Panelists discuss implications of new media on professional film criticism
L to R: Film critics Justin Chang and Elvis Mitchell
Watch the conference on Vimeo
A large group of students, scholars, filmmakers, and critics gathered Saturday, April 2, for the annual Reel Spirituality Conference on the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Institutions represented included Biola University, Evangelical University, ActOne for Hollywood, the Los Angeles Film Studies Center (LAFSC), and Fuller Seminary. This year’s featured attraction was “The Death of the Critic?” as attendees considered the continued purpose of professional critics in modern society.
The conference began with the presentation of a paper by journalist Mark Pinsky about the current state of film criticism. New-media critic Gareth Higgins and Fuller professor Carolyn Gordon responded, offering more hopeful opinions of criticism today.
The second session of the day featured professional critics Elvis Mitchell (KCRW), Claudia Puig (USA Today
), Justin Chang (Variety
), and Jeffrey Overstreet (Image Journal
) and was moderated by Scott Young (LAFSC). The critics discussed how and why they got into film criticism and what has sustained their interest over the years.
Just prior to lunch, attendees were given the opportunity to view Luke Matheny’s Oscar-winning short film God of Love
and then were invited to blog their critique of the film on the Brehm Center’s website over lunch. In an afternoon session, the audience’s responses were compared with critiques by the panel of critics. The critics’ and audience’s critiques are still viewable on the Brehm Center’s website.
Another afternoon session featured Terrance Berry (ActOne), Ralph Winter (producer), Charlie Nelson (Grace Hill Media), and Elvis Mitchell (KCRW) discussing the impact professional critics and new media critics have had on the film industry.
The day was rounded out with a presentation by Gareth Higgins, in which he reflected on the power of film and the ways film critics have influenced his love of cinema. He encouraged conference attendees to continue critiquing and to continue being spurred on by other critics in their love of movies.