When I worked at SXSW, I always grew tired of other festivals that gave what we were trying to do, a bad name. While regionally-based festivals like True/False, Atlanta, Sarasota, and Hamptons (among many others) try to do good work with good films, there was always something “off” about the Hollywood Film Festival. It sounded prestigious, and it always drew top A-list talent to the table. But all you ever heard about, was this one awards ceremony. No break-out discovery films, no worthwhile panel discussions. Just some awards ceremony with the name “Film Festival” attached. Anne Thompson tries to explain exactly what is up with the Hollywood Film Festival (which, this year, will host the likes of Hilary Swank and Robert DeNiro):
I am surprised by the film industry and the media’s continued willingness to give a free pass to entrepreneur Carlos de Abreu’s Hollywood Film Festival, a cannily constructed facade which honors stars, filmmakers and craftspeople and lines the pockets of de Abreu.
He’s created an awards show timed perfectly at the height of the awards season, which he presents inside the context of a film festival. While it is not considered to be a bonafide quality film fest curated by top programmers, like Telluride, Sundance or New York, and its premieres are often less than stellar, Hollywood players participate because it supports the award cause. It gives vying award season contenders yet another opportunity to grab attention. If de Abreu gives an award, why wouldn’t any self-respecting self-promoting player show up for their five minutes of PR?