Persisting with film criticism in an Internet age is tough – much like running a DVD and video rental business, really, which is my other line of work… With the advent of the listicle, click-bait news articles and synopsis style reviews, long form film analysis has been relegated to something far too close to a hobby for my liking.
While financial remuneration is all too often attached to publishing puff pieces and generating sound bites (we all have bills to pay), there are still reasons to persist.
My personal journey with film, as both a critic and someone who’s worked in the industry under various guises over the year, has been tumultuous.
To be clear, I love film. What I don’t love, however, is institutionalised sexism, racism, homophobia, capitalist propaganda and the insidious dissemination of other ideologically dubious issues. But that’s also why I persist.
Being a critic, for me, means calling out these agendas and championing the films that offer something else. It’s also about appreciating great works of art.
Film is visual, aural, haptic, phenomenological, philosophical, political, polemic and ideological. It’s also a reflection of how I understand and make sense of the world.
Though I like to joke that I was raised by a television, I did sort of grow up in front of a camera and a screen. Later, it was the combination of a suburban video store and a rep cinema that shaped and directed my passion for film. When I started out as a film critic, I was wide-eyed and determined. Some years later, the description is still apt, only I might be wide-eyed in a different way.
Though I spend hours of almost every day calling out misogyny and quite possibly overusing the term heteronormativity, I never waver in my conviction that there’s a genuine need for good quality film criticism. Even more so when so many lament its demise; the rise of the clickable commentary only serves to re-affirm my belief that there’s value and need for in depth analysis.
Bristol is rich in film culture, from traditional theatrical exhibition to community start-ups. And we need a rich pool of criticism to go with it. The Bristol Film Critics Circle is a small collective – at the time of writing there are just eight of us. But our voices are loud and disparate. We each have our own outlets and projects besides, but we do hope to create a conversation, here.
It’s not just listicles that we intend to hang up, like so many dirty towels strewn across the Internet. We speak, write, create and curate. Welcome to the conversation.
By Tara Judah