“Film criticism in crisis” seems to be a common and widespread phrase when the contemporary state of writing about cinema is discussed at festivals, panels, film schools and workshops all around the world. IndieLisboa joins this debate tomorrow (Saturday, 17:30, Cinema São Jorge) with an international panel of established film writers attending the festival.
A word or two on my colleague panelists: Vladan Petkovic comes from Serbia, contributes to several newspapers and magazines in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Screen International and Cineuropa.org webpage, works as a programmer and has as well some experience in producing. Demetrious Matheou is a British critic (Guardian, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sight and Sound film magazine) and is currently writing a book on contemporary South American cinema. Both Vladan and Demetrious are members of IndieLisboa’s FIPRESCI jury this year. Gabriel Klinger was born in Brazil but he lives and works in Chicago, as a film critic, teacher and curator. He has written for over twenty journals including De Filmkrant in Holland, Ekran in Slovenia, indieWIRE, Letras de cine in Spain, Undercurrent (FIPRESCI’s online journal). Portugal will be represented by André Dias, a PhD researcher (ambiguity in modern cinema, cinephilia and contemporary philosophy) programmer and author of the Portuguese-language blog on cinema and contemporary culture Ainda não começámos a pensar (‘We have yet to start thinking’).
Film criticism is an umbrella expression covering various forms and styles of writing about film: from capsule write-ups to theory pieces, essays, reviews, blogs … to name only a few of most common ‘genres’. The quartet of critics presented above is joining the IndieLisboa panel from different backgrounds and traditions of film criticism (daily newspapers, film magazines, trades, online film communities) and – what’s even more interesting – from different cultures with different cinema environments. Take this entry as an invitation to join the discussion! I get the impression this will be quite a lively event – as usually happens when critics get together at festivals – and I mean that in a productive way. Festivals have influenced the face of modern cinephilia and film criticism to a similar extent as the internet and digital technologies have done. International friendships and professional connections give you access to basically every title you want to see (albeit mostly on your home computer)… not to mention the exchange of ideas and proposals, and discoveries of great (new or old) filmmakers you couldn’t have heard of any other way – because their work had, for whatever reason, never crossed the borders of it’s country. Festivals also create communities, even if only for a week or for a couple of days. A feeling to be surrounded by a group of people with similar interests and passions, a feeling of belonging – which is an especially precious and rare state of mind in the current climate.
Back to tomorrow and to our topics of conversation: Do people still read film criticism? Have critics lost their authority? How to draw a line between professional film criticism and the outburst of opinions expressed about films and filmmakers to be found on the internet? When and how does online film criticism matter? What are its strengths in comparison to print? What new possibilities does it open in terms of understanding cinema and exploring film culture?
The role of the film critic, as we used to know it, is in the process of being utterly and irreversibly changed. It seems time to redefine it and connect it to modern times.
We hope to see you there – everyone is welcome: just to listen, or also to participate!