September 27, 2001

Avantgarde Meets Hollywood

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Every year, all over the world, aspiring filmmakers in every nation are picking up their cameras and making films on every kind of budget imaginable — from the tightest shoestring to the largest big-studio spending spree. The beautiful thing about cinema is that all these films, with a well-written story and strong acting, have the potential for greatness. And where, you ask, can Hollywood moguls — and their international counterparts — rub elbows with relative unknowns?

The answer, of course, is the yearly run of international film festivals.


Beginning as an initiative instituted by the Western Allies, the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, was first held in the summer of 1951. The festival began as a way to revive the arts in post-war Germany. Opening on June 6th of that year, the first festival was a great success, and within the next five years was attracting major international attention. In its early days, the Berlinale was host to such talents as Errol Flynn and Sophia Loren.

By 1956 the festival had gained so much popularity that an international jury was appointed to decide the festival winners, superceding the old system of audience selection. This effectively elevated the event’s status, cementing its reputation as an artistically important forum on par with the Cannes festival. Today the festival’s famous “Golden Bear” is one of the most coveted prizes among international filmmakers.

Originally held in the Summer, the festival is scheduled to take place February 6 – 17 of next year.

— Nate Brown


Jean Cocteau said that the Cannes International Film Festival “Is an apolitical no-man’s-land, a microcosm of what the world would be like if people could contact each other directly and speak the same language.”

Cocteau’s sentiment seems quite correct when one considers that the town of Cannes, France nearly triples in size during the annual event, bringing internationally acclaimed actors, directors and producers together in this scenic Riviera town. The initial Festival was scheduled for 1939 but was postponed due to the events of World War II. Seven years later, in 1946, the event finally got off the ground.

The some 4,000 journalists on-hand for the event serve as a testament to the festival’s glamorous nature and mass appeal. Cannes, generally regarded as the most important French city following Paris, has a bustling restaurant, hotel and botique industry that thrives on the Festival. The combination of the town’s resort status and its star-studded history has made the Cannes festival one of the most important and most recognized festivals in the world.

Held each May, the Cannes International Film Festival is one of the most anticipated and attended festivals of the year.

— Nate Brown


The International Film Festival Rotterdam, one of the largest in the world, yearly receives over 300,000 visitors for its 200 feature films and over 250 shorter features. The festival center is the Schouwburgplein, a beautifully designed square off of which all the venues are located within walking distance.

The 2002 festival will take place from January 23 through February 3 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The 2002 films have not been announced yet, but besides the usual run of world and international premieres by relatively unknown newcomers, Rotterdam always features a number of new films by more established international directors. With a diverse array of programs and films, the IFFR more than lives up to its reputation as the biggest and best.

— Ed Howard


What do David Lynch, Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Eric Rohmer all have in common? Of course, (besides being all men) The New York Film Festival. Just shy of its 40th year of presenting the best that the film world has to offer, the festival will surely be, like all the past ones, a cineaste’s dream. Kicking off this weekend are 17 film-filled days.

The first of the 43 films being shown is Jacques Rivette’s Va Savoir (Who Knows?) and the festival’s centerpiece is the much anticipated new film by David Lynch, Mullhullond Drive. The NY Film Festival is known for showcasing emerging filmmakers, who then soon become household names. Wes Anderson, who was rocketed to fame after showing Rushmore at the festival, returns to present The Royal Tenenbaums. The festival is also regarded as the premier venue for international films- more than 20 countries are representated in this year’s festival.

— Diana Lind


This year’s Toronto film festival will always be remembered for what it wasn’t rather than what it was supposed to be. Marred by the tragedies of September 11, the festival continued to show films, but without the parties and red-carpet treatment the festival has been known for in the past. Noted films include the festival’s closing film, Lantana, an Australian film starring Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia. Sadly, a showing of it was interupted after the news of the terrorist attacks reached Canada, leaving the audience shaken and confused. The most seen film of the festival, La Chambre des Officiers, is from France’s veteran director, Francois Dupeyon. However, this year’s festival did not focus on box office reports and distributors scouring the competition for the next breakthrough film. Instead, the somber tone of this year’s festival was only uplifted by the loyal Toronto audience which sought out films as a means of escape.

— Diana Lind


Founded on the principals of artistic and political freedom, the Venice International Film Festival was first held in August of 1932, making it one of the earliest festivals of its kind. It was at once an attempt to promote Italian cinema abroad and to bring foreign films to the Italian market. However, just two years after it premiered, control of the festival shifted from the Institute of Educational Cinema to another, more bureaucratic governmental board. From that point on, the festival was marred by censorship and propaganda.

The onset of World War II magnified the impact of the state’s control on the festival. During that time, French and American films were excluded from the festival, replaced by the first movies to come out of Franco’s Spain along with a slew of German films. Even after the war, the festival was known for its distinct political edge, keeping potential contributors and audience members away.

Today the festival has finally made a significant comeback and, indeed, may be one of the more trendy international film events. With less international attention than, say, the Cannes festival, the Venice festival attracts A-list stars, filmmakers, writers and directors every summer, and is fast becoming the festival of choice among the international film community.

— Nate Brown


The Montreal World Film Festival, held every year at the end of August, is an international showcase of great cinema. This year, the festival was held from August 23 through September 3, and a total of 24 films competed for the Grand Prix of the Americas, the top prize filmmakers can net in Montreal. Among the competitors were films from the US, Spain, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, and Iran. In fact, a major selling point
of the event is its diversity, with directors from over 60 nations submitting films to the festival every year.

This year, the Grand Prix went to Hungarian director Arpad Sopsits’s Torzok (“Abandoned”) and Baran by Iranian director Majid Majidi. The Festival Jury also awarded a special Grand Prix to Argentinian Juan Jos