In line with film as a cultural and economic commodity, film festivals also have numerous functions and far-reaching significance as a catalyst. Their position as promotion and distribution platform for film works and, increasingly as an independent part and veritable position not only of the exploitation chain, but of the entire value chain in the global media landscape, is proving essential.
At the same time, they are positioning themselves as a local cultural highlight or even a flagship project with international appeal. In this function, they also have considerable economic effects, not least in terms of their credentials vis-à-vis sponsors and other interest groups. In addition to their direct and indirect economic impact on the location (e.g. as local employees and clients, cf. Mertens: 2010), they are also major factors for enhancing local appeal and a positive image.
The phenomenon of the festival has thus evolved into a major „best seller“ in the tourism industry since, on the one hand, film festivals attract entirely new tourist groups to a location and, on the other, have great potential to encourage visitors to return.
Yet their value is not only economically driven. Rather, they offer cinema and culture enthusiasts one of the last bastions of access to current art house productions far beyond the blockbuster multiplex culture. They create social places of meeting and exchange in both urban and rural environments and make a decisive contribution to the formation of identity.
Film festivals are of great importance in the context of cultural education: In contrast to other genres and works, film is low-threshold, broadly effective, and a popular medium across all social strata, age groups, ethnicity and peoples. As a result, film festivals play a major role in promoting understanding beyond national boundaries, social cohesion in a multi-ethnic society, democratisation, knowledge transfer, as well as foreign language learning – and so much more.