Critics Wesley Morris (Grantland), Alison Willmore (BuzzFeed), Eric Kohn (Indiewire), A.A. Dowd (A.V. Club) and Keith Simanton (IMDb) gathered at Cannes’ American Pavilion for a panel moderated by the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips, and Criticwire has the complete video below. The discussion, as it always does, turns to the state of the film-critical profession, with Kohn vigorously rebutting the idea that critics’ influence has waned in the digital age. But much of it focuses on the festival experience itself, especially the hectic, rigorously hierarchical atmosphere on the Croisette. They share their positions on posting instant microreactions to social media, with Phillips pointing out that “Many people are on Twitter who three years ago would have been too good for it,” and Morris lamenting the way online discourse have dimmed the electricity that once crackled through the small huddles of critics that once formed after screenings: “Before Twitter,” he says, “you could probably have powered buildings with that energy.”
And yet, plenty of excitement remains, as evidenced by the crazed rush to get into Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep,” whose three-plus running time would in most circumstances send moviegoers scurrying in the opposite direction. (Phillips admits slipping past Cannes’ notoriously tough security guards to get into nearly full screening while a colleague was reading them the riot act.) But the excitement takes its toll as well: Morris describes a favorite festival pastime of swiveling around during a slow-moving screening to see which of his colleagues have nodded off, and more or less all of them admit to having copped a few Zs now and again. Thanks for cameraman David Malin for graciously providing the footage.