A Small Frustration With Film Festivals

I don’t follow the movie industry that closely, but I do tend to pay attention to major film festival buzz. The films that get talked about at Cannes, Sundance et al tend to be the films I want to see.

However, I’ve recently noticed a minor frustration with this process. I’ll read about a film getting positive reviews at a festival, and then try to find its trailer online. Often, I can’t. I remember this was the case with Teeth at Sundance last year. This year I have the same complaint about the new Neil Young tour documentary, CSNY Déjà Vu. It debuted at this year’s Sundance, I read an interview with Neil in Rolling Stone but can’t check out the trailer.

This is one of those rare times when I really want to look at an ad for a product, and I can’t. To use some marketingese, I’m ready to begin a relationship with this movie, but I can’t. More importantly, I’d be happy to post it to this website, favourite it on YouTube and so forth, but I can’t.

I assume there are some baroque politics around distribution deals and marketing control that prevents the trailer from debuting when the movie does, but it’s pretty silly. Movie marketers may think they’re creating desire by delaying the trailer, but I find I just forget about these movies. A trailer would, I think, help me remember. I can certainly picture moments from the Teeth trailer which I watched when it eventually came out).


  1. The same thing happens with Canadian music. Radio is required to fill their playlist with 35% of the stuff, and on the rare occasion one of the songs sticks out and people like it, they can’t buy it.

    It’s easy to record a song and ship it to radio, but to produce and sell the cd’s takes a larger infrastructure that indies can’t handle.

    I don’t know if it’s any better in this internet age, it’s been a while since anyone called to ask about cancon.

  2. It’s neither baroque nor silly. 🙂 It’s just that most films that play at film festivals don’t even have trailers yet.
    Independent films like “Teeth” usually don’t have theatrical distribution deals in place when they screen at film festivals, and in fact festival buzz is their best bet of picking up said theatrical distribution, which is what happened with “Teeth”, which was the most talked-about film at Sundance (cf. the “buzz” that you pay attention to) and which was picked up by Roadside Attractions. It’s then up to the distributor to pin down a release date for the film, and create campaign, of which the trailer, and these things take time.

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