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Locarno Film Festival Hosts Aspiring Film Critics

Locarno Critics Academy
Courtesy of Massimo Pedrazzini/Locarno Film Festival

For the eighth year in a row, the Locarno Film Festival is playing host to 12 aspiring film critics from around the world as part of the festival’s annual Critics Academy initiative.

Featuring participants from Switzerland, Pakistan, the Netherlands, Mexico, the U.S, the U.K., Nigeria and Czech Republic, the latest edition of the Locarno Critics Academy gives budding journalists the chance to interact with professional critics, programmers and filmmakers in attendance at Locarno.

The two-week long workshop encompasses the various aspects of the work of film critics — from pitching to composing articles to negotiating the world of industry, and finally to adapting their prose style to the working methods of different editors.

As part of the initiative, a collaboration between the Locarno festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (FOC), the Swiss Association of Film Journalists, ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts), Swissinfo, Cineman and Cinemany, the participants will have the opportunity to cover the festival for such well-known publications as IndieWire, MUBI Notebook and Film Comment, producing work that reflects the diversity of approach necessary to survive as a working film critic today.

This will be the first year where Swissinfo will act as one of the official partner publications for the program — affording the young critics the chance to experiment with visual criticism and video dispatches from the heart of the Swiss city.

Each day, the group meets for workshops lead by film critic Christopher Small in which they will reflect on the challenges as well as the opportunities ahead for young members of the profession. These meetings will take the form of roundtable discussions with prominent guests, such as Film Comment’s Nicolas Rapold, Viennale’s Eva Sangiorgi and Mubi’s Daniel Kasman.

As this is the first year for Locarno’s new 200-person initiative for young creatives — Base Camp — the bonds that the Critics Academy workshop forges between these diverse participants and the 72-year-old festival are more essential than ever.

The Locarno festival runs from Aug. 7-17.

[Editor’s note: In the next week Variety will publish a selection of articles by some of the critics attending the academy. Those taking part will be Sadia Khatri, Sofie Cato Maas, Laura Davis, Linda Keršnerová, Wilfred Okiche, Salvador Amores and Sean Nam.]