Critics Campus

Now in its seventh 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 69th edition, 6–23 August 2020.

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), Ela Bittencourt (Film Comment, Artforum), Charlie Shackleton (Sight & Sound), K. Austin Collins (Vanity Fair), Violet Lucca (Film Comment), and Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Since participating in the lab, alumni have gone on to write for Cinema Scope, ABC Arts, The Guardian, The Monthly, The Hollywood Reporter, Film Comment, MUBI, Dazed, Sight & Sound, SBS, Another Gaze, and Reverse Shot, among many others.

"It’s hard to put into words how formative and nurturing Critics Campus was for me – it was one of the most intense, sleepless, joyful and creatively-fulfilling weeks I’ve ever experienced." – 2019 Critics Campus alumna Claire Cao.

“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. 

Applications are sought from emerging and early-career critics, with no more than two years’ professional writing experience. They should prepare to be available in Melbourne 10-14 August inclusive. Please note that applications are open to Australian residents only.

Applicants will be asked to provide:

  • A one-page resume covering relevant studies and/or professional experience and a list of published writing and criticism with links where relevant.

  • Three film writing samples:
    1. a 500-word review of a film currently in theatrical release
    2. an 800-word feature/essay/interview
    3. a piece of the applicant’s choice that they feel best demonstrates their capabilities. This may take the form of a feature, longform review, video essay, podcast (5-10 min excerpt), experimental writing piece, or other form that demonstrates critical engagement and ability, etc.

Applicants are welcome to submit either samples that have been previously published, or new pieces written specifically for the application. University essays are allowed but not encouraged. Previously unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply in 2020.

Deadline for applications is 5pm Thursday 30 April 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by Thursday 7 May 2020.

All Critics Campus enquiries should be directed to critics(at)

Apply now