EU National Institutes for Culture - EUNIC


Film Critic Encounters - Jil Cilima

Film criticism is an important part of the healthy development of any film industry and ecosystem. Good criticism helps non-specialist audiences to identify with new perspectives, nuances and to question the way that they view and consume cinematographic content. In Algeria, the lack of film schools, a dormant film industry, this project sought to develop new links with EU film experts and critics. Algerian film aficionados engaged in vibrant dialogue and exchanges with European actors through discussion panels and online workshops.

Screenings of EU films during the annual EU Film Days enabled these film critics to put their newly acquired skills to the test: they wrote criticisms of several films which audiences at the festival were invited to read.

Online workshops

The project wanted to improve the access and knowledge of world cinema and various genres for the Algerian public.

The project launched an Open Call which attracted over 420 applicants for just 36 places on an intensive week-long course of masterclasses, led by a UK film critic Ian Haydn-Smith. Ian Haydn-Smith prepared clips from films made in the early 20th Century through to 21st Century, with a strong focus on European films. Algerian film experts were invited to jointly lead aspects of the Masterclasses but opted to join the panel discussions.

A series of lectures, workshops, discussions and masterclasses presented to students provided an in-depth look at the roles of criticism and the critic, film culture within a global and local context, and cinema as a universal language.

In parallel, for industry professionals, the project organised events that created a platform for discussion around the role of cinema, both contemporary and historical, in reflecting culture and society. Algerian and European film experts explored the shared values of contrasting cultural attitudes and the properties shared by different cinemas.

The project also organised a special event which focused on the nature of journalism within a rapidly changing media environment.

For students, the lectures, discussions and workshops presented an opportunity for participants to express opinions and discuss ideas within the framework of a critical environment. Through a series of exercises and feedback sessions, as well as screenings and post-screening discussions, students engaged with aspects of film writing and criticism, covering creative, technical and wider social aspects of the filmmaking process.

On the Algerian side, a key finding from the project was that expertise related to cinema history, and there was agreement that there is a dearth of Algerian film critics compared to the heyday of Mouny Berrah.

Highlights of the week included panel discussions on the crisis of criticism and the future of film. Algerian Director Salem Brahimi (Let Them Come) also joined an online Q&A event alongside European critics.

Grateful to have been trained, along with around thirty other cinema enthusiasts, by the exceptional Ian Haydn Smith. It was a humanely and cinematically enriching experience.

Randa, Twitter post

  • Film
  • Workshop

Co-funded by the European Union Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.