Rebecca Harkins-Cross is a writer and critic from Melbourne, Australia. She is currently the film editor for The Big Issue, film columnist for The Lifted Brow and a PhD candidate in Creative Writing/Film Studies at Monash University. She was also a theatre critic at The Age from 2012–2015. Her research interests include interdisciplinary criticism, the intersection between criticism and the literary essay, and the history of Australian cinema. Her writing appears regularly in publications like The Australian, The Saturday Paper, Meanjin, Metro and Fireflies. She has served on film festival juries like the New Horizons Film Festival in Wrocław, Poland and, locally, the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival; earlier this year she attended the 66th Berlinale as a guest of the German Foreign Office. In 2015 she was named one of 30 Writers Under 30 by the Melbourne Writers Festival, took part in the Disquiet International Literary Conference in Lisbon, Portugal and received a Creative Victoria New Work Grant to complete her first book of critical essays. In 2014 she was a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow and a finalist for the Scribe Non-Fiction Prize. Her writing has won several awards from the Australian Film Critics Association.
City I call home: Melbourne, Australia
Twitter handle: @rharcross
Type of cinema I am most passionate about:
Australian film—I think our cinema illuminates our national mythology, both spoken and unspoken, more than any other art form. That said, I have an abiding interest in feminist film and experimental documentary, and am a sucker for French New Wave and the New Hollywood.
A film that changed me/my mind is:
Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique (1991). As a teenager I discovered it entirely by accident on television one night and realised, for the first time, that cinema wasn’t only about narrative. I got a glimpse of cinema as a desiring machine, where subjectivity (and particularly female subjectivity) can be articulated in ways that transcend the mechanics of plot and character.
Cinema excites me because:
Each encounter in the dark holds the potential for reinvention and revelation.
My career highlight was when:
I recently interviewed Isabelle Huppert at the Berlinale in the Hotel Adlon (where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his newborn Blanket over the balcony). An entirely surreal experience.
The future of film criticism is:
Uncertain and brimming with possibility. While the avenues for well-paid criticism are rapidly shrinking, there are greater freedoms offered to the critic as they move outside of traditional media—both in terms of who the critic is and the role that they play.
The criticism I’m currently most excited by:
Occupies the borderlands of the form, asking whether an act of criticism may also be one of essay writing, or memoir, or even one of fiction.
Film criticism is important because:
At its best, it’s an art-form in its own right. I’ll leave it to the literary critic Elizabeth Hardwick, who I think said it best: “Criticism, analysis, reflection is a natural response to the existence in the world of works of art…. Without it, works of art would appear in a vacuum, as if they had no relation to the minds experiencing them. It would be a dismal, unthinkable world with these shooting stars arousing no comment, leaving no trace.”
The film I'm most looking forward to at MIFF is:
A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery. I couldn't fit Lav Diaz's eight hour epic into my Berlinale schedule, and have been longing to see it ever since. A festival is one of the only times you can partake in cinema as endurance sport.