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Meet the Young Critics (VIII)

Film Critic (Ronald Searle, 1952)

We asked the participants in the eighth 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.

Follow the Young Critics’ exploits at Film Fest Gent from October 13 until 23!

Hanne Schelstraete

I recently graduated in theatre and film studies at the University of Antwerp and am currently preparing a PhD-proposal on morality in the film theory of the École Schérer. In the meantime, I am finishing my Bachelor’s in philosophy, always seeking those precious points where philosophy and cinema approach each other. Encouraged by a previous Young Critics Workshop I attended (at the MOOOV Film Festival in 2019), I now work as a freelance film critic for Belgian film magazines such as Fantômas and Humbug.

Cinephiliac Moment

My cinephiliac flame started burning when, while watching Eric Rohmer’s Pauline à la plage, I realized that the colours in the painting hanging above Pauline’s bed corresponded to the recurring, dominant colours of the film itself. The shades of red and blue in Henri Matisse’s La Blouse romaine determined Rohmer’s colour pallet: subtly but remarkably, they recurred in the quickly changing costumes, the flowers in the garden, and even the food on the dinner table. Not according to any symbolic theory of colour, these vibrant colours contributed to Rohmer’s attempt to create an authentic experience of the beauty of reality as such. Such a simple and almost obvious observation made me understand that cinema is about so much more than exciting stories and likeable characters. Contemplating the image of a half-naked Pauline sleeping in her bed, with Matisse’s painting hanging on the wall, I came to understand that cinema is not an artistic island, but a vivid, rich and complex form of art—and that watching a film is not only about understanding it but mainly about loving it.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

 I am really looking forwards to Hang Sang-soo’s Introduction, Leos Carax’s Annette, and Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island.

Jovana Gjorgjiovska

As a psychologist and researcher by day, a film and theatre critic by night, I’m infinitely curious about the human psyche and continuously drawn toward critical thinking for a simple reason: just like a kaleidoscope, everything in life (and in art) depends on your perspective.

I started publishing my film and theatre reviews in 2012 and promptly became aware of the lack of mentorship opportunities in North Macedonia. This led me to co-found Gledaj.mkc.mk, the only online platform devoted to film and theatre criticism in the country, focused on mentoring young writers.

Cinephiliac Moment

Whenever I’m asked about my “favorite” something (it being anything, from a country to a type of food), my default answer is “I don’t believe in the concept of having favorites”. Sometimes I follow this up with a philosophical explanation of my stance: having a favorite, for me, implies that I have had the opportunity to sample all the available varieties of the subject in question, which is simply not possible, for obvious reasons. Other times (such as now) I will vaguely answer the question by mentioning a specific experience that has piqued my interest lately.

While re-watching the original Ghost in the Shell (directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995) for the umpteenth time last summer, my thoughts lingered on the question: what does it mean to be human, especially in the middle of a global (health and economic) crisis? The multilayered anime suggests a fundamental, yet often overlooked answer: connecting with other people, regardless of the physical boundaries of our everyday lives. A well-thought-out synecdoche of the movie is the melancholic boat scene, which brilliantly encapsulates the “ghost” in this cinematic “shell”. Each time I hear Motoko’s ghost saying “What We See Now Is Like A Dim Image In A Mirror. Then We Shall See Face To Face”, a cycle of deep self-reflection starts anew.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

When attending a festival, my strategy usually consists of three steps: 1) temporarily ‘forgetting’ everything I know about certain films, directors, actors, etc.; 2) watching as many films as humanly possible, without any expectations or preconceived notions; and 3) “remembering” my previously forgotten knowledge and analyzing the watched movies in a wider socio-political and historical context. This year is special because I haven’t been to an international film festival since the COVID-19 crisis started and I’m super excited about attending the Film Fest Ghent. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing:

  • Bergman Island (2021) by Mia Hansen-Løve
  • Captain Volkonogov Escaped (2021) by Natasha Merkulova & Aleksey Chupov
  • The Year of the Everlasting Storm (2021) by Jafar Panahi, Dominga Sotomayor, Malik Vitthal, David Lowery, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Laura Poitras & Anthony Chen.

Jack Seibert

I’m Jack, I grew up in New York City, and I live in Los Angeles now. Movies didn’t play a huge role in my life until a few years ago. Instead I bounced around a bunch of interests, studying literature in college and currently working at a video game studio. Writing seemed like a natural way to sort through my feelings once movies did begin to consume my life—recent favorites include Nick Ray, Tsui Hark—and now I hope to do it as much as I can.

Cinephiliac Moment

There’s a moment at the end of Empire Records (Allan Moyle, 1995) that’s stuck with me since I watched it two years ago on a plane, where I’m always emotionally vulnerable. Renée Zellweger is singing on the roof of the record store, and the band points to her to sing a verse solo. She messes up, but then she closes her eyes and pumps her arms up and down in the most private, in-front-of-the-bathroom-mirror type of dance. It looks so uncool, but so assured, like she’s throwing away every nerve she’d built up over the movie. I saw it again when I watched Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939), when Jean Arthur sees the trick coin and drops her hesitations to run out into the rain. If you look close enough she even does a bit of the same arm pump. So that’s two moments, but also sort of one moment twice, a half-century apart.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

  1. The Souvenir Part 2 (Joanna Hogg): I liked the first one a lot, and I think it shows some of Hogg’s wry humor to release a “part two” to a movie like it. Imagine if we had The Devil, Definitely or Ordet 2: Twice the Resurrections.
  2. Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul): Since it’s based on a sound, I think it’ll be great to see together with an audience. Plus I adore Jeanne Balibar.
  3. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Alexandre Koberidze): This might be my only chance to see it in a theater and it looks very lovely.

Luise Mörke

I’m a writer and graduate student of art history, currently based in Berlin.

Cinephiliac Moment

My choice for a cinephiliac moment has to be the following scene in Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970), which was very important for me when I first started writing about film: After a loveless one-night stand, Wanda is abandoned in a parking lot by the man who was supposed to give her a ride. Alone and adrift once again, she buys a cone of soft serve at a roadside snack stall. She looks around, at nothing in particular, and seems to have lost all appetite for the small, immaculate swirl of sugar and cream that promises a moment of happy indulgence. The line between being lost and unlost is thin, and no movie has made me think about that in the way that Wanda has.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

  1. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria
  2. Alexander Voulgaris’sWinona
  3. and The First 54 Yearsby Avi Mograbi

Nazeeh Alghazawneh

My name is Nazeeh. I’m Palestinian. I drink my coffee black, just like my dear mother. Everything I write and do is for her. She is the only reason you’re reading these words. And any subsequent writing you may read from me is firmly rooted in the love she has for me. The people in your life that care about you are the only reason for doing anything.

Cinephiliac Moment

My greatest “cinephiliac moment” is watching and experiencing Jim Jarmusch’s 1984 no wave classic, Stranger Than Paradise. I had no idea that you could make a feature length film about “nothing” so fascinating. Among the many wonderful scenes in it, one of my particular favs is when Eva goes to the movies with that guy and Willie & Eddie tag along and sit in-between them and Eva’s “date” is tight!!!! lmao. The film also introduced me to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins so yah very formative for young Nazeeh.

Top three anticipated FFG Films

  1. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? by Alexandre Koberidze
  2. The Tsugua Diaries by Miguel Gomes, Maureen Fazendeiro
  3. El gran movimiento by Kiro Russo