How do you make the perfect critic-proof movie?
Fill it with movie critics.
Boston Phoenix critic and prof Gerald Peary‘s long-awaited — at least by critics — doc “For The Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism” will have its world preem at Austin’s SXSW on March 16.
Hatched almost a decade ago over lunch with veteran Canuck doc-maker Ron Mann , the project saw Peary interviewing notable crix Roger Ebert, A.O. Scott, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Kenneth Turan et al at fests, work and home throughout 2001.
But Peary’s American citizenship made it impossible for then-exec producer Mann to raise further funding in Canada. So Peary sat on the footage for six years, finally nailing completion cash after sending a “love letter” to colleagues and friends, securing a LEF Foundation grant and a Boston benefactor.
For the final, no-budget guerilla-style shoot, Peary and producer Amy Gellar grabbed critics for interviews in a small room provided by Cannes organizers a few years ago.
What began as an homage to critics’ influence evolved into a doc about the demise of crix at major publications. It parallels the proliferation of web opinion that has helped turn traditional film criticism into “a profession under siege,” according to Peary.
“The film has an urgency now. Mainstream films don’t need critics,” says Peary. “My film is a plea for people to appreciate the importance of writers who can articulate about less mainstream film.”