias, Stephen; Strandgaard Pedersen, Jesper; Kim, Ji-Hyun; Svejenova, Silviya; Mazza, Carmelo.“Transforming Film Product Identities: The Status Effects of European Premier Film Festivals, 1996–2005.” Negotiating Values in the Creative Industries: Fairs, Festivals and Competitive Events, edited by Brian Moeran and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 169–96.

Schamus, James. “See Here Now: Festival Red Carpets and the Cost of Film Culture.” Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals, edited by Jeffrey Ruoff, St Andrews Film Books, 2012, pp. 69–74.

Schwartz, Vanessa R. “The Cannes Film Festival and the Marketing of Cosmopolitanism.” It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture, University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 56–99.

Sklar, Robert. “Beyond Hoopla: The Cannes Film Festival and Cultural Significance.” Cineaste, vol. 22, no. 3, 1996, pp. 18–20.

Stapleton, John, and David Robinson. “All the Fun of the Festivals.” Films & Filming, no. 345, 1983, pp. 14–16.

(Last updated: 18 January 2021)