A Cultural Data Analysis of the International Film Festival Participation Network

Jun 23, 2022
European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) conference, National University of Theatre and Film, Bucharest, Romania


The festival circuit forms an organic part of the film industry system, characterised by complex network structures of individuals, companies, and events (Loist, 2016). Festivals create cultural value by advancing filmmakers and films via inclusion into programming, and have an agenda-setting effect within the discourse of film culture, acting as media events (de Valck, 2007). However, due to the limited availability of comprehensive programming data that would extend national jurisdictions, the international film festival circuit has been rarely studied using data-driven methods (but cf. Loist, 2017-2022).

In this context, our work builds on our access to data from Cinando, an online platform operated by Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes. The platform services film festivals and their associated markets by facilitating global film industry operations, including rights sales and investments, as well as business-to-business VOD viewing. It relies on a large, relational database listing information on professionals, companies, festivals, and associated films. Based on this, we study the bipartite network of film–festival participation during 2014-2020. Over the six-year period, 64,607 films are traced across 33,542 festival events, amounting to a total of 159,156 film–festival observations.

We examine the creation of public value in the hierarchy of international film festivals, ranging from top-tier events such as Cannes to specialized festivals like Sheffield DocFest. Adopting a cultural data analytics approach, we combine the perspectives and methods of film and creative industry studies, data science, network analysis, and innovation and media economics. We elucidate the structure of the international film festival participation network, including clusters and overlaps in programming, to distinguish specific groups of festivals in terms of the public value added to the broader film industry, as well as their roles in the careers of filmmakers from specific origins and the life cycles of films produced on certain budget levels.

Conference website: https://necs.org/