Shades of Grey
Film festivals have become major spectacles of our times. They affect the business, culture and commerce of films. As central occasions to embrace cinema, they thrive on the hunger of cinema-lovers to nurture their tastes and passion for films. By some accounts, there are 7,000 film festivals around the world, in virtually every corner, from Bedouin tents to the glossy beaches of the French Riviera, from your own neighborhood to major cities on all continents.
The festivals influence the shaping of cultural identities, well beyond their role in forging connections between the filmmaking, marketing and finance communities. To some, that function of community building is as much a mirage as the goal of nurturing the love of cinema is overshadowed by the crass commercialism that parades at these spectacles.
And yet, as major global phenomenon film festivals serve many functions: they shape how communities come together, how they reassert themselves and how they connect to their own heritage.
For communities in diaspora, those attempting to find home away from home, film festivals offer spaces, opportunities for revelry, patronage of their own artists and moments of communion. This function is not unlike that served by religious or traditional festivals, which remind us who we are even in the midst of a life that rarely connects to traditional elements.