We love film festivals! Big or small, global or local, we’ve found ourselves in many corners of the world this year, sitting in the dark with other lovers of cinema, meeting minds with filmmakers over red-carpet velvet ropes—and maybe meeting you in the process. But there’s been a noticeably different tone to proceedings this season, as industry creatives continue their picket-line labor action. With star-power out, ticket sales are down, a trend that continues across subsequent releases (and delays) of films.
Even though it’s a fact of marketing life, it is still worrying that so much of the publicity push is invested in audiences seeing familiar faces—and that when those faces are absent in order to fight for the right to a fair contract, festivals and cinemas suffer. Off the back of the pandemic and with unfathomable grief and humanitarian crises in the headlines, it is an undoubtedly challenging year for folks at every level of the film industry. But when it comes to what we saw on screens, it only proves the point: we need boundary-pushing art from the world over, we need showcases for that work, and we need to commune around that work.
Be that at the world premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s out-of-retirement The Boy and the Heron in Toronto with Best in Show bestie Guillermo del Toro in attendance on intro duties, or by going deeper with Letterboxd member Martin Scorsese’s career-spanning Screen Talk with Edgar Wright in London, or, heck, even just learning about the sheer vibes of Aggro Dr1ft with masked-up director Harmony Korine in Venice. We’ve seen the movies, but we also saw many of the good folks who helped bring them to life, too.
Kambole Campbell, George Fenwick, John Forde, Brian Formo, Gemma Gracewood, Ella Kemp, Leo Koziol, Katie Rife, Rafa Sales Ross and Adesola Thomas have sifted through the good, the great and the good-luck-trying-to-find-a-star-rating for that one! from festivals including Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York, London, Austin and Beyond.