Now in its sixth edition, the Melbourne International Film Festival Critics Campus is an intensive five-day lab that enables emerging Australian film critics to develop their skills in a live festival setting. Critics Campus will take place during the festival’s 68th edition, 1–18 August 2019.
Underlying the Campus’s ethos is a belief that in a swiftly changing media environment, informed writing on cinema is vital to a strong film culture and industry. Digital media allows for a diversity of voices yet poses challenges for writers seeking employment in the field. With the ongoing questions surrounding the sustainability of arts criticism, and the importance of encouraging new and underrepresented voices, Critics Campus continues in its commitment to refreshing and growing the country’s critical landscape, redefining the ways our new writers consider the culture, and to preparing participants for a successful career in writing about the screen. It also offers them a platform to be heard in the competitive Festival environment.
Eight participants will take part in mentoring sessions with eight prominent film critics, alongside panels with key Australian industry and media players. Participants will produce assigned coverage of the Festival, both for MIFF and external publications of their choice. They will have access to Festival films, publicity materials, guests and networking opportunities. In return, meals and accommodation will be provided, as well as the invaluable experience of producing a range of pieces daily for publication across a variety of outlets.
Three guest international critics will visit the Festival to participate in the Campus, alongside five Australian film critics, variously assisting with mentoring, sitting on panels, and as a resource for the participants. Past mentors have included Jessica Kiang (Variety), Simran Hans (The Observer), Eric Hynes (Museum of the Moving Image), Guy Lodge (Variety), Violet Lucca (Film Comment), Kevin B. Lee, and Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Applications for 2019 were sought from Australian writers in the beginning stages of their career, with no more than two years’ experience in film writing.
Since participating in the lab, alumni have gone on to write for ABC Arts, The Guardian, The Monthly, The Hollywood Reporter, Cinema Scope, Film Comment, MUBI, Dazed, Little White Lies, Sight and Sound, The Age, 4:3, SBS, The Saturday Paper, Another Gaze, Senses of Cinema, and Metro, among others.
“Critics Campus was one of the most formative experiences of my life. It completely changed the direction of my career, and its invaluable impact continues to reverberate on a daily basis. It fostered astonishingly swift personal growth, opening me up to a complex, invigorating, and enthusiastic film community where – perhaps most importantly – I made some of my dearest friends.” – 2018 Critics Campus alumna Ivana Brehas
“It was an enormous privilege and an even bigger pleasure to participate in such a well-run Critics Campus -- I had such a great time pretending to inspire this exceptionally bright and promising group of new critics, while in fact learning way more from them than I ever could have imparted.” – Jessica Kiang, critic for Variety and 2018 mentor.
"The entire experience of the Critics Campus was invaluable. Every day was challenging, exciting and gave me a first-hand insight into the world of film writing" – 2017 Critics Campus alumna Faith Everard.
"It was brilliant, inspiring, well-organised and just so so much fun. I learned loads, and it made me think a lot about my own writing practice. Definitely the best critics lab I've ever taken part in, as either a mentor or mentee” – Simran Hans, critic for The Observer and 2017 mentor.
“The experience was transformative. Whenever I sit down to write now, I remember a little lesson [from the Campus] and I'm grateful for each one. My mentor made me feel valued, challenged, positive and proud – especially when she offered me work on the third day. The hot-house environment made me a faster, stronger, more ruthless writer. I wouldn't have achieved such progress without the support of our mentors, the guest speakers and generous MIFF staff” – 2016 Critics Campus alumna Aimee Knight, now the Small Screens editor at The Big Issue.
All Critics Campus enquiries should be directed to criticscampus(at)miff.com.au.