Curating the Cinematic Muse: The Role of Programming in the Film Festival Experience - The 40th Toronto International Film Festival
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International film festivals are clearly about something beyond the appreciation of cinema; they are forums for the collective exploration and celebration of films, showcasing the newest films, the exotic and forgotten cinematic productions. Within a contemporary context, they represent the ultimate celebration of cinema and films as a collection of creative texts. They engage participants in a celebratory environment that pays homage to film as an artform. The research examines an international film festival with a focus on the role of programming, through the exploration of the understated elements of this multidimensional phenomenon that impacts the festival event. The significance and original contribution of the research is found in its methodological intervention into the burgeoning field of film festival research through a specific investigation of a non-competitive international film festival. The research explores how programming impacts the festival event and the emergent experience. Furthermore, the research is approached from a supply-side perspective with summative insights that provided pathways to conceptualize an international film festival as a field-configuring event, with discourse on the less encompassing areas of organizing, programming and curating the festival event. The conceptual framework positions the research within an interdisciplinary context with theoretical perspectives from institutional theory, field configuring events and film festival studies to offer a broader lens to nuance the gleanings from film festival professionals. The research utilizes the qualitative research strategy of the case study augmented by research methods such as in-depth interviews with participants, textual analysis and secondary research to collect and analyze data to situate this investigation within a contemporary and historical context. The interview gives a distinct focus to the film festival programmers to share perspectives to understand the contexts and settings; how they navigate the programming and the elements that impact the festival event. Textual analysis is used as a corollary to understand and provide meanings from the setting, the related activities, voices and the film festival context. The research is on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), its diverse programming practices and discursive positioning of films in an inclusive and influential event. The researcher problematizes festival programming to examine the film festival and uncover from festival professionals, their perspectives from an immersive and participatory lens in relation to organizing, programming and curating the festival event that embolden its raison d’etre. The research findings revealed that there are multiple elements to programming an international film festival and curating the festival event and the emergent experience. The participants demonstrated their knowledge and expertise and how as a collective they understood the issues that are significant facets which are central to the film festival’s identity, status and reputation. Additionally, the discourse on the curation of the festival event and the emergent experience revealed characteristics of a field-configuring film festival event through several factors that were primarily connected to the multidimensional nature of the film festival - partnerships, collective sensemaking and information exchange that emerged as plausible and integral aspects both in a local and global context. The overall findings highlighted that there is need for further understanding of film festival as a phenomenon and the multidimensionality of programming; therefore the research suggests additional areas for scholarly investigation that can contribute to our understanding of film festivals and their interconnectedness in relation to our cultures and societies.
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Hugh Anthony Simmonds (2018). Curating the Cinematic Muse: The Role of Programming in the Film Festival Experience - The 40th Toronto International Film Festival. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14093
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