Independent producer (Switzerland)

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Criticism is inseparable from creative work. Artistic freedom is intimately linked to the freedom to critique, the critique given by say friends, scripts doctors, journalists or audience members. The most important thing is that film criticism is independent and, even if not always well-meaning, that it is intelligent. The person critiquing has an ethical duty to respect, as although they can “make” a film, they can also “break” it.

What we can be sure of and celebrate is that when there’s criticism, there’s a film, a film that exists and that has people talking. And we make films so that they’re watched. It is the very possibility of discussing, giving opinions, criticizing (preferably after having watched it…) that makes a film. Without criticism, we’d be set to go back to a period of history darker than the cinemas themselves, when censorship replaced criticism.

I have two anecdotes: the first, when I used to write reviews and the second, when I was a producer.

Just over 20 years ago, I chose not to write a review of a film I hadn’t liked, telling myself that not writing about it was a statement in itself.

A few years ago, I was working on two films simultaneously. With one of them, we took part in all the “critics’ choice awards” out there, as well as the Golden Globes, and with the other, we only went to a number of festivals. Since that day, I remain even more convinced that criticism “makes” films. It’s one of the reasons professionals want their films to go to Cannes, because the world’s journalists are present.

But we mustn't forget that criticism can of course be positive and therefore “makes” the film, and without criticism the film wouldn’t exist...

Michel Merkt