Ask Not What Your Festival Can Do For You
Emru Townsend · From fps #7 · April 22, 2006 | Living here in Montreal, it's easy to get jaded about festivals of any stripe, because we're surrounded by them. Maybe it's just because of my bias, but it seems like there are more film festivals than anything else, and animation is usually pretty well represented. We're also pretty lucky to be within driving distance of Ottawa, Toronto, New York City and Boston. I happen to think festivals are pretty important, especially in the animation community: they're the only place where art, industry and audience truly connect with one another.
The same is true, incidentally, of festivals' cousins, conferences and conventions. To my mind, the only difference between the three is balance. Conferences lean much heavier toward industry and art, with little focus on audience; the SIGGRAPH and the Society for Animation Studies conferences, for instance, are jam-packed with professionals and academics in the field. Conventions, on the other hand, lean far more toward fans, though the professionals that do attend are every bit as laid-back and accessible as those at festivals.
Festivals fall somewhere in between, though the closer you get to a "true" animation festival (like those held in Ottawa, Annecy or Zagreb), the closer you get to a balance between the three elements; festivals like Fantasia, which concentrate more on screenings than workshops or panels, tilt more in the direction of conventions.
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