Pamela Pianezza (FR) is a contributor to numerous magazines such as Première, or Le Monde des ados. She frequently writes about crime films and about new Scandinavian cinema. She has been a FIPRESCI juror in the last editions of the Venice, Goteborg, and Stockholm film festivals.
You were supposed to choose best films of the years 2010 and 2011. What are the chosen films like?
This is my first time at Cinematik and I am delighted by the films we chose because they show how the European production is doing well and how smart it can be. Look at Carlos and Four Lions: they found a clever but risky way to talk about a sensitive subject, terrorism. I also love to have three variations on the most exploited theme in the cinema, love: at its beginning with Submarine, after years of living together with Another Year or in a dramatic context with If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.
What is the difference between being a critic and being a member of a jury in a festival? Does the view on films differ?
I can only speak for myself but the way I analyze films doesn’t change. The difference has more to do with the pressure on me. When I write a review I accept the idea that I may be mistaken or that I may change my mind later since what I write is only my opinion. On the other hand the awarding of a prize may decide the future of a film. As a member of a jury, I feel like I have no right to make mistakes, which is stupid in a way since there’s no right or wrong answer. But still, it’s a tough job…
Does the critique in general have some voice today? Does it influence reception of films?
Hard to say… I often read that the public doesn’t care anymore about what critics think but since we still have readers, I guess we’re not talking for nothing either. And I trust them to see the difference between critics who make their job seriously and argue their choices and those who merely describe the plot, use platitudes and end with lapidary judgments. For sure, professional film critics no longer have a monopoly on film criticism, but I don’t think we lost our voice. We just have to work harder to keep our legitimacy.
What is the future of the critique in print media?
I am less optimistic on this point. The future of the critique directly depends on editorial choices – which most of the time means economic choices – and clearly, the quality of the reviews is not the number one priority anymore.
Can today’s reviews be still in-depth?
They can and they should be, but less and less magazines accept in-depth reviews. Every time the design of a magazine changes, the place dedicated to long articles in general and to film reviews in particular decreases. To find a place where they can write in-depth reviews, film critics often have to migrate to the Web and work for free.
Can we talk about French critique? Does it have its specifics?
Even if French critique is following the international tendencies, it seems to me that the auteur policy that emerged from the film criticism of Cahiers du cinéma is still influencing a lot of us. Petty politicking between the two main film magazines – not in term of number of readers but in term of contribution to the analysis of trends in cinema – Les Cahiers and Positif, is still relevant and still devides the world of criticism. It’s old-fashioned and exciting at the same time because it creates a lot of debates. Besides, a lot of us are still obsessed with the New Wave, to which we compare almost everything. We like directors to be auteurs and are often very suspicious with the “tradition of quality”, as Truffaut used to say.
What is the condition of the critique in France today?
As elsewhere, the professional criticism is threatened, but France is still a wonderful territory for film lovers and we still have good – but precarious – places to work. Anyway, I’m more and more convinced that the future of the critique is not in print media anymore but on the internet or in publishing. Some days I find this situation depressing but ultimatly it means that everything remains to be done.