For the fifth year, IndieWire is co-hosting the Locarno Critics Academy, giving a group of talented up-and-coming critics a chance to help their role in the current climate for film criticism and journalism at the Locarno International Film Festival. A collaboration between the Locarno Film Festival, IndieWire and the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the support of Film Comment and the Swiss Alliance of Film Journalists, the Critics Academy finds participants engaging in a series of activities and then getting to work.
They will spend the first half of the festival, which begins today, in roundtable discussions with working critics and industry figures; beginning next week, they’ll write about films at this year’s festival, as well as topics ranging from television to digital media.
Before then, take a minute to get to know them, and find out what they’re looking forward to checking out. Keep up with their dispatches from this year’s festival here and follow them on Twitter.
Name: Ingrid Oliveira
Where You Live: Basel, Switzerland (originally from Aracaju, Brazil)
Twitter handle: @dindiolive
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: I would consider them more like ever-growing interests, with a strong emphasis on classic noir films, Latin American magical realism and a soft “guilty-pleasure” spot for revenge horror.
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: Cheating time! Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” left a long-lasting impression. Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” has a delicate look like few others. Karyn Kusama tried to drive us all crazy with “The Invitation.”
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: Not necessarily because it took home this year’s Palme d’Or, but Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake.” Loach continues to bring social realism forward in his work, question our notions, ideas of success and the role of the State, and I have nothing but utmost respect for it.
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) about Film or TV: Molly Haskell’s “From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies” particularly resonates with me, for pointing out turning points in society and how they have been interpreted by more mainstream films in their portrayal of women.
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: It is an unmatched and comprehensive experience for those who love watching movies and discussing them. I plan to establish myself in the area of film criticism and transform a passion and hobby into a professional career, and learning about this craft in such a plural environment. Plus, have you seen the views from Locarno? That can only help this process.
What Unique Perspective Would You Like to Bring to the World of Criticism? (Include Link): I find it impossible to discuss films without considering their overall impact and links to life and its sciences, be it human or natural sciences. I cannot see films as isolated events, they reflect and resonate with the world — both the current and former zeitgeist. Overall, I like my writings to make people question their assumptions and what they know, even if they fully disagree with my understanding of a story. One example is here.
Name: Kelley Dong
Where You Live: San Jose, California
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: Korean cinema, Asian-American cinema, and coming-of-age films.
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: Best first watch was “35 Shots of Rum” by Claire Denis. Most entertaining watch this year was “The Wailing” by Na Hong-jin.
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: “By the Time It Gets Dark” by Anocha Suwichakornpong and “I Had Nowhere to Go” by Douglas Gordon.
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) About Film or TV: I’m currently reading James Baldwin’s “The Devil Finds Work.” But the first piece of film writing that really impacted me was “Kim Ki-duk and the Cinema of Sensations” by Hyunjun Min.
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: I am used to reading concepts and theories about film criticism as an art form but would like to better understand its practical function within the film industry.
What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? I would like to be a writer and critic who is unafraid to challenge tradition in both content and form.
Name: Andrew Rogers
Where You Live: Los Angeles, California. Very near the Donut Time immortalized in “Tangerine” (recently shuttered, sadly).
Twitter handle: I’m on Twitter as @BigAnder, a silly handle chosen in high school that I will stubbornly retain as long as possible, and on Letterboxd under the username ander.
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: The filmographies of Krzysztof Kieślowski, John Carpenter, Leos Carax, Hal Hartley, and David Cronenberg.
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: My favorite new release of 2016 so far is “Everybody Wants Some!!,” but the best movie I’ve watched for the first time this year is “The Decline of Western Civilization Part III.”
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: “Paula,” directed by Christian Schwochow. I am unfamiliar with Schwochow’s work but the presence of Carla Juri, the spunky lead actress from “Wetlands,” is quite enough to lure me in. The latest film from Matías Piñeiro, the first feature from Caroline Deruas (wife and frequent co-writer of Philippe Garrel), and Douglas Gordon’s film about Jonas Mekas are all stiff competition.
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) About Film or TV: This is such a bedrock selection I worry it’s akin to declaring bread and butter one’s favorite food, but in my mind it’s the only choice: “The American Cinema” by Andrew Sarris.
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: I have loved discussing and reading about movies since I learned to work a VCR, but upon graduating college I couldn’t figure out how to find work in criticism and I drifted away from the pursuit. The Critics Academy offers a chance to put my passion into practice and secure a foothold in the profession, and I am excited to take advantage of the opportunity.
