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Meet the Locarno Critics Academy Class of 2013

Meet the Locarno Critics Academy Class of 2013

For the second year running, Indiewire, in conjunction with the Swiss Association of Film Journalists and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, as well as new partner FRED Radio, is holding a Critics Academy at the Locarno Film Festival, giving nine young film writers a chance to cover one of the world’s great festivals. They hail from locales as varied as Galway and Mumbai and bring with them a host of new and interesting perspectives. Next week, you’ll be able to read the fruits of their labor right here on Criticwire, including a report from a master class with 2001: A Space Odyssey effects guru (and Silent Running director) Douglas Trumbull. 

But first, let’s meet the critics. As Matt Singer did last year, I’ve asked them all a few questions about who they are and where they come from. (You can also follow them on on Twitter via this list.) As Eric Kohn said in his announcement, “Modern film culture would be nothing without them; the Critics Academy is an insurance policy to make sure things stay that way.”

Name: Katelyn Trott

Age: 23 

Home: Fullerton, CA

Twitter handle: @katemich

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Media Convergence 

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: Much Ado About Nothing 

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Vijay and I 

Favorite Writing About Film: Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… I want to experience a film festival as a working professional and learn the challenges that a career as a critic presents. 

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

I see a film as a gateway for fans to interact with a world they would otherwise not have access to; an introduction of sorts to a new culture made up of likeminded people. After seeing a film I ask “What community does this offer me?” I tend to favor blockbuster movies and cult films because they are generally most responsive in supplying their fans with access points surrounding the main content (the film). Henry Jenkins refers to these access points as “paratexts.” When viewing a new film I like to imagine what kind of paratexts can be created. Does this film make people want to travel to the filmed location? Will it inspire a video game? What kind of fan-fiction will emerge from the original story?

Name: Adriana Floridia

Age: 20

Home: Toronto, Canada

Twitter handle/blog: @adriflorida and freshfromthetheatre.tumblr.com

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Independent Cinema 

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013:
Before Midnight, the perfect third installment to my favourite films of all time.

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Gare du Nord

Favorite Writing About Film: I don’t have a particular favourite piece, but I love reading film magazines such as Film Comment and Filmmaker. I also am currently reading Sidney Lumet’s novel Making Movies, which is great so far.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… It is an incredible opportunity to learn more as a film critic and a journalist. I’m so excited to gain more experience, especially in the beautiful town of Locarno.

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

The style I take in my writing is an audience’s perspective. I am a regular person who is deeply passionate about film, but I do not claim to know any more or be any better than any other average audience member when it comes to watching a film. I review from an emotional standpoint. The reason I love watching films so much is because of how they emotionally affect me and the ways in which I can connect with them. I hope that everyone can share a similar experience, and I try to enlighten this in my reviews. A review of mine that I feel particularly does that is my piece on the 2011 Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar.

Name: Ingrid Raison

Age: 25

Home: Paris

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Melodrama of the 50’s, Film Noir movies and the filmography of Jacques Tati.

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: A Touch of Sin by Jia Zhangke, La Vie d’Adele by Abdellatif Kechiche and Dabba (The Lunchbox) by Ritesh Batra.

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Actually, I am looking forward to seeing a lot of movies, not just one in particular, from the early films of George Cukor to Thomas Imbach’s new film, Mary Queen of Scots. 

Favorite Writing About Film: Movie Love in the Fifties by James Harvey, and the sharp and articulated film reviews of French “ciné-fils” Serge Daney.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… I want to be confronted with the realities of Film Criticism and develop my own take on it. Besides, it is a unique opportunity for me to sharpen my views on contemporary cinema.  I am very attracted by the richness and diversity of Locarno Film Festival’s programming, which brings together new talents (Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez) and renowned film directors (Werner Herzog).

