MIFF’s Miami Future Cinema Critics Now Accepting Applications for 2014

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MFCC Jury Members Justin James & Juan Barquin at MIFF 2013 Awards Night Ceremony at Olympia Theater
Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) launched the inaugural Miami Future Cinema Critics (MFCC) 2013 program at its 30th anniversary festival this past March in an effort to showcase new voices in film and to preserve the art of film criticism. Well, don’t critics just watch films and tell you what they think afterward? Certainly not!

Film criticism is an art in the sense that it requires a certain sensibility and appreciation for viewing films, understanding the complexities of what a filmmaker intends for the audience, deriving one’s own personal experience of the movie, and then deciding as to where cinema could or should go. Film critics play a far larger role than a reviewer; a film critic helps to define the future of the cinema.

During last year’s MIFF “Analyze This” panel, which featured film critics David Edelstein (New York Magazine), Leah Rozen (The Wrap), Claudia Puig (USA TODAY), Kim Voynar (Movie City News), Dan Hudak (Hudak on Hollywood), the open conversation revolved around the challenges of their positions as relevant critics of film. They urged MFCC members to “watch as many films as possible, to develop a voice, and write whenever possible, even if you’re not yet published.”

An insightful subject came up: social media and the role of the film critic. One may think that with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to publish your own opinion on a particular film. Unlike the “Two Thumbs Up!” paradigm for reviewing films that worked decades before, the “thumbs up” strategy (…or likes on Facebook) does not make one a film critic and does not translate into either a proper positive or negative review. Film analysis is changing in a technological age of short attention spans and social media platforms, so it is up to film critics to re-define their role in the film industry.

MIFF challenged us (the first MFCC panel members) to view and experience films in a larger cultural and societal context. Each of us was required to watch a select number of films screening at the Festival under the guidance of a MIFF-assigned mentor and then blog our reviews according to pre-established deadlines and thereby publish our opinions to the world. 

Film still from Beijing Flickers, Miami Future Cinema Critics 2013 Award Winner
After viewing all the films, the MFCC panel acted as judges to select one film that would ultimately win the first Miami Future Cinema Critics Award. Last year’s MFCC members Juan Barquin, Grace Paulus, and Justin James unanimously selected Beijing Flickers (You-Zhong), a stirring portrait of a class left behind by Beijing’s new economy, by Zhang Yuan, as the award recipient. —Justin James, 2013 Miami Future Cinema Critic

MIFF is seeking creative Miami-based bloggers, journalists, videographers, podcasters between the ages of 21-30 years (on March 7, 2014).  If you are passionate about film, and can demonstrate an interest and commitment to the craft of film critiquing, we would like to hear from YOU!  Click here for details.

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Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.