Cinema can certainly use a few more professional black film critics – especially those who are well-respected, and are nationally (and even globally) read. There aren’t exactly a lot of them (emphasis on the words "respected" and "professional," as in, this is what they do for a living, and you’d find them in the same club as legends like Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris).
Other than names of veterans like Armond White and Elvis Mitchell, who else can you name? I’d throw in Wesley Morris (the youngest of the bunch), Lisa Kennedy and Omar Moore. There are others, many up-and-comers whose work I’m sure will be featured far more prominently than they are currently, and who will assume the slots that will eventually be vacated by the *aging* vets above, in years to come (some of them have even written for this blog).
All that to say, if you’re an aspiring film critic, here’s a program that you should definitely consider applying for entry into. Think of it as a Sundance Labs-esque initiative but for film critics.
What you need know about the program, as well as how to apply, follow via press release below.:
The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Comment magazine, and Indiewire announced today a call for entries for the 2015 New York Film Festival Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring New York–based film critics that takes place during the festival (September 25 – October 11).
The Critics Academy—the initiative by the Film Society, Film Comment, and Indiewire to assist aspiring film critics with the process of kickstarting their careers—was first launched at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, and a local version was then produced that fall during the 2012 New York Film Festival. Later this month, the finalists will be announced for the next Locarno Critics Academy, whose participants will cover the 68th edition of the festival from August 5-15.
The fourth edition of the New York–based Critics Academy is scheduled to coincide with the upcoming NYFF, and will begin accepting applications today. Details for applicants can be found below.
For this year’s NYFF, six participants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide variety of international cinema while dealing with the practical challenges of covering a festival at the epicenter of New York’s film culture. The participants will cover the festival with reviews of films in the selection, articles on sidebar events, in-depth reflections on the various program sections, or interviews with the festival’s guests.
The 2015 NYFF Critics Academy will begin several days prior to the start of the festival with roundtable discussions continuing over the course of the following five days (participants will also have the option of attending press screenings earlier in the month). Participants will then work on covering the festival once it begins, with guidance from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Eugene Hernandez, Indiewire’s Deputy Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn, Film Comment magazine Senior Editor Nicolas Rapold, and Film Comment Digital Editor Violet Lucca. The workshop will officially conclude on October 11, the last day of the festival.
In a very short amount of time, the multifaceted nature of the Critics Academy has allowed the workshop approach to have a direct impact on the way budding critics think about the opportunities to cover films around the world. In advance of this year’s NYFF, critics will engage in candid discussions with working critics, distributors, filmmakers, and others who come into direct contact with their work to bring a greater context to its ongoing relevance. They will then provide written work for Indiewire’s Criticwire blog (a part of their Criticwire Network) and Film Comment magazine, the official publication of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and other outlets to be arranged closer to the event.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center continues to innovate with its multiple ways of positively affecting contemporary film culture—from festivals to first-run theaters and various educational initiatives, including this one. The Critics Academy initiative is a natural fit for a partnership between the Film Society, Film Comment, and Indiewire, as it works toward assuring that New York’s vibrant film culture continues to benefit from talented critics willing to take advantage of the city’s cinematic riches.
The application process begins today; the deadline is Friday, July 31.
Accepted critics will be notified by August 10. Emphasis will be placed on a diversity of voices, backgrounds, and cinematic interests.
Requirements: Applicants must have completed a minimum of three years of undergraduate study or have no more than two years of experience creating critical and/or journalistic content about movies. They must demonstrate an interest in film criticism and/or film journalism as well as the ability to speak and write fluently in English. They must also live in New York City or the greater New York area.
Applications must include the following:
• CV: A basic one-page résumé
• Five writing samples about film. These can take the form of film reviews, scholarly papers, blog posts, college newspaper clips, podcasts, or any other work that you think demonstrates your skills.
• A 500-word statement of intent. Tell us about your background and why you would make an ideal candidate for the Critics Academy. Make sure to note any particular interests (genres, national cinemas, etc.). Passion, strong writing skills, and a deep knowledge of film history matter more than overall professional experience.
Send applications to: CRITICSACADEMY@FILMLINC.COM