How to Survive as a Film Critic

This year saw the sixth edition of the EFA’s networking activity A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY for young film critics & journalists. The idea, as always, was to learn from each other through the exchange of experience and to build border-crossing personal networks. Organised in co-operation  with the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival Wroclaw, the meeting again took place at Fregata in Zagórze Śląskie, Lower Silesia.

A group of ten participants spent the days watching films and discussing them, cinema and cinephilia in general, and life as a film journalist. In between there was cooking and eating together, and networking in a charming old guest house by the Bystrzyckie lake. Expert for this edition was the Austrian critic Magdalena Miedl, free-lancer for SKIP, Wienerin, Red Bulletin, Salzburger Nachrichten et al.

After an introduction circle on Saturday night, the screening programme kicked off on Sunday with 78/52, an analysis of the shower scene in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. The Swiss director Alexandre O. Philippe joined the group for an intense and passionate debate before lunch. Next was opera-inspired KÉKSZAKÁLLÚ by Gastón Solnicki from Argentina, followed by a discussion about film criticism as such and what it means to filmmakers. This included not only the film’s director but also his colleagues Hadas Ben Aroya from Israel and João Pedro Rodrigues from Portugal. Hadas’s debut film PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT ME closed the screening schedule for the day and was followed by a group picture and a big BBQ dinner.

 

After breakfast on Monday, the group watched João’s THE ORNITHOLOGIST while the director went on a bird-watching walk around the lake before joining for another discussion circle about nature, inspiration and criticism. The final film was Michel Lipkes’s sinister black&white drama STRANGE BUT TRUE from Mexico, followed by a lively conversation about political and social reality and the role art can play.  

The group was composed of ten people from eight different countries: Andra Petrescu (Romania), Edoardo Becattini (Italy), Franziska Bechtold (Austria), Hugo Emmerzael (the Netherlands), Karl Leontin Beger (Germany), Patrycja Mucha (Poland), Piotr Czerkawski (Poland), Samina Jakobsen (Denmark), Sebastian Smolinski (Poland) and Tiago J. Silva (Portugal).

 

As a former participant said: "It is not only a weekend of thought provoking discussion of the past, present, and future of film criticism. First and foremost, it provides a unique encounter of like-minded and future friends from all over Europe."

The project was organized by the European Film Academy and New Horizons Association with the support of the Polish Film Institute, the local cultural institutes and the Krzysztof Mętrak competition for young film critics.