Annabel Brady-Brown is a writer, critic and editor from Melbourne. She is a founding editor/publisher of the film magazine Fireflies, film editor at The Big Issue, and an outgoing editor at the literary journal The Lifted Brow. Her film writing has appeared in publications such as SFMOMA’s Open Space, MUBI Notebook, Senses of Cinema, 4:3, Kill Your Darlings and more. With the team at Fireflies, she has programmed screenings and discussions at places like the Volksbühne and WOLF Kino in Berlin, IMPAKT Festival in Utrecht, Close-Up Cinema in London, Golden Age Cinema in Sydney, and ACMI in Melbourne. She was a participant in RMIT non/fictionLab’s Women Writers in the City project in 2017, and in the Locarno Critics Campus 2016.
Outlets: Fireflies, The Big Issue
Movie location I call home: The dancefloor of the Djibouti disco at the end of Beau Travail.
Film criticism is important in 2018 because: Hot takes leave me cold.
The film or experience that made me want to write about film: I sort of fell into film criticism, coming from a background in creative writing. The push? Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which haunted me in a way cinema hadn’t previously. It instilled in me that urgent desire to write as a means to think through and unpick the ways in which art moves us, and why it matters.
The advice I’d give myself starting out: Get involved. Hunt out your local cine-clubs, or start a zine. Volunteer. Reach out to the people around you, because community is everything.
A critic that inspired me: Hilton Als is someone whose writing I’ve long respected (for his rigour and sophisticated thought; for the beauty of his sentences) but reading his book White Girls was one of those watershed experiences that ecstatically scrambled and expanded my notion of how one can do criticism.
A critic everyone should be reading, if they aren’t already: Whoa, way too many to pick, but I’ll read anything and everything by Rebecca Harkins-Cross; Michael Koresky, especially his ‘Queer & Now & Then’ column; Giovanni Marchini Camia; Sarah Nicole Prickett, Rebekah Rutkoff; Nick Pinkerton; Eric Allen Hatch’s twitter account; etc. etc. etc.
A piece of film criticism that changed my mind about a film: Erika Balsom’s review of Faces Places rips off the kindly façade of Varda and JR’s latest documentary to hammer home why their approach here is so troublingly careless. I appreciate Balsom’s review not just for its insight, but also for the profound respect it shows to both Varda (whom we both deeply admire) and her subjects – a rarity for a negative review.
Favourite film of the year so far: Alice Rohrwacher isn’t afraid of employing a little cinema magic, and in the sublime Happy as Lazzaro she makes use of the medium’s capacity to blur reality and fantasy, throwing us down the rabbit-hole and embracing the textures of myth or fable. Poetic, deeply humanistic, and examining injustice in the contemporary world – this is everything I want in a movie in 2018.
I’m looking forward to Critics Campus because: Talking and thinking about criticism, and the manifold ways to approach it, is always stimulating. I’m going to learn plenty from my fellow mentors and mentees alike.
My film festival theme music is: The Climax soundtrack, on repeat, forever.