When attempting to answer the question of why film festivals exist, discussions tend to gravitate to the problem of distribution. In a competitive market that is driven by commercial objectives and molded by the aggressive strategies of major film companies, it is difficult for non-mainstream films to find theatrical distribution. Film festivals provide several “answers” to this problem. Gideon Bachmann (2000) distinguishes between “wholesale” and “retail” events: the former act primarily as markets where sales agents sell films, the latter are essentially exhibitors (cf. also Mark Peranson’s model of two kinds of festivals: business festivals and audience festivals [Peranson 2008, section 1.1]). “Wholesale” festivals revolve around the business of niche cinema markets, which is risky, but potentially lucrative when sufficiently tuned into the specific needs of “quality” products (Biskind 2004; Perren 2001, section 5). “Retail” festivals, on the other hand, fulfill a local function, showing films not (yet) available in regular theaters to people from the region. With the increasing pressure on art house exhibition and simultaneous boom in mid-sized and smaller film festivals, festivals themselves have become an alternative distribution method. Sales agents respond to the new situation by asking screening fees and revenues from ticket sales, putting added pressure on the low-budget festival organizations. In the studies below these current trends are described and evaluated. Some suggest an expansion to a “festival acquisition model,” in which films can be bought for distribution at film festivals (Bachmann 2000; Gaines 2008). Others speculate about the influence of digitalization on future distribution models (Gaines 2008; see also De Valck 2008, section 9.5).
Andrews, David (2010). “Art Cinema as Institution, Redux: Art Houses, Film Festivals, and Film Studies.” Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies 18 (2010). <http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/article.php?issue=18&id=1245>. (12. Dec. 2010)
Bachmann, Gideon (2000). “Insight into the Growing Festival Influence: Fest Vet Discusses ‘Wholesale’ and ‘Retail’ Events.” Variety.com 28 Aug. 2000. <http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117785609.html>. (7 Dec. 2007)
Burgess, Diane (2012). “Bridging the Gap: Film Festival Governance, Public Partners and the ‘Vexing’ Problem of Film Distribution.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies | Revue Canadienne d’Études Cinématographiques 21:1 (2012): 2-20.
Burgos, Sergi Mesonero (2008). “A Festival Epidemic in Spain.” Film International 6:4 (2008): 8–14.
De Valck, Marijke (2010). “De rol van filmfestivals in het YouTube-tijdperk.” Boekman 83 (2010): 54–60.
de Valck, Marijke (2012). “Convergence, Digitisation and the Future of Film Festivals.” Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-line. Eds. Dina Iordanova and Stuart Cunningham. St Andrews Film Studies. pp. 117–129.
Gaines, Christian (2008a). “State of the Fest – Part One: Do Festivals Matter?” (20 Aug. 2008) The Circuit – Blog on Variety.com. <http://www.variety.com/blog/1390000339/post/1980031998.html>. (7 Dec. 2008)
Gaines, Christian (2008b). “State of the Fest – Part Two: Things Gotta Change.” (21 Aug. 2008) The Circuit – Blog on Variety.com. <http://www.variety.com/blog/1390000339/post/50032005.html>. (7 Dec. 2008)
Iordanova, Dina (2009). “The Film Festival Circuit.” Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit. Eds. Dina Iordanova, and Ragan Rhyne. St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies. pp. 23–39.
Iordanova, Dina (2008). “The Festival Circuit.” Budding Channels of Peripheral Cinema: The Long Tail of Global Film Distribution. Blurb.com. pp. 25–32.
Roddick, Nick (2009). “Coming to a Server near You: The Film Festival in the Age of Digital Reproduction.” Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit. Eds. Dina Iordanova, and Ragan Rhyne. St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies. pp. 159–167.
(Last updated: 1 November 2012)