What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? In my writing I hope to convey a sense of openness. Whether achieving that openness necessitates a close analysis of form, consideration of historical and cultural context, submission to a visceral experience of spectatorship, or some combination of the above, I am always willing to try to meet a film on its level. I believe this comes across in my entry on Too Many Ways to Be No. 1, the 1997 Hong Kong crime film directed by Wai Ka-Fai and produced by Johnnie To.
Name: Annabel Brady-Brown
Where You Live: I split my time between my hometown, Melbourne, and Berlin.
Twitter handle (or blog if you have one): @annnabelbb
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: Auteur cinema, particularly the filmmakers featured in Fireflies – Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Claire Denis, Jia Zhangke, etc.
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: “The Sky Trembles And The Earth Is Afraid And The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers” by Ben Rivers, plus a shout-out to the all-out bonkers “Cosmos” by Andrzej Zulawksi.
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: Ben Rivers and Gabriel Abrantes’ “The Hunchback” looks typically wild and wonderful; Jonas Mekas’ “Walden” on the big screen will be a treat.
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) About Film or TV: Geoff Dyer’s “Zona”
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: I’m delighted to finally come to Locarno, whose programming has long championed the cinema I love most. The opportunity to deepen my understanding of the contemporary industry while prattling away to (and learning from) critics from around the world is a gift.
What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? As a writer and editor/publisher, I’m passionate about criticism that adopts experimental and literary non-fiction techniques, that pushes the boundaries of what criticism can be. For example, my piece about stalking Agnés Varda, or any issue of Fireflies.
Name: Lili Hering
Where You Live: Berlin, Germany
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: A little bit of Austrian cinema, a little bit of Turkish cinema, a little bit of Arab cinema. I am no expert in anything but interested in nearly everything — films that surprise or enthrall me, but shock, annoyance, anger are fine with me. Any reaction is better than no reaction.
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: “Toni Erdmann,” directed by Maren Ade
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: “Godless” by Ralitza Petrova, “Afterlov” by Stergios Paschos and “300 Miles” by Orwa al Mokdad. I do not know any of their films, so I guess I am really looking forward to discovering movies I might never have heard of otherwise.
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) About Film or TV: I liked reading classics and essays by Hito Steyerl and Harun Farocki. Recently I discovered the very beautiful Fireflies magazine, discussing selected filmmakers in their specific world.
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: This seems too obvious to answer, but here are a few reasons: the films, the people, the encounters, the program, the discussions, the workshops, the talks, the writing, learning, understanding, the discoveries, the insights, the weather, the Piazza, the parties, the lake and the food. The list might get even longer on the spot.
What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? The merging of various art forms as well as the development of new filmic modes over the past years are key elements to me when speaking about cinema and its future. Coming from the theater world and engaging with all kinds of arts and digital media culture, I am keen on perceiving film as an ever-changing conglomerate and its criticism as an indispensable platform for political, social, economical and artistic discourses.
Name: Fanta Sylla
Where You Live: France
Twitter handle (or blog if you have one): @littleglissant
Your Area of Cinematic Expertise: Black cinema, teen movies
The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2016: Noah Baumbach’s “Mistress America” and Cauleen Smith’s “Drylongso“ —which first came out in 1998 (everyone needs to check out Cauleen Smith’s work, it’s free to access on Vimeo!)
The Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Locarno: Axelle Ropert‘s “The Apple of My Eye”
Your Favorite Book (or Piece of Writing) About Film or TV: As a philosophy nerd I am really interested in the intersection of phenomenology and film, and I’ve been reading a lot about slapstick/comedy for a piece so I’d say Noel Carroll’s “Comedy Incarnate,” which conveniently blends all these things together.
I’m Taking Part in the Locarno Critics Academy Because…: I’ve always wanted to experience what is unique to film viewing in a festival. I’m happy that I’ll be able to practice criticism within a community of young writers and share, discuss and learn from other perspective and tastes.
What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? One of my favorite critics, François Bégaudeau, said that part of reviewing a film is imagining the film that could have been or that you wanted to see. I’m always thinking about that when I review a film, just because I think it’s one of the duties of film criticism to open up possibilities, to suggest that there can be more – without losing sight of the specific film I am analyzing. I guess it’s about using one’s imagination, it’s a fun exercise to do as well and also a practice for future filmmaking endeavors perhaps.
Poetry and philosophy are two of my principal interests and I always try to incorporate them in my writings as subtly as I can. One reason I think French film critics produce the best literature in the country is because they approach criticism as art, the piece is supposed to be an extension of the film and something that stands on its own. I like to think of myself as part of such tradition. I try at least!