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Meet the Members of the New York Film Festival Critics Academy

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by Matt Singer
September 26, 2012 10:20 AM
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The 50th New York Film Festival starts Friday, with the world premiere of Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." And when it does, Indiewire and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will kick off their second Critics Academy, with eight aspiring writers from around the New York area. Throughout the two week festival, they'll be particiating in a series of workshops and mentor sessions with working critics, journalists, and maybe even some filmmakers, and they'll also provide coverage of the New York Film Festival for FilmLinc.com and Criticwire.

That means you're going to see a lot of the following eight bylines on the site in the very near future. Before you do, get acquainted with them and some of their work by checking out their responses to our little Critics Academy Questionnaire. Then be sure to keep following Criticwire throughout the New York Film Festival, which runs through October 14th.

Name: Forrest Cardamenis
Age: 19
Twitter Handle: @FCardamenis
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: European auteurs, with a growing interest in the cinema of less recognized countries.
Favorite Working Film Director: In terms of output in the past decade or so, Abbas Kiarostami or Michael Haneke. Though Scorsese is my favorite working director.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: "Alps." It was 2011 technically, but most cities didn't get it until this year.
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Anything that lets me write about movies and still have a good living.
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: Why would I not? It's a chance to work with professionals who are living my dream job, to get some experience doing just that, to meet people with similar interests, and to watch a bunch of movies. There are countless reasons.
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: Oh God...no pressure, right? As far as reviews go, I think my best is probably on Abbas Kiarostami's "Shirin," which I find to be underappreciated, so I'll go with that.

Name: Caitlin Hughes
Age: 26 
Twitter Handle: C_B_Hughes
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: They are really disparate. My filmic interests include: film noir, Cary Grant-based screwball comedies, David Lynch (pre-"Inland Empire"), and Sirk melodrama. I also have an unabashed love for the film "Point Break."
Favorite Working Film Director: Currently, William Friedkin. "Killer Joe" was such a raw, visceral film that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen -- nor did I want to. I will smile knowingly every time I think of "K Fry C."
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: Going off the McConaughey connection of my previous response, I think Soderbergh's 'Magic Mike' was an extremely well-executed film, but its overall quality somewhat got lost in its "titillation factor."
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: I would love to be a staff writer somewhere! I would also be interested in curating films for an arthouse theater and voicing my film opinions in that sense. 
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: I have worked in various facets of the film industry, and I have yet to find my true "niche" within it. I love to write, I love movies, and I think that film criticism is such an amazing platform to voice your opinions without sucking up to a given film company. It's also an amazing time for film criticism, given the many emerging blogs out there.
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: Nothing published yet, dudes!

Name: Alec Kubas-Meyer
Age: 20
Twitter Handle: @AlecJKM
Your Cinematic Area of [Relative] Expertise: Korean cinema, exploitation films.
Favorite Working Film Director: Darren Aronofsky.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: "Safe House."
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: I don't know. 
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: It sounded like an amazing opportunity. I wanted to meet and work with new people and get my own writing out there in front of people who it otherwise wouldn't get to. 
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: I'm pretty proud of my review of "Detention," I guess. 

Name: Peter Labuza
Age: 23
Twitter Handle: @labuzamovies
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: Film noir and the Hollywood New Wave.
Favorite Working Film Director: Abbas Kiarostami.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" is by a long shot the most audaciously conceived film of the year. The middling response to it baffles me.
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Film Historian/Repertory Programmer.
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: This is my 5th year attending the festival and it remains one of the most essential pinnacles of not only American film culture, but my own understanding of the current scope of world cinema. I'm hoping my participation in the Critics Academy will provide me with a better knowledge of not only where cinema is heading, but also film criticism, programming, and preservation.
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: Inspired by the work of Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee (who have been indispensable mentors to me), I'm quite proud of this video essay I did on Kiarostami's "Certified Copy."

Name: Blair McClendon
Age: 21
Twitter Handle: @GoodbootsFilm
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: France, 1960s (particularly early Godard) and Romanian New Wave.
Favorite Working Film Director: Steve McQueen, Radu Muntean, or Cristian Mungiu.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: "Bullhead" (Technically 2011, but I believe it had its first run in the US in 2012).
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Anywhere that allows me to write about, talk about, and live with the cinema. 
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: It would be a great opportunity not only to increase the range of the discussion I would like to have about film, but also to be exposed to the life of a critic at one of the busiest times of the year. It is one thing to see a movie on the screen and then respond to it, it's another to be plunged into the world of a film festival.
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: "You Can Be Crazy or Dead." This was part of a series on "Blow-Up" and "Blow Out."

Name: Max Nelson
Age: 19
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: Big, stately films from aging directors looking back over their life and work.
Favorite Working Film Director: Claire Denis.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: Ermanno Olmi’s "The Cardboard Village."
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Exactly what I do now. Getting to write about whatever strikes me, editing and maintaining my own journal (even getting to draw cover art!), interviewing whoever’s nice enough to give me their email when I accost them after screenings -- I couldn’t ask for anything more. That it’s theoretically possible to get paid for this sort of thing seems too good to be true.
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: The selfish answer is that it’s great exposure, both for my own writing and for my journal (double exposure!). But, more importantly, it’s an opportunity to learn more about a profession I love, within the context of an institution I revere, from people I look up to. It's an opportunity for real self-improvement that also happens to be a practical godsend -- and how often do chances like that come along?
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: My favorite among my own pieces hasn’t been published yet – it’s a reflection on "Late Spring" that uses Ozu’s attitude towards place, loss, and memory as a way of looking at the decline of the modern-day video store. Aside from that, I have a soft spot for the first piece of serious criticism I ever wrote –- just under a year ago, actually. I’m not embarrassed by it yet! It’s a study of grace in the films of Maurice Pialat, especially "La Gueule Ouverte" and "Sous le Soleil de Satan," and you can read it over at Double Exposure

Name: Corey O'Connell
Twitter Handle: @koreyo19
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: Analyzing the product and process of adaptation across modes of engagement and across cultures.
Favorite Working Film Director: David Fincher.
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: ND/NF selection "Gimme the Loot."
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Staff writer for a film magazine or periodical... print journalism is not dead!
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: I wanted to meet and work with people who share a passion for film - and who want to share that passion with as many people as possible.
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: I started out mainstream. I like to think of the mainstream as a potential source of Pop Art. Besides, everyone has to start somewhere!

Name: Fariha Roísín
Age: The ripe age of 22.
Twitter Handle: @Mofafafa
Your Cinematic Area of Expertise: Indie/Arthouse/Foreign Films.
Favorite Working Film Director: Wong Kar-wai and maybe David Lynch for his persona of being, you know, David Lynch. But then again, Wes Anderson has been creatively fulfilling me since '96, so it's hard to say. I'm gonna cheat and go with all three. 
The Most Underrated Movie of 2012: "Café de Flore" (technically it was released in Montreal in late '11 but in '12 in the States) otherwise my default is "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap," for substance over style. Cheers to Ice T. I'm not even being sarcastic.
Your Dream Job in the World of Film Criticism: Writing for the Times and having a whole lot of swag. Just knowing that people are actually reading my writing and appreciating it would suffice... Well, on some level. 
I Wanted to Participate in the NYFF Critics Academy Because: I breathe film. Nothing (other than literature) moves me, compels me, and resonates with me more than film. It seems fitting for me pursue a field that exhilarates me so much and what better way to do this than to be in the Critics Academy!
The Best Article or Review You've Ever Written: It's actually about Marina Abramovic, whose film "The Artist Is Present," came out a few months ago. Amazing woman, amazing artist.

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