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

Throughout my courses on Film Noir, I was lead to analyze two types of femme fatale: Annie in Gun Crazy (1950) and Vera in Detour (1945). Set apart because of their different outlooks, they are both bound to die for their affinity with death legitimates their own. 

Name: James Berclaz-Lewis

Age: 23

Home: Geneva, Switzerland

Twitter handle: @swissbearclaw

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Michael Haneke, ethics of violence. 

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: Before Midnight

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition. No question.

Favorite Writing About Film: Catherine Wheatley’s Michael Haneke’s Cinema combines two of my greatest passions: the oeuvre of one of the world’s most potent cinematic minds and philosophy, here specifically focused on the ethical reflexions of Immanuel Kant.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… It appears to me that any discussion on contemporary criticism reveals the need to redefine exactly what criticism is, hurried by the ideology of “everyone’s a critic.” The output of the members of last year’s Locarno Critics Academy betrayed the need for versatile film writers rather than mere evaluative critics, an evolution that I consider healthy. That and watching a handful of films on one of the most unique screens in the world. 

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

Luckily for English-speaking audiences, I will be sparing them the need to crack out a French-English dictionary. A couple of weeks back, a fortunate coincidence had Only God Forgives opening in Geneva’s big multiplexes and Funny Games playing as part of a retrospective of Haneke’s early German-language output, allowing me to write a comparative article on the ethical considerations of representing violence on the silver screen. Perhaps not my most inspired work, but certainly the domain I feel most comfortable navigating. 

Name: Laya Maheshwari

Age: 20

Home: Mumbai, India

Twitter handle/blog: @lazygarfield, and I write at http://iwatchiread.com

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Not really an expert on anything yet, but I do seek out Bollywood, summer blockbusters and coming-of-age dramas. 

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: The Conjuring

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: This is like a Sophie’s Choice multiplied by 100. I must say the chance of seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen with Masterclasses by Douglas Trumbull

 in the same week sounds too good to be true.

Favorite Writing About Film: My favorite film-related book is Making Movies by Sidney Lumet, although I recently bought Pictures at a Revolution] by Mark Harris and can’t wait to burn through it.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because…: Someone in the selection committee made a mistake, most probably. I’m not complaining and nor I am pointing it out (till it’s too late, like right now).

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? would like to highlight the reasons behind the whimsies and cinema. I want to set films in a sociological, anthropological and political context and explore what they reveal about the society they are catering to and the mindset of the people they’re made by. Talking about the latter, I wrote an article titled “Hugo is the love letter The Artist never was” and I feel it delves into the perspectives of both films in a not-terrible way.

Name: Michael Pattison

Age: 25

Home: Gateshead, England

Twitter handle/blog: @m_pattison (idfilm.net)

Area of Cinematic Expertise: I completed an MA dissertation last year on Patrick Keiller’s Robinson trilogy and how it might exemplify the seemingly inherent contradictions of the essay film. I like to know at least something about everything, and don’t like it when this isn’t the case — which is often.

Best Film You’ve Seen in 2013: Before You Know It

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Exhibition

Favorite Writing About Film: The book that never left my side when I began to watch films seriously was Halliwell’s Film Guide. All those lovely little concrete details such as production year, country of origin, credits lists… that’s where the romance began.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… I wrote in my application that I would be approaching the Critics Academy “as a means by which to consolidate my infectious energy for film culture and to strengthen my pursuit of paid opinionship”. 

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

Instinctively or otherwise, I look for ways in which a film might reinforce or resist those everyday systemic tensions by which people are socially and/or politically marginalised, due to their class, gender, race, age and so on. I enjoyed writing this Spring Breakers review because it felt as easy to write as the film seemed to make.

Name: Tara Karajica 

Age: 27

Home: Belgrade, Serbia

Twitter handle/blog: @TheFilmProspect (blog: www.thefilmprospector.wordpress.com

Area of Cinematic Expertise: Historical films, Film and History

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: Before Midnight

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: Mary Queen of Scots

Favorite Writing About Film: Film After Film by J. Hoberman and “The Historical Film as Real History” by Robert A. Rosenstone (published in FilmHistoria Online, Vol. V, No.1 (1995), pp. 5-23). 

