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Festival of Ideas

Philip French Memorial Lecture 2019 Simran Hans

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As the landscape for film criticism continues to evolve, so too do questions around platforms and approach.

Simran Hans – film critic for the Observer amongst others – has worked tirelessly as both a critic and a programmer and has, as a result, a wealth of understanding of the pressures facing film criticism and the wider industry.

Hans responds to some of the most pressing concerns about the role of the critic in uncertain times. Does a critic need a personal brand? To what extent does film criticism intersect with the film industry and should critics feel a responsibility to engage with the industry at large? Finally, despite the abundance of film critics and changing media platforms, writing and publishing reviews is still perceived as a necessary skill for a critic. Is this likely to change and should it? Just how important is trade and print film journalism for the future?

Philip French was Britain’s foremost film critic – well-informed, widely-read, with a deep understanding of the practicalities of film-making and a taste for elaborate puns – and legions of readers of his regular reviews in the Observer and essays in Sight and Sound were devoted to his work.

French was educated at Bristol Grammar School, and his first job as a professional journalist was on the Bristol Evening Post. Bristol was important to him in developing his love for and knowledge about cinema and Bristol Festival of Ideas and Watershed are delighted to be organising and hosting this annual lecture devoted to his memory.

This special event, the fourth Philip French lecture, was presented in partnership with Watershed and the Observer and opened the fourth edition of Cinema Rediscovered (25 – 28th July), a festival dedicated to the rediscovery of great films at the cinema, also home to the Film Critics’ Workshop, bringing together established, aspiring and early-career film critics to reflect on film criticism, both now and in the future.

This event was also part of the Festival of Ideas annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.

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