Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review of a Review

"Wallowing in Misery for Art's Sake"
by A.O. Scott - New York Times

It is both surprising and refreshing to me that this New York Times film columnist actually acknowledges the ubiquitous 
pretense of film festivals, being that people like him are often in close conjunction with the semantics of their production. 
Instead of an air of overall praise, he aligns himself with people like me who find it aggravating that a) the general public is 
rarely (if ever) given the opportunity to attend, b) most of the films screened (especially foreign submissions) are otherwise 
impossible to see, and c) independent films are sadly being taken off festival rosters in favor of manic depressive art films 
deemed worthy by executives (see title). 

I learned from this article that a large contributing factor to these issues is high brow film societies' disdain for "the American
art-movie economy" or "the independent sector" of festival submissions.  Scott explains that independent film companies, 
struggling along with the rest of the country from the wayward economy, have started commercializing their material, be it 
minimally and begrudgingly. Nevertheless, festival execs are aghast at the presence of any commercialization whatsoever and 
have hitherto cast a furrowed critical brow on indie gems, resulting in their gradual replacement with a slew of depressing 
featured films that display absolutely no evocation of viewing pleasure whatsoever. In other words, anything redemptive, 
American, and only-commercial-enough-to-put-food-on-the-table is rejected.  

Now, don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a despondent foreign film as much as the next guy, but those that I'm not as crazy 
about I wouldn't be able to see even if I wanted to. Scott alludes that the reason for this restriction is the executive assumption
that the general public isn't interested in these kinds of films, meaning there's no need for festivals to be made readily 
available. Neither are the films themselves for that matter, because any kind of mass distribution would certainly buck their 
"no commercialism" rule.

Mind's eye of festival execs: "If we eliminate the only films they'd be interested in attending and make every other film 
impossible to find then maybe we can make our high brow critical society even smaller..."

Thus, promotion to keep festival attendance a caste system of what Scott refers to as "a transnational fraternity of directors, 
journalists, and well, festival programmers" is in full swing.

After all that, I guess I'm just complaining because I feel left out, festival films are impossible to find, and I love indies. 

End of story.

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