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Meet the Locarno Critics Academy, Class of 2014

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire August 6, 2014 at 3:45PM

The 10 up-and-coming critics will be filing copy from the Locarno Film Festival for the next 10 days.
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Locarno

Now in its third year, the Locarno Critics Academy brings together exciting new critical voices with established writers, filmmakers, and other key figures in the field. Over the next 10 days, these writers, led by Indiewire's Eric Kohn and the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Eugene Hernandez, will be honing their talents as they write for Film Comment, the Locarno Film Festival's Pardolive, and this site, but before you sample their writing — which will focus on topics ranging from found-footage movies to the Bechdel test — let's get to know the writers themselves. The Locarno Critics Academy is organized in collaboration with the American film website Indiewire, the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (FOC), the Swiss Association of Film Journalists (SVFJ), the Centre for Publishing in the Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and cineman.ch.

The Locarno Critics Academy Class of 2014

Name: 

Pascaline Sordet

Age: 26

Twitter handle/personal website: @PascalineSordet / www.pascalinesordet.com

Home: Lausanne, Switzerland

Cinematic area of expertise: Filmmaking process and Swiss Cinema.

Best movie you've seen in 2014: "Dallas Buyers Club", but "Under the Skin" is a close second. As for documentary, the swiss film "L'Escale".

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "Cure: The Life of Another" by Andrea Staka.

Favorite book about film: "A Third Face" by Samuel Fuller.

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because... it is obviously a wonderful opportunity to watch films, talk and write about them, and to meet expericenced journalists to learn from. 

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism?

I studied both filmmaking and journalism and spent a bit of time on film sets, which gives me knowledge about how a film is created, from the inside. Other than that, I want to give honest and open insight into the film industry to the readers.


Name:
Martina Viviani

Age: 23

Twitter handle: @VivianMartini

Home: Zurich

Cinematic area of expertise: I can't really say I have an area of expertise, but there are some directors I particularly like whose work I know quite well. In this sense, the first names that I can think of are Fellini and Bergman amongst the "classics" and maybe Cronenberg and Haneke amongst the contemporaries. But there are others.

Best movie you've seen in 2014: "Palo Alto"

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: There are some movies in the retrospective which I really hope to be able to see on the big screen. Usually what I most look forward to at the Locarno film festival is discovering movies and directors I had never heard of before.

Favorite book about film: I mostly read monographs about directors. I think Sidney Lumet's "Making Movies" is a good text to get a smattering of what the technical steps for making films are actually like.

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ... I think it's a great opportunity to learn first hand how it is like to work as a film critic. And I absolutely like the idea of learning this in the context of a film festival.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism? 

When considering cinema, the "art" factor and the "market" factor are two distinct things in my mind. For me the most important side of a movie is the artistic one, it's the one that usually makes me love it or hate it, but when reviewing a movie I always try to take both things into consideration: the entertainment/economic potential and the artistic/content richness. 


Name: Walter Rohrbach 

Age: 34

Home: Berne

Cinematic area of expertise: My special interest and area of expertise are topics with a historical, sociological or political background. I like films which offer new insights and new perspectives on the world.

The best movie you've seen in 2014: "Boyhood" by Richard Linklater

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: There is not one special film. Instead I'm looking forward to the offered diversity of the program and to watching films from different genres and countries which cover different aspects. These are the fascinating opportunities of cinema where it is possible to take the viewer to different places. 

Favorite book about film: "The Film Book: A Complete Guide to the World of Film" by Ronald Bergan, "The Wes Anderson Collection" by Matt Zoller Seitz.

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because … it is a fantastic festival, a great opportunity to learn more about film reviews and a lot of fun to participate in the Locarno Critics Academy. I'm looking forward to steeping into the world of films for ten days and dealing with interesting and fascinating topics around films.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism?

My background as a scientist offers a different perspective on the films and influences the way I'm writing reviews. For example there are two documentaries that portray Switzerland: one is a very positive and one is a satirical documentation. Both films show a totally different picture of Swiss people and what is going on in Switzerland. Writing a review of the two films I would discuss how different the results can be by when only some aspects of the same object are portrayed and how the personal position of the documentary filmmaker offers a totally different picture. 


Name: Tina Poglajen

Age: 28

Home: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Cinematic area of expertise: Gender and film, feminist film criticism

The best movie you've seen in 2014: "Incompresa"

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "Lucy"

Favorite book about film: Pam Cook's "The Cinema Story" is pretty remarkable in the range of topics it covers and at the same time, its thoroughness. For more specific texts, I'm a big fan of everything from the earliest feminist film criticism essays by Mulvey or Johnston to the screenwriters' bible, McKee's "Story."

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ... I think it's an amazing opportunity to write about an A-category film festival at a level I normally wouldn't have access to. And of course, to have some of the best mentoring possible.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism?

Well, unique is perhaps not the right word, but I believe cinema to be the most socially influential of all arts which makes its critical examination absolutely necessary. So, I try to question everything that may seem self-evident or "natural".

