A 60 year connection (60 years of building bridges)
Editorial from Nicolas Marcadé
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For 60 years, La Semaine de la Critique has served as a meeting place for critics and those that create, make, produce, distribute and sell films. It is here that the Semaine’s work is the most tangible: selecting and showing films. In that specific time and place, critics, creators and industry professionals are for once all looking in the same direction - instead of staring stonily at each other with a mix of defiance and fear like they do the rest of the time. What is film criticism for? Here, this old and too-oft rehashed question finds an answer: criticism is there to help us discover films, auteurs, languages and to support them, or rather “carry” them towards their audiences.
And yet, if that question can be answered so simply in the space of one week and a dozen or so films, why is it still such a touchy and complex issue to discuss the rest of the time?
Asking this question now after the long artificial coma the pandemic had plunged the film industry in surely makes sense. Now that the storm has (somewhat) passed, everyone across the sector is getting back into position. But what position is that exactly? Isn’t this a good opportunity to redefine those positions? In light of the recent upheaval, shouldn’t we try to reposition ourselves to work alongside each other a bit more, to get along a bit better?
Even so, anniversaries are always a good time for speeches and for telling each other things we probably wouldn’t the rest of the time, especially an anniversary such as this one, which is both a birthday and a wedding anniversary: 60 years of shared experiences between those who watch films and those who make them. A 60 year connection hinging on punctual events. All in all, a 60 year relationship.
And this is why paradoxically we’ve chosen to ask this question as an add-on to the 60 ans d’avenirs, a sort of guest book for this diamond wedding anniversary (I’m told this is the proper name for it…)
Instead of “What is film criticism for?” (more of a general essay title), we opted for a more specific question, which could have been “What is criticism for, to you?” and which became, after yet another round of zoom calls:
Does film criticism help make films?
This sort of portmanteau question is made up of many others: does criticism make one want to make films? Does criticism help us understand how films are made? Does criticism help films get made financially? Does criticism help one reflect on their own work and make progress in their career? etc.
This question isn’t about us critics seeking reassurance from our partners by asking them if they still like us, neither is it an attempt at couple’s therapy to clear the air through honest talk and copious weeping. It’s simply a matter of communicating, of talking to each other to find out a bit more about where we all stand.
Like in all relationship chats, we discuss desire, communication, ego, complementarity, the future, kids, unresolved matters and some great memories that have cemented things over the years… and in the end, we’ll still feel like we haven’t said everything.