×

Locarno Critics Academy Welcomes Crop of Aspiring Writers

Aside from being a haven for cinephiles,  the Locarno Film Festival is serving as a classroom for nine aspiring film critics from seven different countries.

The second annual Critics Academy — a branch of the Locarno Summer Academy — allows entertainment journalists from across the globe  to engage with established critics and industry professionals, including filmmakers, distributors, and publicists. The critics, chosen through a strict application process, includes writers this year from India and Serbia.

The two-week long program is a collaboration between the fest, Indiewire, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (FOC), the Swiss Association of Film Journalists, and new partner FRED Radio.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire’s chief film critic who spearheaded the initiative, said the Academy is meant to teach critics how to create work that has “currency in the marketplace.”

“I’ve been thinking for a long time about how we can sort of combat that narrative that started when there were a number of layoffs — not just with film critics, but with journalists all over the world — that sort of created this perception that the profession was in decline,” Kohn said.

The group meets daily with Kohn and Eugene Hernandez, FSLC director of digital strategy and Indiewire co-founder, during the initiative’s first week to discuss the challenges facing the profession. They also participate in workshops and roundtable discussions with other critics, such as Variety’s Scott Foundas and Jay Weissberg, and Cinema Scope’s Mark Peranson.

Participants then file film reviews and write articles on festival events and guests during the program’s second week. The stories will be published in the festival’s daily newspaper and website, Pardo Live, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s site, and Indiewire’s Criticwire blog.

The program has kick-started several careers — three of last year’s eight participants are attending the fest this year as working journalists. According to Kohn, the Academy has also created a mutually beneficial relationship between festival organizers and critics.

“We actually found a way, which is good for the festival, but it’s also good for us, to generate more English-language coverage than they’ve ever had over the course of the festival that’s been around for 66 years,” he said.

The Locarno fest runs Aug. 7-17.

The initiative will be held next month for the second year at the New York Film Festival and next year for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival — funded by the Roger Ebert Scholarship for Film Criticism. Kohn said he would love to expand the program to other fests (especially the Vancouver, Los Angeles and American Film Institute festivals), if funding and partnerships permit.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content