Film Festival Sprawl - Sign of Global Modernity?

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



In the past two decades, film festivals have spread around the globe remarkably fast. They show high isomorphism in terms of organizational form, goals, programs and resourcing types, including strategies for institutional embedding in urban cultural policy planning contexts. At the same time they remain a highly stratified organizational population of which only the top tier--Western organizations--forms the core of the global festival circuit. According to global modernity (GM) scholars, we'd expect that Asian film festivals--part of the recent organizational founding wave--are active agents in the making of such a new modernity, showing signs of resilience to cultural imports while producing a sense of 'modern Asia'. The reality of Asian film-making as well as film festival organization and participation points to a rather different case scenario--that which agrees with the idea that Western culture remains the reference point for modernization and that cultural verification is mainly sought after in the West. Such a conception, however, belongs to the pre-GM phase of modernization. In this paper, we discuss the various meanings of this situation by empirical analysis of Asian professionals and policy makers: are they engaged in subordination, subversion, or something else? Is polycentric festival culture a sign of CHANging power relations? We launch a critique of GM as a testable concept for research in cultural and economic geography, as time-space patterns in the film festival globalization help with some part of the answer.


film festivals, global modernity, Asia, cities, global networks


Film and Media Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Research Areas



American Association of Geographers Annual Conference

City or Country

Washington, USA

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