8. Reception: Audiences, Communities and Cinephiles

The issue of programming is intimately connected to the issue of reception. Curators imagine a certain program and by doing so envision a way to highlight, promote and contextualize a film. The program, however, is also dependent on the audience and its actual reception. Film festivals offer a framework which generates certain audience expectations; with their program festival programmers (often) try to encourage the active reception of the audience (cf. Klippel 2008: 10). Some scholars and curators would even go so far as to say that programming means not (only) programming films but “programming the public” (Fung 1999, section 9.1.1). They point to the fact that programming directly influences the constituency of the audience – although no one can foresee what audience reaction and outcome a certain program will have (Stringer 2008).

The specific reception environment created by film festivals is largely defined by the event nature of the festival. While cinema attendance is often bemoaned as declining, festival attendances across the board are reported as going up. The possibility to see something first, or something one cannot see elsewhere, something unexpected – maybe even the added possibility to see a film star – brings people to the festival (cf. Reichel-Heldt 2007, section 1.1; cf. De Valck 2005).

For specialized festivals, the general feeling of belonging to a group, a cinephile community, is heightened by identity cues. Audience members of horror genre festivals (cf. Stringer 2008) or queer film festivals, to name just two examples, share a common interest that goes beyond film (or even a genre of film) in general. They meet with like-minded viewers, sometimes the subcultural community, when congregating at a festival screening. Such a specific context adds to the special nature of the reception setting. In a queer film festival, this might even result in critical, communal counter-readings of films (cf. Searle 1996, section 9.1.1). In a general sense, the setting and the programming structure of the event can induce a focused form of reception (discovering form, inferring meaning) which brings about “new cinemas” (Nichols 1994).

The multifaceted category “8. Reception: Audiences, Communities and Cinephiles” collects articles circling around several different aspects of reception: text-based reception studies, discussions on aspects of reception and cinephilia, reception environments and their link to communities, etc. This rubric will also include contributions from the area of Tourism Management and Business Studies. Among the new entries we want to highlight two pieces that present quantitative audience research on festival audiences. These articles currently listed (Lee/Lee/Wicks 2004; Lee et al. 2008) are likely to be the tip of a new iceberg.

Armatage, Kay (2008a). “Screenings by Moonlight.” Film International 6:4 (2008): 34–40.

Armatage, Kay (2008b). “Sidebar: Traveling Projectionist Films.” Film International 6:4 (2008): 41–42.

Ateşman, Özge Özdüzen (2015). “The Politicisation and ‘Occupy’sation of the Istanbul Film Festival Audience.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies  12:1 (2015): 679–702. <http://participations.org/Volume%2012/Issue%201/38.pdf>. (2 Jun. 2015)

Caillé, Patricia (2010). “A Tunisian Film Festival in Paris: Issues in Reception at the Intersection of French and Anglo-American Approaches to Cultural Analysis of the Diasporas.” French Cultural Studies  21:2 (2010): 85–96.

Davies, Lyell (2016). “Documentary Film Festivals and Ideological Transactions: Film Screening Sites at Hot Docs.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies | Revue Canadienne d’Études Cinématographiques  25:1 (2016): 88-100.

De Valck, Marijke (2010). “Reflections on the Recent Cinephilia Debates.” Cinema Journal 49:2 (2010): 132–139.

De Valck, Marijke (2005). “Drowning in Popcorn at the International Film Festival Rotterdam? The Festival as a Multiplex of Cinephilia.” Cinephilia: Movies, Love and Memory. Eds. Marijke de Valck, and Malte Hagener. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press. pp. 97–109.

Devesa, María, et al. (2015). “Factors Determining Attendance at a Film Festival.” Event Management  19:3 (2015): 317–330.

Dickson, Lesley-Ann (2014). “Film Festival and Cinema Audiences: A Study of Exhibition Practice and Audience Reception at Glasgow Film Festival.” PhD Thesis. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. (2014). <http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5693>. (6 Sep. 2015)

Dickson, Lesley-Ann (2015). “‘Ah! Other Bodies!’: Embodied Spaces, Pleasures and Practices at Glasgow Film Festival.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies  12:1 (2015): 703–724. <http://participations.org/Volume%2012/Issue%201/39.pdf>. (2 Jun. 2015)

Ercolano, Salvatore, Giuseppe Lucio Gaeta, and Benedetta Parenti (2017). “Individual Motivations and Thematically-Oriented Film Festival Attendance: An Empirical Study Based on Spectators of the Artecinema International Documentary Festival in Naples (Italy).” Quality & Quantity  51:2 (2017): 709–727.

Frohlick, Susan (2005). “‘That Playfulness of White Masculinity’: Mediating Masculinities and Adventure at Mountain Film Festivals.” Tourist Studies 5:2 (2005): 175–193.

Grunwell, Sandra S., Inhyuck ‘Steve’ Ha, and Bonnie S. Martin (2008). “A Comparative Analysis of Attendee Profiles at Two Urban Festivals.” Journal of Convention & Event Tourism 9:1 (2008): 1–14.

Hadley, Richard, Paula Whitehouse, and Mary Clarke(2006). Arts Festivals and the Visitor Economy: Their Contribution and their Potential in the West Midlands Region. London: Arts Council England, 2006. <www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/documents/publications/phprcsADv.pdf.>. (10 Aug. 2010)

Kerns, Susan Santha (2015). “From Calling ‘Action’ to Community Action: The Milwaukee Film Festival’s Conversation Series.” Synoptique 3:2 (2015): 101–113. <http://synoptique.hybrid.concordia.ca/index.php/main/article/view/52>. (12 Mar. 2015)

Kishore, Shweta (2013). “Beyond Cinephilia: Situating the Encounter between Documentary Film and Film Festival Audiences: The Case of the Ladakh International Film Festival, India.” Third Text  27:6 (2013): 735–747.