Name: Julian Ross

Age: 26

Twitter handle: @rossjulian

Home: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Cinematic area of expertise: Experimental film, Japanese cinema, Expanded cinema

The best movie you've seen in 2014: Dutch experimental animator Maarten Visser's film "Oblique" (1980). This film, shown along with many other restorations of Visser's work by the Eye Film Institute at the 9th Orphan Film Symposium, was an unexpected revelation and I felt the works deserve to be considered as key titles in the history of animation. You can read my report on the Symposium for Desistfilm here and watch the film online here.

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "Horse Money" by Pedro Costa

Favorite book about film: Right now, "Between-the-Images" by Raymond Bellour. I'm also reading and enjoying "I Had Nowhere to Go" by Jonas Mekas but there's not much about film so far.

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ... I'm excited by the festival's commitment to explore new and retrospective works in a way that I rarely see at other international film festivals. I hope the Critics Academy will provide me with an opportunity to interconnect with others who share my passion.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism? 

A desire to explore the relationship between film and other arts. I recently wrote an essay on Japanese experimental filmmaker Takahiko Iimura's expanded cinema from the 1960s for the online platform POST (see here).


Name: Neil Bahadur

Age: 23

Twitter handle/personal website: @NigelBahadur, nbahadur.tumblr.com

Home: Vancouver, Canada

Cinematic area of expertise: I first loved movies through watching silent films as a kid, so if there's any specific area, it's that. But what interests me the most is a movie that can give us what seemingly should be the most classical, conventional, overdone, cheesiest thing in the entire world and make it become completely radical and new, as though you're seeing it for the first time. The way you see things perhaps as a baby, you see a rock, or a cloud, and you don't think, "oh, that's a rock/a cloud/etc." Instead your response is, "what is this?"

The best movie you've seen in 2014: "Welcome to New York" (Abel Ferrara) or "Pompeii" (Paul W.S. Anderson)

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "Horse Money" (Pedro Costa), "Kommunisten" (Jean-Marie Straub)

Favorite book about film: "John Ford: The Man and His Films" by Tag Gallagher

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ... Firstly, I understand the work I've produced is unique, so what I would like to do (and what I think the Academy is a great help in) is not continue producing the same kind of work I've been doing, but rather continue developing and refining my ability. And really, there's no better way to access the most exciting of contemporary cinema than Locarno, and I think this years line-up confirms that. 

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism? 

I think my goal is that we reach a point where we can discuss films not through words, but through images. I, as I assume many others would, would like to make films one day as well, (I went to school for Film Production, not Film Studies) and criticism certainly assists in that I've probably learnt more about movies in writing about them than going to school, but one thing I got from being in a Film Production program was that one can write three or four paragraphs, and the idea you're going for still won't be clear, but one can juxtapose two shots together, and that same idea can be clear immediately. I'd also like to do written work, (of course it's necessary for movies that can only be seen in a theatre) but here's something that might express that perspective.

Name: Andrei Șendrea

Age: 30

Twitter handle/personal website: Inhale

Home: Bucharest, Romania

Cinematic area of expertise: Romanian New Wave, Political & Propaganda Cinema

The best movie you've seen in 2014: The Missing Picture, directed by Rithy Panh

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: There are more movies on this list than I'll probably get around to see, but the one I really don't want to miss is – I'm half ashamed and half glad that I kept postponing watching it for so long – Les Quatre Cents Coups on the huge screen in Piazza Grande with 7999 other viewers around me.

Favorite book about film: Nothing in particular comes to mind, but most likely it was written by André Bazin.

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because: Locarno Film Festival + Indiewire

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism? 

I have a background in political studies, I try to draw on that as often as I can in order to write about a medium that is becoming more and more political.


Name: Michael Guarneri

Age: 25

Home:
Italy

Cinematic area of expertise:
long-take aesthetics and radical running times

The best movie you've seen in 2014: "
Jauja" by Lisandro Alonso

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "
Mula sa kung ano ang noon" by Lav Diaz and "Horse Money" by Pedro Costa (ex aequo)
Favorite book about film: "Infinite Jest" by D.F. Wallace and "Son of Celluloid" by Clive Barker

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ...:
I have some money to smuggle across the border in order not to pay Italian taxes. Nah, just kidding. I am taking part because I want to feel the pulse of contemporary cinema (the lineup is simply awesome!) and contemporary film criticism.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism?
 
I refuse to believe that films are "just films", and I try to put them in context by annoying filmmakers with way too many questions. See my conversations with Lav DiazWang Bing, Ben Russell and Raya Martin.

Name: Mallory Andrews

Age:
28

Twitter handle: @mallory_andrews

Home: Toronto, Canada

Cinematic area of expertise: Documentary, performance and bodies on film, animation

The best movie you've seen in 2014: "Only Lovers Left Alive"

Movie you're most looking forward to at Locarno: "Clouds of Sils Maria"

Favorite book about film: "Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture" by Vivian Sobchack

I'm taking part in the Locarno Critics Academy because ...: It's an invaluable opportunity, and I learn best by jumping in with both feet.

What unique perspective do you bring to the world of film criticism? 

I like to find ways of talking about a film that isn't limited to understanding its "meaning." For example, I looked at "Holy Motors" within the context of digital acting.

This article is related to: Locarno International Film Festival, Critics Academy, Locarno 2014


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