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 August 10-14 2020, as part of MIFF 68½ Digital Film Festival.

Critics Campus has always been committed to training emerging talent in ways to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape, and there’s never been a time in which this feels more essential than the present – a moment when the culture needs to nurture its young writers in the face of dramatic upheavals across the arts sector. With that in mind, this year’s Critics Campus will offer a truly unique experience as the program is reshaped for the digital space. In addition to the core program of mentoring workshops with established critics, this year’s Critics Campus will include an exciting new program of special guest speakers from around the world, filmmaker Q&A sessions and live editing workshops, with more to be announced.

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 and will be given access to films, publicity materials and interview opportunities.

Past mentors have included Jessica Kiang (Variety), Simran Hans (The Observer), Eric Hynes (Museum of the Moving Image, Film Comment), Guy Lodge (Variety, The Guardian), Ela Bittencourt (Film Comment, Artforum), Charlie Shackleton (Sight & Sound), K. Austin Collins (Vanity Fair), Violet Lucca (Film Comment), Daniel Kasman (MUBI), David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter) and Jonathan Rosenbaum.

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

"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 be available to participate 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 in recent theatrical release (i.e. January-May 2020) or current streaming (new release titles only)
    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.

Applications are now closed. Successful applicants will be notified by 7 June 2020.

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