At any given time, in any city, big or small, there is probably a film festival taking place. They certainly can’t all be on the scale of TIFF or boast the luxury of Cannes, but interest in the most specific of genres and styles has merged with opportunity, allowing for the explosive exposure of cinema.
Toronto in particular has boasted film fests featuring movies from all around the world. There is one for Japanese cinema, a festival for Irish cinema, and one for southeast Asia. We’ve a horror and sci-fi fest in addition to a recently announced festival dedicated to the true crime genre. We’ve Planet in Focus, dealing with environmental issues, and Inside Out, which focuses on LGBTQ stories.
Not only do cinephiles get a chance to see films that may not be easily accessible or released by a studio, but filmmakers now have more outlets from which to get funding, while also finding those companies and sponsors that can help them find an audience.
There is a particularly curious recent arrival in the film festival world — one that isn’t quite a festival, at least by any standard definition, and one that appears on the surface to be both great for art and great for business. Those two worlds don’t always get along, but nonetheless, this spring saw the successful completion of the Moët Moment Film Festival. Indeed, that would be Moët as in Moët & Chandon.
Moët Moment Film Festival
For the third straight year, the Moët Moment Film Festival has asked budding and promising filmmakers to submit 30- to 60-second short entries for its annual contest. The winner receives a grant of $25,000 USD, which is a pretty sizeable sum for those aspiring auteurs. This year, of over 500 entries submitted, 12 were selected to be played at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened by a panel of all-female judges that included Laura Dern and Billie Lourd. Of those films, two were selected as winners in a tie, and filmmakers Aubrey Smyth and Angelita Mendoza were each awarded the prize money. Smyth’s film tells the story of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, while Mendoza’s depicts immigrants on the fringes of society who are chasing their dreams.
Art and Business
There were few restrictions or demands for entries. It is noted that, despite entrants having to be 21 years of age or older (a nod to the legal drinking age in the US), it was not required for the brand or product to be mentioned in the film. (However, it is in fact featured in the films of both winners.)
This is not often the case for big name companies helping out films. There are plenty of examples of product placement in movies, and depending on your opinion, it either takes you out of the cinematic experience or is easily overlooked in favour of the important details. It’s an interesting debate, but in this specific case, we definitely have a company with a lot of money — one that really has nothing to do with film at all — putting its name on a contest and generously giving away a prize.
Of course, this is also an advertising opportunity for the brand, as noted by their promotional verbiage: “Moët has been sharing the magic of champagne with the world for a quarter of a century. Every glass overflows with the House’s hallmark values of history, generosity, savoir-faire, success, boldness and elegance — values still at the heart of its global appeal.”
Interestingly, the Moët Moment Film Festival only exists within another film festival; you can’t get to Moët unless you first go through Tribeca. That being said, you can now watch the winners and runners up on the event’s website.
And while it is a festival in name, Moët functions more so as a competition. This year’s theme was “celebration,” allowing artists and filmmakers to seek inspiration and interpret that word in their own way.
Perhaps this was the perfect theme for a festival bearing the Moët name; the champagne, like the art it sponsored, serves to celebrate the finer and more pivotal moments in life.