The media industry is under pressure – and with it cultural criticism. The renowned Swiss film festival Solothurn Film Festival, which starts its 56th edition digitally on January 20th, is therefore helping the starving film critics and focusing on the guild. After all, the critical review is essential for the scene, explains Filmtage Director Anita Hugi – even if the click figures show that reviews do not pay off in online journalism.
That is why the executive floors of media houses are repeatedly calling for the abolition of classical cultural criticism. But for cultural workers, the professional and differentiated examination of their work in the media public is essential.
The criticism reflects and stimulates artistic creation, says Hugi, director of the Solothurn Film Festival since 2019. “Criticism opens up new approaches and relevant contexts. For filmmakers themselves, criticism opens up new perspectives on their own work.” In an interview with Keystone-SDA, Hugi describes cultural criticism as a cultural asset, as “another art form that stands in an echo room to an artistic work”.
In the “Focus” program series, the film days show a wide variety of types of film criticism. Master classes, podiums, film screenings – the events are intended to illustrate the range of critical discussions that exist with the medium of film today. Experts discuss film criticism in the form of video essays or ask in the “Post-pandemic film criticism” panel how film criticism should look in the future.
Cultural criticism desperately needs initiatives like those of the film days. The critical discussion of culture is given less and less space in the mass media, and not just since clicks have been counted. “The dismantling began with the dance criticism, followed by the literary criticism and so on. The film criticism lasted relatively long,” says the former journalist Hugi.
Film critics are not just “personal shoppers” who distribute stars. “Rather, they place works in a context, both social and film.” That could also happen with a well-written portrait, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the classic form of the review. With their focus on “Eloge de la critique – Praise of Criticism”, the film days see themselves as a source of inspiration. “We encourage the critics in their work, urge them to stick with it, to harden their muscles.”
(SERVICE – The 56th Solothurner Filmtage lasts from January 20th to 27th. Www.solothurnerfilmtage.ch)