President of the French Association of arthouse cinemas
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“Film criticism is important. Although its role is sometimes minimised, creators, distributors, producers and cinema directors clearly eagerly await and read reviews.
Film criticism plays an essential role in an increasingly binary distribution system: with cinemas on the one hand and digital platforms on the other, run by programmers who work through algorithms driven by commercial interests. This sterile consumerist mindset prevents the emergence of new ways of telling stories and of new creators. It goes against the work of critics and of all those who promote films that aren’t obviously financially lucrative. Algorithms fix a sort of calculated determinism that has no concern for any merits a film might have in terms of educational and informative value, or developing its audience’s tastes or sensibilities.
We must stand up for film criticism that values films and endeavours to promote new directors. This is what sets apart arthouse cinema from more mainstream cinema. It’s important to remember that it was from the moment film criticism as we know it was born that filmmaking was able to grow as an art, first in the 1920s and then in the 1950s as film clubs and arthouse cinemas flourished. Bear in mind that the AFCAE (French association for arthouse cinemas) was not only set up by cinema directors in 1955 but also by film critics that shared the same artistic vision and high standards for cinema.
The films and filmmakers selected by the Semaine de la Critique tend by and large to find their audiences in France’s arthouse cinemas. What the Semaine de la Critique offers us is the chance to discover new filmmakers whose work is highly original. So many creators are currently left unrepresented by the current system. On digital platforms and increasingly in cinemas, the dominating culture is Anglo-Saxon. We must open them up to rebalance this ecosystem and this is the work of the Semaine de la Critique and the AFCAE: to find and promote other modes and types of filmmaking and other visions of the world.”
As told to Nathalie Chifflet