Shristi Jain has been obsessed with cinema for the past week. The 19-year-old has watched various genres of world cinema and attended several film workshops. Jain, a second year media student at UPG College of Management, aspires to be a film critic.
She is one of the 24 students selected for the three-day Young Critics Workshop orgainsed between October 18 and October 20 as part of the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI). The workshop aims to educate cinema buffs on the art of critiquing films. With speakers such as film theorist Amrit Gangar, German reviewer Daniel KothenShulte and the Hindustan Times’ National Cultural Editor Mayank Shekar, the students had three days of cinematic bliss.
“Amrit Gangar showed us how to conceptualise Indian aesthetics while reviewing movies of different genres. This is something I haven’t been exposed to even in film school,” said 22-year-old Peter Simon, a final year direction student at Whistling Woods International School.
Even the Berlin Film Festival has a crtics workshop, but the idea to conduct it only for students is unique to MAMI.
“We wanted to expose students to different genres of cinema and break the mould of Hollywood and Bollywood. We introduced this workshop last year and it was very successful,” said Ritwik Sawant, the workshop’s coordinator. There were 90 applicants who were made to watch a Danish film and review it within 90 minutes. A jury screened the reviews and 24 finalists were selected.
Chirag Thakkar, a media student at Jai Hind College, had not qualified for last year’s batch. “I finally got in this year and the workshop was definitely worth it,” he said.
At the end of the day’s workshop, students could submit their reviews to the respective speakers and get feedback. “Speakers gave us an insight to modern reviewing by giving us valuable tips on the dos and don’ts of commercial reviewing,” said 20-year-old Arundhati Chatterjee, a media student at St Andrews College, Bandra.
The interactive workshop also helped a few of them understand how difficult film critiquing really is. “I had no idea about the amount of film knowledge that was required to critique a movie. Critiquing a movie is like putting on a different pair of glasses and observing the magic of the cinema that the director has woven into the story,” said 21-year-old Khyati Joshi, a final year philosophy student from Mithibai College in Vile Parle.
Even the speakers were impressed with the batch. “This is one of the few young critics workshops happening in the world and the students were open to world cinema, something that I don’t see too often,” said KothenShulte.
For Jain, the three-day workshop was a learning experience of a lifetime. “The workshop helped me realise the real task is the justification required while critiquing a movie,” she added.