Critics Campus

Applications for Critics Campus 2021 are now closed.

Now in its eighth edition, the Melbourne International Film Festival Critics Campus is an intensive five-day program of panels, workshops and mentoring that enables emerging Australian film critics to develop their skills in a live festival setting. Critics Campus will take place from Monday 9 to Friday 13 August 2021, during MIFF’s 69th edition.

Since 2014, Critics Campus has proved an invaluable incubator of emerging talent, committed to fostering new voices in both Australian screen criticism and wider arts writing. In a rapidly changing media landscape, Critics Campus is dedicated to the idea that informed screen criticism is vital to a healthy screen culture and industry. 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 successful careers in screen criticism.

Eight selected participants will take part in mentoring sessions with eight leading Australian film critics, alongside joining a range of panels, workshops and live-editing sessions with some of the best critics from around the world. Participants will have access to festival films, publicity materials, guests and networking opportunities at MIFF.

Read about this year’s participants and mentors.


Past editions

Some of our past Critics Campus mentors include Anwen Crawford (The Monthly), Craig Mathieson (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald), Jason Di Rosso (ABC), Wenlei Ma (, Dan Golding (ABC), Philippa Hawker (The Australian), Adolfo Aranjuez (Metro), Simran Hans (The Observer), Guy Lodge (Variety), Jessica Kiang (Variety), Eric Hynes (Museum of the Moving Image), Ela Bittencourt (Film Comment), Charlie Shackleton (Sight & Sound), K. Austin Collins (Vanity Fair), Violet Lucca (Film Comment), Daniel Kasman (MUBI), David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter), Kevin B. Lee and Jonathan Rosenbaum.

International guest speakers have included Nick Pinkerton, Dennis Lim, Zia Anger, K. Austin Collins, Jessica Kiang, Ashley Clark, Eric Hynes, Ela Bittencourt, Justin Chang, Farihah Zaman, Kelley Dong, Michael Koresky and Devika Girish.

Since participating in the lab, alumni have gone on to write for Cinema Scope, The Guardian, The Monthly, Hollywood Reporter, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, Sight & Sound, The Saturday Paper, Reverse Shot and elsewhere.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for me. It felt a little overwhelming, because there were so many different writers and thinkers coming from different perspectives, but it got me connected with so many people from the culture.”
Shaheen Ahmed, 2020 Critics Campus alumna

“I’m so grateful for the experience – it’s been pretty unique and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of it. It’s been great hearing from professional critics, especially other critics who are queer and people of colour.
Merryana Salem, 2020 Critics Campus alumna

“The campus offers emerging voices a valuable insight into the practices of working critics. It includes a program of discussions that is the best of its kind in the country – unparalleled not just in film, but in the arts more generally.”
Jason Di Rosso, 2020 Critics Campus mentor

“Critics Campus was such an invaluable and formative experience for me. The program was such an encouraging, enriching experience that has no doubt shaped my writing for the better.”
Isabella Trimboli, 2019 Critics Campus alumna

“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, 2018 Critics Campus mentor

“I had a fantastic week and can’t believe this program even exists. Guy [Lodge] was the most wonderful mentor and completely changed how I thought about film writing. Critics Campus was one of the best things I’ve done.”
Phoebe Chen, 2017 Critics Campus alumna