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Meet the Young Critics (VI)

Film Critic (Ronald Searle, 1952)

We asked the participants in the sixth edition of the Young Critics Workshop at Film Fest Gent three simple questions. Who are they? What is their favorite “cinephiliac” moment? And which three films are they most looking forward to at the festival? Below are their answers.

Visit photogénie from October 9 until 18 to follow the Young Critics’ exploits at Film Fest Gent!

Alonso Aguilar

I’m a critic, audiovisual producer and cultural journalist born in San José, Costa Rica. In high school I began writing about film and music on the Internet and have not stopped ever since. I’m the web editor for Krinégrafo: Cine y Crítica in Costa Rica, and have published work in La Nación (Costa Rica), Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine’s webpage, Revista Correspondencias (Mexico) and Mediapart (France). I was part of the Critic’s Lab of Costa Rica’s Festival Internacional de Cine in 2016 and 2017 and part of the Berlinale Talent Press at Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara 2018.

Cinephiliac Moment

My favorite moment in cinema happens during Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), when well into the runtime Delphine Seyrig’s Jeanne Dielman is shown peeling potatoes. With her distant look and absent minded cutting motion, the character’s whole melancholic universe is synthesized in that domestic chore. Anchored by Babette Mangold’s aseptic framing and Akerman’s reluctance to cut, the scene reconfigures an apparently trivial action into one of the most enthralling moments in film history.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

  • Liberté by Albert Serra
  • Monos by Alejandor Landes
  • Divino Amor by Gabriel Mascaro

Katrijn Bekers

I’m 19 years old and a passionate student at the University of Antwerp. I’ve just started my third bachelor year in theatre, film, literature and English. My love for film has exponentially grown over the last two years. Cinematic experiences at university, Cinea’s Zomerfilmcollege and a London & Film summer school at King’s College London have moulded me into a true cinephile. Honest, pure, touching and visually poetical films make me fall head over heels in love. More than once I find myself admiring a film’s photography without paying attention to its plot line.

Cinephiliac Moment

In Wong Kar-Wai’s poetic In the Mood for Love (2000), there’s a very beautiful slow motion scene in which Mrs Chan (Maggie Cheung) picks up her food downstairs. The way these shots of her going up and down the stairs are photographed is perfection to me. Shigeru Umebayashi’s mesmerizing score is delightfully foregrounded and exquisitely blends with the slow, swaying images. What struck me most in this scene is this one lamp hanging from the ceiling, gently moving back and forth, as if it is dancing on the seductive melody. This subtle yet brilliant movement intensifies the dreamlike quality of this incredibly elegant scene.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

It’s extremely difficult to only list three. However, I’m especially thrilled about Judy (Rupert Goold) because I’m writing my bachelor’s thesis this year on women biopics. Second, also Peter Van Goethem’s found footage film Night Has Come has caught my attention. I can’t wait to discover how he explores the borders between fact and fiction. And lastly, I’m looking forward to see Mati Diop’s praised feature film debut Atlantique. The melancholic photography by Claire Mathon particularly interests me.

Ben Flanagan

I am a London-based freelance critic and programmer specialising in Classic Hollywood and online cinema culture. I regularly contribute to Seventh Row, and have appeared in Little White Lies and Mubi Notebook.

Cinephiliac Moment

The two minute shot of Barbara Stanwyck stroking Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941) is special. They discuss their ideal mate as Fonda shudders with anxious pleasure and Stanwyck curls up on the couch, their lips millimeters from each other. Director Preston Sturges avoids quite breaking the production code while presenting their utter intimacy. The mates have already found one another.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables, Diao Yi’Nan’s The Wild Goose Lake, and catching up on Spanish cinema in the Classics strand (sorry to cheat!)

Ioanna Micha

My name is Ioanna Micha and I am a literature graduate from Greece. Other than my love of animals, I discovered my love of films around the age of 12, and have been using people’s taste in film to see if they’re cool ever since. Seeing that my fascination with cinema wasn’t just a phase, I’ve written for online publications, (mostly) rambling about binary thought, and have penned academic essays on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca (1997) etc. Overall, I aim to expand my understanding of cinema as art to improve my writing as a critic.

Cinephiliac Moment

About two years ago, I watched Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) for the first time. Being a literature graduate, I bet it’s no surprise that I’m fascinated by a film whose core theme is language and its role in our lives. By deconstructing our understanding of the very essence of space and time, the film’s premise is that language shapes our perception of reality. One of my favorite parts is the scene preceding our first contact with the extraterrestrial heptapods, in which Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) enters the alien spacecraft for the first time. After being elevated to a certain point by a scissor lift, one of the soldiers accompanying her throws a yellow light stick to pinpoint the spot all of them will have to reach after they jump. It’s not discernible from the very beginning, but we eventually come to the realization that this leap of faith leads to the ground’s reversal; what once was up has now become down and vice versa. Even if we’re not aware of it at this point, the message is clear: contact with these aliens will lead to our acknowledgement that our facts are only assumptions. Up and down, before and after are concepts created by humans to make sense of our lives. This connects with language in an obvious way. Human languages need some sort of linear structure; there is a beginning, middle and end, which is also indicative of how we perceive time. The heptapod’s language, however, is constructed by shapes that almost pile up on top of each other to eventually form some type of circle. The symbols, therefore, are a foreshadowing of the heptapod’s non-linear experience of time; the tool that Louise will eventually attain after she becomes truly acquainted with their language. With all of that in mind, I find Arrival to be a noteworthy film with many food-for-thought moments.

Top Three Anticipated FFG Films

  • And Then We Danced by Levan Akin
  • Instinct by Halina Reijn
  • The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers

Satya Hariharan

I’m a writer and filmmaker currently based in Brooklyn, NY. I’m particularly interested in non-fiction and hybrid works, especially those that eschew traditional narrative forms. My writing and short essayistic works seek to engage with the impacts of capitalism and colonialism on image production and consumption, the proliferation of images in contemporary media culture, and the representation of the poetic across forms of media. I completed my A.A. at Clark College in 2018, and will complete my B.A. in Media and Documentary Forms at The New School in May 2020. My work can be found at satyasai.xyz.

Cinephiliac Moment

The opening sequence of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (1983) was a revelatory moment for me. The film’s self-reflexivity and commentary on its own images completely changed the way I viewed the relationship between sound and image in film. Sans Soleil was a personal landmark for me because it fostered an incredibly strong interest in the ‘essay film’ form as well as the theoretical aspects behind what exactly it is that makes films ‘work’.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

I’m excited to see Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden, Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables, and Shengze Zhu’s Present.Perfect.