Koehler, Robert (2009). “Cinephilia and Film Festivals.” Dekalog 3: On Film Festivals. Ed. Richard Porton. London: Wallflower. pp. 81–97.

Koven, Mikel J. (2008). “Film Festivals as Spaces of Meaning: Researching Festival Audiences as Producers of Meaning.” The Worcester Papers in English and Cultural Studies 6 (2008). <http://www.worc.ac.uk/documents/MK_Issue6_2008.doc>. (19 Jul. 2009)

Lee, Choong-Ki, Yong-Ki Lee, and Bruce E. Wicks (2004). “Segmentation of Festival Motivation by Nationality and Satisfaction.” Tourism Management 25:1 (2004): 61–70.

Lee, Yong-Ki, Choong-Ki Lee, Seung-Kon Lee and Barry J. Babin (2008). “Festivalscapes and patrons’ emotions, satisfaction, and loyalty.” Journal of Business Research 61 (2008) 56–64.

Lindeperg, Sylvie (2007). ‘Nuit et brouillard’: Un film dans l’histoire. Paris: Edition Odile Jacob.

Lloyd, Matthew (2011). How the Movie Brats Took Over Edinburgh: The Impact of Cinéphilia on Edinburgh International Film Festival, 1968-1980. St. Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies.

Loist, Skadi (2015). “Über die Freuden kollektiver Filmerfahrung bei Filmfestivals.” [About the Pleasures of Collective Film Reception at Film Festivals.] Die Körper des Kinos: Für eine fröhliche Filmwissenschaft. Eds. Christian Hüls, Natalie Lettenewitsch, and Anke Zechner. Frankfurt am Main, Basel: Stroemfeld. pp. 207–214.

Martinez, Josu, et al. (2015). “Zinegin Basque Film Festival: A Non-Existent Audience Revealed.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies  12:1 (2015): 725–738. <http://participations.org/Volume%2012/Issue%201/40.pdf>. (2 Jun. 2015)

Nichols, Bill (1994). “Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning: New Cinemas and the Film Festival Circuit.” Film Quarterly 47:3 (1994): 16–30.

Palis, Joseph (2015). “Film Festivals, the Globalization of Images and Post-National Cinephilia.” The Pennsylvania Geographer  53:2 (2015): 35–47.

Park, Minkyung, Haemoon Oh, and Jowon Park (2010). “Measuring the Experience Economy of Film Festival Participants.” International Journal of Tourism Sciences  10:2 (2010): 35–54.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2003). “Sampling in Rotterdam.” Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia. Eds. Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Adrian Martin. London: British Film Institute. pp. 52–60.

Stevens, Kirsten (2013). “See It at a Festival Near You: The Film Festival as Exhibition Practice in Melbourne, 1952-2012.” PhD Thesis. Melbourne: Monash, Film and Television Studies, School of English, Communication and Performance Studies.

Stringer, Julian (2008). “Genre Films and Festival Communities: Lessons from Nottingham, 1991-2000.” Film International 6:4 (2008): 53–59.

Tascon, Sonia M. (2017). “Watching Others’ Troubles: Revisiting ‘The Film Act’ and Spectatorship in Activist Film Festivals.” Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject. Eds. Sonia M. Tascon, and Tyson Wils. London: intellect. pp. 21-37.

Tascon, Sonia M., and Tyson Wils, eds. (2017). Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject. London: intellect.

Unwin, Elinor, et al. (2007). “Getting the Picture: Programme Awareness amongst Film Festival Customers.” International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing 12:3 (2007): 231–245.

Vivar, Rosana (2016). “A Film Bacchanal: Playfulness and Audience Sovereignty in San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies  13:1 (2016): 234–251. <http://www.participations.org/Volume%2013/Issue%201/S1/6.pdf>. (26 Jul. 2017)

Vivar Navas, Rosana (2016). “Los festivales de cine en la era de los ‘new media’: Una perspectiva lúdica sobre las fiestas del cine y sus públicos.” [“Film festivals in the era of the ‘new media’: A playful perspective on film festivals and their audiences.”] PhD Thesis. Granada: Universidad de Granada, Departamento de Información y Documentación. (2016).

Winkler, Ines, et al. (2007). “Das Filmfestival “AUSNAHME|ZUSTAND“: Eine Strategie gegen die Stigmatisierung psychisch kranker Menschen?” Psychiatrische Praxis 35:1 (2007): 33–39. <https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/pdf/psychiat-praxis/doi/10.1055/s-2007-970885.pdf>. (7 Jul. 2010)

Winton, Ezra, and Svetla Turnin (2017). “The Revolution Will Not Be Festivalized: Documentary Film Festivals and Activism.” Activist Film Festivals: Towards a Political Subject. Eds. Sonia M. Tascon, and Tyson Wils. London: intellect. pp. 81-103.

Yolal, Medet, et al. (2015). “A Pilot Study on Spectators’ Motivations and Their Socio-Economic Perceptions of a Film Festival.” Journal of Convention & Event Tourism  16:3 (2015): 253–271.


(Last updated: 26 July 2017)