It is a truth universally acknowledged, that as soon as the sun comes out in England, the country is swept with festival fever.
Above: Bestival Music Festival
In all the high street shops there are tassels and tie-dye. Plastered over the media are endless adverts, promotions and teasers. Line-ups are anxiously awaited, tickets excitedly bought and preparations made for weeklong, music and mud filled extravaganzas. Flocks of people give up their cleanliness, mattresses and indoor plumbing to experience the likes of Bestival, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals. It is the time for music and sunshine (or, more accurately, sunny spells with interspersed showers) and, as such, the delights of many film festivals are overlooked at this time of year.
Of course everyone has heard of the Sundance festival that comes around at the beginning of each year, but many overlook the glorious host of film festivals that take place throughout the world at this time. Festivals like the Venice, Cannes and Berlin film festivals have seen the emergence of some of the greatest creative minds in the independent cinematic industry and bring together creative talent from across the globe into one giant cinematic orgy.
Source: Google Images
As the oldest international film festival, the Venice Film Festival, which takes place annually at the end of August, is celebrating it’s 72nd birthday this year. The festival is part of the Venice Biennale, which is an international art exhibition of architecture, visual arts, cinema, dance, music and theatre that takes place every two years. The Biennale was founded in 1895 by the Venetian City Council and has since been a huge success. During this event some of the finest new and classic artistic talents gather in the gorgeous Lido section of the city to celebrate all manner of creativity. It is truly a breathtaking event.
What a shame, then, that these events are dismissed as for the ‘elite’, for the ‘artistic aficionado.’ Many of these international film festivals are either extremely expensive to attend and rather intimidating to newcomers who might not necessarily be familiar with the independent and short film industries. Music festivals in comparison seem much less intimidating and more accessible to the modern citizen, which I think is a great shame for the film industry. Must us commoners be banished to the lands of tents and fields to experience art?
The relative obscurity of these international film festivals is mirrored in the general ignorance surrounding independent and short films. With Hollywood Blockbusters dominating media coverage, we are missing out on some of the most beautiful creations in the world. Partly to blame is the fact that most of these independent films are quite difficult to get hold of, and partly is the ignorance of their existence. Therefore, I urge you to give something new a try. Delve into the world of independent film and whet your cultural appetite with a few of the more accessible independent masterpieces.
If you’re in Bath, I would suggest a visit to the ‘Little Theatre Cinema’ which plays some wonderful independent films from all over the world. Or if you would rather not leave the comfort of your home, take a look at the ‘Independent’ or ‘World Cinema’ sections on Netflix (I particularly like Frances Ha, Little Darlings, Restless and Amelie). Not only do these films feature some of your favourite Hollywood actors, but they are a breath of fresh air in the midst of countless ‘samey’ Hollywood train wrecks.
Alternately, if you’re looking for something a little snippier, the Australian ‘thevoicesproject’ on YouTube has produced some wonderfully moving short films based on everything from poems to personal monologues, each performed and filmed by incredible new young talents (Bat Eyes has to be my favourite). Short of the Week is another hub of artistic talent worth a look, they publish short films each week from all around the world. These are some wonderful alternatives if you don’t have the cash or don’t feel particularly comfortable attending a film festival this summer.
Ditch the tents, messy campsites and mosh pits, grab your laptop and some popcorn and have an international film festival of your own for a night of sophisticated artistic indulgence that will open your eyes to the world of indie film culture.
Article by Daniella Bassett