On Sunday, I participated in a panel discussion at the Locarno Film Festival called "What are Bloggers Changing," a regrettable title since participating bloggers were actually in the minority. I was joined by Chicago freelancer Gabe Klinger, an astute colleague whose erudite thoughts on the state of critical voices in the Internet age brought the headiest perspective to the table. To my left were the outsiders: Axl Waldau, of the German movie-related social networking site Moviepilot, and Fox Searchlight's Germany-based product manager, Miriam Beier. Axl and Miriam are fine people with some sharp ideas about how to do what they do, but there's no question that they play a very different role in this conversation than those of us less interested in writing consumer guides than engaging in a dialogue about movies as art.
At any rate, it was a relatively long, somewhat meandering conversion, but Screen International's Mike Goodrich did a nice job guiding the conversation in a number of directions that left few stones unturned. German film journalist Rudiger Suchsland (whose business card identifies him as a "cultural activist") sat in the front row and asked some sharp questions toward the end. The ubiquitous Bob Koehler made an appearance as well, after I cited his "Iron Cross" debacle. You can watch the whole thing here (select "What are Bloggers Changing"); those averse to panel discussions in general may not have the patience for it, but I do guarantee that the conversational flow stood out from the usual circle-jerk nature of these things.