It’s been a year since the first edition of the Critics Academy, a workshop co-hosted by Indiewire and the Film Society Society of Lincoln Center for aspiring film critics that takes place during the New York Film Festival, and it’s starting to look like we’re on to something.
The Critics Academy was first launched in 2012 as an initiative during the Locarno Film Festival, where we brought together an international selection of diverse young writers to cover one of the oldest festivals in the world. After hosting the Locarno workshop for the second year in a row, we’re more confident than ever that its combination of candid discussions with working critics and other members of the industry — paired with experience covering cinema in a deadline-driven environment — provides the right kind of fuel for the professionally-minded critic to begin sketching out a career plan.
The NYFF Critics Academy extends this opportunity to New York-based critics during one of the most prestigious film events on the calendar. Today, we’re excited as ever to announce the finalists for the second edition.
New York tends to attract determined cinephiles, so it’s no surprise that local interest in the NYFF Critics Academy continues to expand. This year, we received 100 applications, twice as many as last year, and selected eight of them. Tough decisions were made, but we’re thrilled with the caliber of writing skills possessed by our finalists and hope you will be, too. In the coming weeks, they will contribute coverage of NYFF’s program to our Criticwire blog as well as the Film Society’s website — while also taking advantage of opportunities to pitch the editors of Film Comment — so expect to see their bylines a lot in the near future.
This year’s NYFF is a meaty one: From high profile fall season releases like opening night selection “Captain Phillips” and Spike Jonze’s “Her” to a historic Jean-Luc Godard retrospective and new works from masters like Catherine Breillat and Frederick Wiseman, virtually every form of cinematic expression is represented in the current lineup. It’s exactly that sort of density that demands more critical voices to sift through it all.
The Critics Academy is one of two educational initiatives set to take place during NYFF, the other being the Artists Academy for young filmmakers. Just as that program shepherds along filmmakers who show tremendous promise, the Critics Academy aims to provide context and pointers for critics who are already showing great potential in their writing, sensibilities and professional motivation.
Film culture demands a constant dialogue about cinema that extends beyond the fragmentary exchanges of Twitter and actually has an impact on the status of the medium. The Critics Academy is designed to reinforce that goal with a series of roundtable discussions and boots-to-the-ground festival experience. In that regard, its impact isn’t limited to the event where it takes place: Our participants are encouraged to keep up the momentum of the workshop once NYFF concludes.
So get used to the names of the eight people selected for the second annual NYFF Critics Academy, because if this workshop does what it’s supposed to do, you won’t stop hearing from them anytime soon:
Mark E. Lukenbill
Stay tuned to Criticwire next week for more information about this year’s finalists.