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because… For the inspiring people, the captivating films, the unique experience and the exciting atmosphere! The film festival circuit is the professional setting in which I wish to evolve and covering the Locarno Film Festival is the perfect way to pursue that self-appointed goal.

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

I am fascinated by the connection between Film and History. However, we all know that historical films trouble and disturb both historians and the greater fraction of spectators and unfortunately attract a niche audience. Consequently, I am, along with other fellow historians, an advocate of “historiophoty”, or as Hayden White would put it, “the representation of history and our thought about it in visual images and filmic discourse” and the way film is, on its own terms, a way of exploring the past and what it actually means to us. I wish to propagate historical films through my writings and make the readers and the audience aware of the value of historical films as equally good and serious – and not always boring — entertainment and film as a historical document. This is, therefore, the unique perspective I would very much like to bring to the world of film criticism. 

Name: Ronan Doyle

Age: 22

Home: Galway, Ireland

Twitter handle/blog: Tweets at @baronronan; reviews at Next Projection.

Area of Cinematic Expertise: “Expertise” is a word I would deploy with considerable caution when it comes to my cinematic knowledge. My chief areas of interest, however, include realism and particularly its subversion (by the likes of Haneke and Angelopoulos); slow cinema; horror, in all its gruesome shapes and sizes; and, because I have to make up for my utter indifference to national sporting efforts somehow, Irish cinema.

Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2013: Not until the agonising end-of-year top ten wrangling comes about could I give any definitive answer there. Before Midnight, More Than Honey, The Act of Killing, The Wall, and Upstream Color are probably the major players.

Movie You’re Most Looking Forward to in Locarno: If I’m to be entirely honest, it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was instrumental in making me a film fan in the first place and so — especially on the big screen — takes precedence over all else. Of the new films, though, Corneliu Porumboiu’s As Evening Falls on Bucharest, or Metabolism stands out particularly. His debut 12:08 East of Bucharest remains my favourite of Romanian cinema’s well-celebrated recent output, and Police, Adjective was indicative of even further great things to come.

Favorite Writing About Film: I’ve spent enough hours poring over them to know I should probably opt for Bazin or Pudovkin here, but honestly I’m not sure anything taught me more (or perhaps just more enjoyably) than Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies. And that’s not to suggest they’re dissimilar texts, incidentally: Lumet’s may be a far more casual tone, but there’s just as much formal and theoretical depth to what he has to say. Also, many more complaints about teamsters.

I’m taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because…of some strange clerical error, I assume. Despite having been informed of my selection almost two months ago, I still struggle to believe that I deserve an opportunity like this. Which, to actually answer the question, is because of just how incredible an opportunity it is. I mean really, what aspiring critic wouldn’t want the chance to cover a premiere festival for the critics’ blog? Not for a second do I buy into the notion that criticism is dying, but it certainly seems to take talent, perseverance, and a miracle to make a career in this field. It’s to others to judge me on the first two; I can pretty safely say that this constitutes my miracle.

What unique perspective would you like to bring to the world of criticism? 

I believe that movies matter. I really believe that, not least of all because I have to believe it, or else accept that the vast majority of my waking life is given over to something meaningless. I believe it with an intensity that allows me to make writing about movies my dream and to not feel silly for it, and I believe it as much in the case of cheap schlock and big blockbusters as in that of art house cinema. Hence, the anniversary edition of my weekly Netflix column: firstly because its twenty-one capsule reviews of incredibly varied movies (hopefully) attest that scope; secondly because of the lengthy introduction which, penned in the wake of Roger Ebert’s death and tinged with thoughts of his influence on the aforesaid belief, is as good an answer to this question as I can offer.

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