7. Programming

Programming or curating is an aesthetic practice and an essential part of film culture that can be found in film clubs, program/arthouse cinemas, in exhibition contexts and most obviously in film festivals (Klippel 2008). Surprisingly the practice of programming is one that – like film festivals – has been neglected for study until very recently.

The vast majority of the pieces addressing the issue of programming assembled here are written from a practical point of view. They aim to explain the decision-making processes at work during the act of programming behind the scenes of film festivals (Krach 2003; Thomson 2003), explicate the ideas and ideals of curators: many are written by curators themselves (Czach 2004; Givanni 2004; Haslam 2004; Marks 2004; Sandlos 2004; Schulte-Strathaus 2004, 2008; Straayer/Waugh 2005, section 9.1.1); others are interviews with curators (Gramann 2008; Gregor/Gregor 2008; Han/Morohoshi 2004; Noll Brinkmann 1990) or biographies (Heijs/Westra 1996).

Beyond the specifics of the act of programming, there are more general concerns addressed. The context of film programming and film reception plays an important role for programmers (Lehrer 1999). On a broader scale the analysis of programming also gives insights into (economic) exploitation strategies that can be found in the dealings of film festivals, by industry and festival alike (Stringer 2003a, b), and how this influences film criticism, scholarship and canon formations (Stringer 2003, section 1.1; see also June 2004, section 9.1.1)

We administered a further distinction in the (7) Programming section. The category has now been divided into three subcategories: (7.1) Issues of Festival Programming; (7.2) Interviews with Programmers; and (7.3) Film Festivals and Questions of Aesthetics. The third subcategory responds directly to the recent trend among film festival scholars to scrutinize the ways in which festivals influence film production aesthetically. We believe that the new heading better represents the important work (in progress) on the notion of festival films and on the genre of international art cinema.

7.1 Issues of Festival Programming
7.2 Interviews with Programmers
7.3 Film Festivals and Questions of Aesthetics
7.4 Films and Filmmakers on the Festival Circuit


Bosma, Peter. 2015. Film Programming: Curating for Cinemas, Festivals, Archives. Short cuts 59. New York: Wallflower.

Cherchi Usai, Paolo, David Francis, Alexander Horwath, and Michael Loebenstein, eds. 2008. Film Curatorship: Archives, Museums and the Digital Marketplace. Wien: Synema – Gesellschaft für Film und Medien.

Czach, Liz. 2016. “Affective Labor and the Work of Film Festival Programming.” In Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, edited by Marijke de Valck, Brendan Kredell, and Skadi Loist, 196–208. London, New York: Routledge.

Diestro-Dópido, Mar. 2021. Film Festivals: Cinema and Cultural Exchange. Cambridge: Legenda; Modern Humanities Research Association.

Frodon, Jean-Michel. 2022. “Who’s Choice? Who’s Voice? Can Festival Programmers and Film Critics Stand Away from the Market Diktats but Not from Societal Issues?” Cinergie 11 (22): 97–103. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2280-9481/15640.

Gann, Jon. 2012. Behind the Screens: Programmers Reveal How Film Festivals Really Work. Washington, DC: Reel Plan Press.

Klippel, Heike, ed. 2008. “The Art of Programming”: Film, Programm Und Kontext. Münster: LIT.

Marks, Laura U., ed. 2004. “Film Programming Dossier.” Special issue, Moving Image 4, no. 1.

Rastegar, Roya Zahra. 2016. “Seeing Differently: The Curatorial Potential of Film Festival Programming.” In Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, edited by Marijke de Valck, Brendan Kredell, and Skadi Loist, 181–95. London, New York: Routledge.

Rüffert, Christine. 2010. “’Writing a Text That Will Be Read with the Body’: Curating as a Somatic Act.” In Vom Kino lernen: Internationale Perspektiven der Filmvermittlung, edited by Bettina Henzler, Winfried Pauleit, Christine Rüffert, Karl-Heinz Schmid, and Alfred Tews. 1st ed., 150–63. Berlin: Bertz + Fischer.

Ruoff, Jeffrey, ed. 2012. Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals. St. Andrews: St Andrews Film Books.

(Last updated: 21. April 2024)