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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Anne T. Ciecko

Second Advisor

Martin F. Norden

Third Advisor

Jonathan R. Wynn

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies


The functions festivals fulfill within contemporary film culture extend beyond the exhibition and circulation of completed films; many festivals around the world have gradually attained the role of a film producer in the past two decades. This dissertation investigates the relationship between a major film festival and a European program that provides financial support for film production in developing countries. With a particular focus on the World Cinema Fund, associated with the Berlin International Film Festival, this study traces the common stylistic and thematic preoccupations observed across a wide range of Latin American, African, and Southeast Asian films partially financed by European festival funds. Textual analyses of recent films that have celebrated their premieres in major festivals after benefitting from these initiatives bring to light a prevalence of narratives about hybrid identities and mobility between cultures, as well as an emphasis on highly ceremonial events and rituals with clear patterns of accepted behavior. Interviews with directors whose films are associated with the World Cinema Fund complement this analysis by offering a first-hand glimpse into the process of financing and realizing feature film projects under restrictive conditions. A major part of the analysis introduces quantitative data and statistical methods to the study of film festivals, testing for the impact of funding structures of films on their presence in festivals, and for the link between the reception of films on the festival circuit and their commercial prospects. This exploration of film festivals and related financial programs reveals that transnational funds based in Europe, instead of contributing to the sustained development of film production in the Global South through investments in infrastructure, prefer to engage in temporary, project-based transactions which ensure the continuous flow of films suitable for festival selection. When combined together, these findings contribute to a broader, multifaceted understanding of funds associated with film festivals, which offers a critical perspective on the hierarchical power dynamics that lie at the core of this practice.