An art film is usually a serious independent film, that is marketed at a specific type, or a niche market, rather than a mass market audience. It is aimed serious and artistic work. They are often experimental and generally made for artful reasons, rather than appealing to mass media for profit.
Art films are not like mainstream Hollywood films with many different qualities like, the thoughts and expressiveness of the director, social realism, or the dreams and motivation of the character.
Art films are usually presented at special theaters called art house theaters and at film festivals. Because art films are targeted at small niche-market audiences, they rarely obtain the financial circumstances that would allow such big budgets like wide released films. They are almost always produced on a much smaller budget, with usually lesser known actors and actresses and focus on the different ideas and looking for different techniques.
These films go against popular blockbusters, which are aimed more at daily life and pure entertainment. They have small investment costs and only need the appeal of a small percentage of mainstream audiences to be financially feasible.
Is the art film genre dying? Not necessarily thanks to FilmStruck, The Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies. But who knows if those platforms will eventually be phased out. While TCM comes with most cable and satellite television services, FilmStruck does not and do you really want to pay up to $10.99 a month or buy expensive Criterion DVDs just watch these films? I don’t, unless I were rich. Sure, you can find some cheap Criterion DVDs used online, but does having that seal on the cover make them even cooler or more collectible? Some come with special features, which is nice if you care about that.
Art films are often obscure, strange and disturbing. Some people get or would be confused with these. Yes, I agree the plot in some can be quite hard to follow, because it either doesn’t explain it in the beginning, goes from scene to scene, or is so bizarre and/or disturbing. There are non film scholars that can follow any movie’s plot and can explain them well.
Art films are getting more recognition these days from critics, festivals, award ceremonies and trailers as well as Pay-Per-View, streaming platforms and Redbox. But the latest Star Wars film will always out rule David Lynch’s latest production. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, because there will always be an audience for both genres.
Many people when hearing the term “art film,” they shove them away, not giving them a chance. They would rather watch the newest bad Adam Sandler movie, which to each their own. People often want nothing to do these kind of films, but there are those that love the obscure.
Early art film directors have influenced other directors. Woody Allen quoted both Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini in his film Manhattan. He also stated his film Stardust Memories was inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2. Although not a director but a singer, Lana Del Rey has stated that Fellini is one of her inspirations.
Avant garde films used to pretty overlooked years ago. It wasn’t until directors like Bergman, Fellini, Jean Luc Godard and Francoise Trouffaut started winning awards, that they really gained an audience. Nowadays we have televised award shows streaming platforms and The Criterion Collection to get more fans. Sure the genre will never be as popular as big blockbuster genres. To me if you want to do anything in the film industry or film related, you have to learn to appreciate all genres (except pornos of course), including art films.
These directors go beyond want is considered “normal” in the film world. They use different types of techniques, music and often times cameras. Director Wes Anderson stated he used to hate art and independent films until he watched Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. You get far in this industry only working with one or two categories of movies. A true movie loves movies of types, such as myself. I learned to love the obscure, the sometimes disturbing and just plain weird. So are art films an acquired taste? I’d say yes and that is okay, because art is art and there will always be fans.