Olivia Bennett is a Melbourne/Naarm-based writer, filmmaker and curator. Her practice specialises in the socio-political effects, and intersections between, art and film philosophy, post-humanism, technology and digital media.
Olivia is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, having graduated with a Bachelor of Art History and Curating with a major in Film Studies from Monash University in May 2019.
Movie location you call home: Michelangelo Antonioni and Alice Rohrwacher’s Italy: an absurdist’s fever dream — a place where the nonhuman speaks.
I’m looking forward to Critics Campus because: I will be working in a new environment, writing about what I love, and collaborating with like-minded people.
Criticism matters in 2019 because: It has the ability to transform the incomprehensible into the comprehensible.
The biggest issue affecting film criticism today is: The reluctance by tertiary and commercial institutions to accept the legitimacy of audio-visual, and other experimental modes of criticism.
Cinema excites me because: It challenges received ways of experiencing the world.
The film or experience that made me want to write about film: Despite holding a bias against the entertainment value of black and white films (a belief I understand as being common to most children/teenagers), Gaslight (1944) opened my eyes to the expressive power of cinematography and editing at the age of 15. I spent the next year obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock and saving for a Super 8 camera, which I still have to this day.
A critic that inspires me: Hito Steyerl. For blurring disciplinary lines, pioneering the art/essay/documentary film, and challenging the institution at all times.
A movie I changed my mind about: Sweetgrass (2009), directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash of Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL). Initially I was rather ambivalent about this film, but after watching SEL’s Leviathan (2012) I realised that both films, especially through their privileging of sound over image, have the potential to radically confront our impending ecological crisis.
In my fantasy biopic, I would be played by: Rooney Mara.
Favourite film of the year so far, and why: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite crafts a poignant socio-political critique, one that challenges the neoliberalist camping of individuals as either those that contribute to, or those that leech off society’s resources. Bong presents us with a question: if the lower-class dream for the simple comfort of bare necessities, and all the upper-class have known to expect is excess — who do you believe is more likely to kill their host first?
My MIFF 2019 theme song is: James Ferraro’s “Remnant”