The State of Things was a one day talent development programme, which reflected on the state of things and things to come for film criticism and cinephilia in the UK and beyond.
It took place in July at Watershed in Bristol as part of their Cinema Rediscovered programme. Laura Hancock is an independant film critic from Derbyshire, here she reports back on the day:
When beginning any career path, it is important to undergo training and receive encouragement from your peers and professionals in your field. In the creative industries, this guidance and training can be scarce. I am an aspiring film critic and the resources for training and development are few and far between, not to mention very competitive and if you are successful, they can be expensive. When these opportunities arise it can often be difficult to attend due to the costs of travelling to specific locations. These opportunities are invaluable, and the support from Film Hubs are changing the way young people can become involved in and nurtured in the arts by supporting individuals attendance to events that will shape and inform their careers.
Through the support of Film Hub North West Central, I was recently able to attend an event at Watershed’s Cinema Rediscovered – a film festival dedicated to repertory cinema, and to the history of cinema. The event was called The State of Things: Film Critics’ Day, and was a workshop that invited talent to get a chance to network, experience the expertise of critics working in a range of mediums and to survey and interrogate the current state of film criticism. Speakers included video essayist Charlie Lyne, author Sophie Mayer (Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema), film critic Michael Pattison (MUBI Notebook), arts and cultural writer Zahra Dalilah (gal-dem and BFI Film Academy alumnus and writer Reba Martin (RIFE). Topics and conversations covered journalism and start-ups, long and short form writing, video essays and podcast and broadcast media.
The day highlighted that film criticism is as diverse as it has ever been, but still has a long way to go. More platforms for writers and critics from different perspectives means voices can be heard, but it is still tricky to get that first piece published, or to get paid for that work. The day also highlighted that no one sort of film criticism is right. With increasing technology that is easily accessible critics have a chance to diversify the medium in which they become a critic – whether it be video essays, a podcast or a long form piece of writing, each form of criticism has its distinct advantages and purposes.
The event also allowed me to meet with likeminded people with the same passion and ambitions. I could also learn from them as well as the speakers, which I think is just as important. Dialogue and asking questions was encouraged. This was a safe space where critics could raise their voice and discuss their work with others. Without the support from Film Hub North West Central I probably would not have been able to attend this type of event which is crucial in encouraging discussion and learning about a profession I want to enter. I have come away from the event better equipped to develop my voice and work as a critic.
Laura attended the day with a bursary from Film Hub NWC – for more details see here.