Happy Fifteenth, Reverse Shot!

Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago (2010)

With its strong editorial voice and formidable stable of writers, Reverse Shot is one of the most respected online film publications. In its fifteen-year history it’s become such a standard bearer for criticism on the internet that it’s interesting to note that it didn’t actually start online. Reverse Shot began as a print magazine of around twenty pages, freely distributed to select theaters, museums, and other hubs of cinephilia in New York such as the long-gone landmark retailer Kim’s Video. In 2011, cofounding editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert looked back on their not-so-modest ambitions when they dreamed up Reverse Shot back in 2003: “The future French New Wavers had Cahiers; Andrew Sarris had the Mekas brothers’ Film Culture; Pauline Kael had the Berkeley Cinema Guild notes—what could be more romantic than manufacturing a periodical of our own?” Five issues into its run, Reverse Shot began appearing exclusively online, and in 2014, it relaunched as an official publication of New York’s Museum of the Moving Image.

While the site regularly features reviews, articles, and interviews, Reverse Shot is probably best known and admired for its symposiums, occasions for its illustrious roster of contributing writers to address topics ranging from spirituality in cinema to war movies, from editing to sound, or to reflect on the work of filmmakers such as Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Tsai Ming-liang, Jim Jarmusch, Brian De Palma, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Claire Denis, and Steven Spielberg. Two of these symposiums have become books, Martin Scorsese: He Is Cinema and CineVardaUtopia, a collection of essays on the heterogeneous oeuvre of Agnès Varda. Now, Koresky, formerly a staff writer here at Criterion and currently editorial director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Reichert, a filmmaker (Gerrymandering and, most recently, Feast of the Epiphany, codirected with Koresky and Farihah Zaman), are celebrating their publication’s fifteenth anniversary with a new symposium, “15 Rising.”

The idea this time around is to shift writers’ attention from the past work of giants to the promising films of younger directors who so far have made five features or fewer. Throughout this month and the next, Reverse Shot will be publishing appreciations of these emerging artists—fifteen in all, appropriately enough—and online so far are Julien Allen’s essay on Joanna Hogg (Archipelago), Bedatri D. Choudhury’s on Sabiha Sumar (Silent Waters), and Nadine Zylberberg’s on David Lowery (A Ghost Story). “There’s a panoply of exciting new artists out there, coming from all over the world, and there is an ascendant generation of film lovers and writers who are there for it, willing to engage and wrestle with form, with politics, with the meaning and power of the image,” write Koresky and Reichert in their introduction. “It feels like a lot of ideas are percolating around movies, and as big-budget blockbusterdom is increasingly endangered, financially and intellectually, makers of true cinema are only gaining in power.”

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