Colatriano: Film festivals vital in deciding Oscar contenders

Colatriano discusses potential Oscar candidates and film festivals.

Chelsea Colatriano

Chelsea ColatrianoAwards season is upon us.

No, seriously. Every day is Oscars season. The day after the Oscars end, the new Oscar’s season begins. It’s a vicious cycle. And for us awards season junkies, the film festival junket are where the Oscars contenders rise out of the woodwork and make themselves known.

I want to make it clear that I do not measure the value of a movie in terms of its awards and accolades. Whenever I bring up a movie and someone shuts me down with, “The reviews were bad,” I usually go on a diatribe against reviews. I am a firm believer in watching a movie before judgments are made – except with the “50 Shades of Grey” movie. That can be an exception, right?

The Oscars are a grand spectacle used to celebrate an art form. But the journey to the Oscars starts with a single step. And that step is film festivals.

This is where the magic happens. This is when we separate the contenders from the pretenders. This is when I start planning my Oscars party.

Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, which ran from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 and Sept. 5 to Sept. 15 respectively, are early indicators of success.

Telluride Film Festival takes place in Telluride, Colo., and showcases both established and upcoming filmmakers. Anyone can submit films to the festival. This makes the filmmaker in me hopeful about my chances, so I’m just going to take this time to harp on that fact. The content shown at Telluride ranges from low-budget student film shorts to features by prolific directors. However, its program only features 25 shorts and 24 feature length films.

Stiff competition.

So, since I obviously have no reason to go other than being a sheer film buff, nor am I important in any way, shape or form, I have been eagerly awaiting the verdict about the films screened at Telluride from the comfort of my computer. And by “verdict,” I mean the names and synopses of films since I try not to create biases about films before I see them.

I have been living vicariously through the Internet in order to find out about what films I should look out for. What’s interesting about Telluride is that it does not release the program itinerary until the beginning of the festival.

After Telluride, many films travel to the Toronto International Film Festival for an even larger spectacle.

Toronto raises awareness about films on a larger scale than Telluride. It shows more than 300 films over the course of 10 days and attracts high profile guests.

Greg Kilday’s article in the Hollywood Reporter, “Toronto Aftermath: Did Too Many Awards Peak Too Early?” talks about the effectiveness of the film festival circuit.

“While a typical studio press junket costs about $250,000, taking advantage of the press that’s already in Toronto can be cost-effective. The fest itself provides the theaters; in some cases, studios split costs; and actors like ‘The Fifth Estate’s’ Daniel Bruhl, who also appears in ‘Rush,’ are available to talk up films back-to-back,” Kilday said in the article.

So, pretty much, it’s a cheap way to get one’s film a lot of publicity in a short amount of time. Festivals like Toronto are a haven for film journalists. So if a filmmaker brings their film to where the press congregates, they are sure to drum up publicity and sell movie tickets and DVDs upon its release.

It’s important to know about these festivals as an aspiring filmmaker. They are one of the best ways to make oneself known. I aspire to this level of achievement in my future career. Festivals like Telluride and Toronto in North America and Cannes Film Festival in France are important platforms to show case one’s work. Plus, following the festival circuit gives me a leg up on Oscar predictions for when my friends and I fill out our ballots. It’s like March Madness for film buffs.

Like I said before, I don’t judge a movie on its accolades, but come on, it’s so satisfying when you predict the winner, right? Don’t fret; –you’re all invited to my Oscar party.

Chelsea Colatriano can be reached at 

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