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): 29–37. https://doi.org/10.1080/17409292.2015.982430.

Czach, Liz. 2010. “Cinephilia, Stars, and Film Festivals.” Cinema Journal 49 (2): 139–45.

DeRoo, Rebecca J. 2021. “Agnès Varda and Le Collectif 50/50 En 2020: Power and Protest at the Cannes Film Festival.” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 36 (1): 127–53. https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-8838577.

Formenti, Cristina, Francesco Pitassio, and Sara Sampietro. 2022. ““What Am I Doing Here?”: Film Festivals, Awards Shows, and Stars During the COVID-19 Emergency.” Cinergie – Il Cinema e le altre Arti, no. 21: 21–33. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2280-9481/14491.

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

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

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

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

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

Mitchell, Sed. 2021. “Glamorous Work: Notes from the Red Carpet.” Visual Anthropology Review 37 (1): 142–63. https://doi.org/10.1111/var.12228.

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

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

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

St. John, Matt. 2021. “From Cannes to Cardboard: The Circulation and Promotion of Visages Villages and the Auteur on Instagram.” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 36 (1): 155–85. https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-8838589.

Stapleton, John, and David Robinson. 1983. “All the Fun of the Festivals.” Films & Filming (345): 14–16.

(Last updated: 11. April 2024)