Archive for May, 2009

Film Criticism in the Internet Age

This is a response to Reid Gershbein’s call for contributions to a roundtable titled, “Film Criticism: Evolution and Importance In the Digital Age,” part of The Two Week Film Collective project, in which Reid has invited filmmakers to make a film in two weeks, with the participating films to be screened in several cities in the United States and abroad.  Because these are issues I’ve explored briefly in my forthcoming book, Reinventing Cinema, I couldn’t resist revisiting them here.

In his call for participants in the “Two Week Film Collective,” Reid Gershbein also asks for volunteers to review the films and to participate in a series of panels, the first, fittingly enough, focused on “Film Criticism: Evolution and Importance In the Digital Age” (itself an implicit response to Alejandro Adams’ recent roundtable on self-distribution).  The question of the role of film criticism has been widely debated over the last several years as new modes of production and distribution have emerged, challenging, even upending, the traditional independent film distribution models that have operated for the last several decades.  At the same time, the traditional sites where indie filmmakers could get reviews, alternative weeklies and even major dailies, have been cutting back on the number of reviewers, a concession to plummeting advertising revenue and a struggling economy.  Instead we witness the proliferation of unaffiliated or semi-affiliated, blog-based critics (or, in many cases, reviewers), who can help to establish word-of-mouth about a new film.  So what happens to the role of the film critic here?  This is a somewhat tentative, roundabout attempt to answer that question.

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