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Cannes Heads: Twitter Reviews Are Killing Film Criticism

Cannes Heads: Twitter Reviews Are Killing Film Criticism

In separate interviews, Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Frémaux and festival president Pierre Lescure have both expressed extreme displeasure with critics posting instant reactions to social media. The interviews were first reported in English by Screen Daily.

Fréumaux, speaking to Le Film Français, said: 

“The attitude of certain newspapers who were, in the past, supporters of the Festival is stunning. The degree of fantasy that Cannes arouses does not authorize them to write no matter what. Pierre Lescure, who comes from journalism, was shocked. On the Internet, an article is judged by the number of clicks — civilization progresses! It was the first real ‘Twitter festival’ where everyone decided to say whatever happened to pass through their heads. This created a permanent race against the clock between journalists and these amateur neo-critics. The practice of criticism is about formulating and putting down a thought, and can’t be summarized in 140 characters before the credits have stopped. In Cannes, I am not sure the social networks do any good for the general spirit.”

Lescure, speaking earlier this week to La Croix, said:

“Everything is accelerating. The instantaneity leads to hasty, excessive, definitive judgements. The critics are tweeting during screenings. The nature and the function of the profession are changing. By acting like this, I’m not sure the profession is doing itself any good.”

It’s only fair to note that, banning red carpet selfies notwithstanding, the festival courts and benefits from social media buzz, and that most of the critics who post insta-reactions online go on to write longer, more considered reviews. It can be alarming, watching from several thousand miles away, how quickly a movie like Gus Vant Sant’s “Sea of Trees” — which Frémaux himself admits was shown “too early” due to the need to synch up with star Matthew McConaughey’s schedule — goes from one of Cannes most-anticipated titles to a dead duck. But it’s not clear that greater consideration would have done that film any good; the longer reviews, when they came, were no kinder than the initial flurry of tweets. Festival fever can just as easily lead to films being overrated as unfairly slammed, as baffled non-Sundance critics trying to understand how “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” became one of the festival’s most buzzed-about films are finding out now. Is Twitter good or bad for film criticism? A better question might be what role it has to play, and what’s left for a film once Twitter is done with it.

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