PRINT November 1977

Edinburgh: The Film Festival Remodeled

VENICE, IN 1936, WAS THE SITE of the first film festival, created by Benito Mussolini as a way to promote tourism. Mussolini’s child propagated quickly. Today, 41 years later, approximately 280 film festivals are held annually throughout the world. There is a saying among veteran festival-goers that the first thing a country does when it achieves independence is to establish an airline, the second thing, a film festival. Many festivals, including those at Venice and Cork, are financed by tourist boards. At its beginning then, Mussolini set the precedent for the film festival’s consumer orientation.

Added to tourism, and often eclipsing it, is the notion of the festival as a marketplace for exhibiting and distributing new work, to say nothing of securing future contracts and production money. Cannes is the largest market, with five separate festivals showing hundreds of new works held

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