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 (2014). “La star de Reflets de Cannes: l’image publique du Festival de Cannes.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies  19:1 (2014): 29–37.

Czach, Liz (2010). “Cinephilia, Stars, and Film Festivals.” Cinema Journal 49:2 (2010): 139–145.

Jungen, Christian (2010). “Nebenrolle Weltverbesserer: Wie Hollywoods Glamourgilde mit Politik das Starsystem neu prägt.” Cinema 55: Politik. Eds. Philipp Brunner et al. Marburg: Schüren. pp. 10-26.

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

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

Marshall, William (2005). Film Festival Confidential. Toronto: McArthur & Co.

Mezias, Stephen, et al. (2011). “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. Eds. Brian Moeran, and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 169–196.

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

Schwartz, Vanessa (2007). “The Cannes Film Festival and the Marketing of Cosmopolitanism.” It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture. Chicago/London: Univ. of Chicago Press. pp. 56–99.

Sklar, Robert (1996). “Beyond Hoopla: The Cannes Film Festival and Cultural Significance.” Cineaste 22:3 (December 1996): 18–20.

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


(Last updated: 6 September 2015)