Lately I’ve been becoming more and more aware of the power of competitions. Especially thinking about it in the context of digitalization and globalization, where some see potential for democratic rule, others see popularity rule, resulting in trends which increasingly follow the lowest common denominators (of violence and sex, or kittens); and increasingly simplify information made visually appealing. In an increasingly competitive context where time is perceived as less available in order to succeed/survive, the power of simplification and instant gratification is obvious.
While the media and the market bank on that, it that does not mean we’re all stupid. This is where international competitions come in and divert market forces (channeling Chopard, L’Oréal, HP, Renault, and Akamai, for example, in the case of Cannes), to bring to our attention what they would have otherwise likely kept obscured. This being said, I had never paid much attention to the festival myself, but I do recognize their logo and have found their sub-prizes selection quite reliable so far. One of these sub-prizes is “Un Certain Regard” (A certain look/outlook), which promotes relatively young directors who present daring narratives. An opinion piece on Aljazeera English was written about it by Richard Falk, (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/02/uncovering-occupied-palestine-20142136833212442.html), whether he would have seen it himself anyway, as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, is another question, but the fact that he is writing about a movie that won a Cannes Festival prize and not just a random movie he likes gives his op-ed legitimacy.
I think that this puts an optimistic twist to our discussions about the relation between social power’s link with economic power, which often circle back to the Hollywood quasi-monopoly, despite authors like Van Ham periodically reminding us about the growing importance of Nollywood and Bollywood.