- Introduction to Special Issue
the articles collected in this edition of the Journal of Film and Video have been selected because they represent a wide range of film and media arts festivals. The various authors explore a breadth of national and international festival events. Using the lenses of history, culture, community, and academia, they offer a multilayered and prismatic understanding of the current state of film and media arts festivals and reflect on their various contributions to this ever-changing distribution cycle.
Our essay, “Media Festivals: Scholarship and Artistry in Practice,” establishes the involvement of various stakeholders in the rapidly expanding field of film and media festivals that have come to enhance and even substitute for theatrical distribution. We contend that whether the events are regional, niche-based, commercial, or academic, they provide a critical role for cinema and media faculty members in the development and participation of festival programming and events. We propose necessary adjustments to workload considerations for faculty involved in media arts festivals. These academics who teach the next generation of film and media arts watchers, critics, and creators are vital to media arts festivals and events.
Antoine Damiens’s essay, “Film Festivals of the 1970s and the Subject of Feminist Film Studies: Collaborations and Regimes of Knowledge Production,” analyzes the labor done by early feminists in contributing to feminist film studies. By exploring relationships, the organizers’ roles, and the festivals themselves, the article reveals the connections between scholarship, festival organizing, and community building that impacted the growth of feminist film studies as an academic discipline.
Carmen Herrero’s essay, “The Beyond Babel Multilingual Film Festival,” presents a compelling argument for university-produced arts festivals to advance community engagement across cultural differences. Herrero’s fascinating description of the event and the model proposed is valuable to institutions that may be in similar multilingual/multicultural environments. Participation in this type of film and media arts gathering can offer an opportunity to bridge community differences.
“The World Screen: Japan’s Cinematic Reinvention and International Film Festivals” by Lance Lomax describes Japan’s involvement in the creation of film festivals in the nation’s efforts to achieve cultural recognition for films created by Japanese filmmakers after World War II. Lomax recalls the impact of Kurosawa’s international success and the political and cultural desire to create competitive events in Japan and Asia where his and other Japanese films could be highlighted. These festivals became a cultural corrective about progress and success in cultural growth exchange in this period of historical reconciliation.
M. Africanus Aveh’s “FESPACO—Promoting African Film Development and Scholarship” discusses the demise of public audience space in West Africa and the importance of the FESPACO festival to film production and scholarship. This is an important story for cinephiles interested in the development of African film. It speaks to [End Page 3] the importance of festival events in regard to public involvement in cinematic arts.
We have also included two important case studies regarding Midwest feminist film festivals on college campuses. Susan Kerns and Michelle Yates’s “Activist Praxis Meets Project-Based Learning: A Case Study of Student Involvement at the Chicago Feminist Film Festival” and Ann Breidenbach’s “Festival Mamas Building the Women’s Club: A Case Study” both feature the importance of incorporating project learning through festivals into the classroom. The recent cancellation of one of these festivals emphasizes the critical yet tenuous relationship of academia with women’s and feminist festivals. These case studies highlight applied feminist and film and media studies pedagogies and student involvement in festival events and stress the importance of properly resourcing festivals.
There is limited scholarship dedicated to film and media festivals, particularly in relationship to higher education. We are honored to bring these articles and essays to your attention and look forward to further discussion about this important subject. As academics who produce and work with festivals, we are hoping to create a community of artists and scholars who do similar work. It is our goal that the knowledge we gain in producing individual festival events can be shared with other academics interested in media arts festivals.
Faculty who do this work need appropriate...