BFI LFF Film Critics Mentorship Scheme 2020

Posted 21 August 2020

Film critics can hold a powerful position when it comes to the life of a film, from helping to generate buzz around festival time, months – sometimes years - before a film will reach general audiences, to star-rating reviews and think pieces in the days after it opens at the Box Office. But who are these elusive writers, how did they get where they are, and why are they mostly white men?

A topic debated for decades still goes on within film culture over the staggering lack of diversity; criticism is no exception. If the power of watching films from a diverse range of filmmakers is that it can give us access to innumerable of ways of how people see and experience the world, then criticism from writers of different backgrounds offers a variety of insights into the film itself. Objectivity in criticism is not wholly unimportant, but themes missed by, or unimportant to, one writer might be significant to another and completely change how an individual might approach or respond to a film. It could introduce a whole new audience to a film that might otherwise go undiscovered, something that is hugely important to the smaller, independent titles that do not necessarily have ‘posters on the side of buses’ marketing budgets. Such criticism can be instrumental in making this bountiful but somewhat intimidating world of independent film just that little bit more accessible.

Unfortunately, full time (or even just paid!) film writing opportunities are lacking. Without experience, which can be difficult to get if you cannot afford it, it is an incredibly competitive field to break into, which is why we see the same faces with by-lines in major publications.

With this in mind, we bring news of an excellent opportunity for budding film critics and journalists. The BFI London Film Festival (LFF) 2020 has opened applications for their third annual critics' mentorship scheme, offered exclusively to six Black applicants. The programme pays the successful applicants the London Living wage and offers an exciting programme of activity during LFF to develop mentees’ understanding of the industry and establish themselves as ones-to-watch in the future of film criticism. As well as their own individual mentors, participants will be guided by critic and screenwriter Kate Muir, and Akua Gyamfi, journalist and founder of The British Blacklist: an online platform that champions the woefully underrepresented work of African and Caribbean creatives in the arts. There is so much work to be done in every area of the film industry to become more inclusive and representative: this is one step in the right direction.

The deadline is Monday 24 August 2020 and applicants must be 18 or over with the right to work in the UK. More details about the programme and application process can be found by searching the BFI Jobs and Opportunities site:


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