Film Comment Begins Its Return

Detail from the cover of the November-December 1980 issue of Film Comment

Last spring, as the realization set in that this pandemic was going to be keeping us locked down for more than a few weeks, Film at Lincoln Center sent its magazine, Film Comment, on an open-ended hiatus. By the end of the year, Imogen Sara Smith was speaking for many of us when she wrote in Reverse Shot: “Compared with the loss of lives, jobs, homes, and democratic ideals, its disappearance may seem minor, but for the cinephile community, already deprived of the chance to come together in movie theaters and at film festivals, its absence hurts.” Today, FLC offers a ray of hope, announcing that, with the relaunch of its podcast and a new weekly newsletter, Film Comment is taking “a first step towards bringing the best in film criticism back to the publication’s devoted audience around the world.”

Over the summer, editor Nicolas Rapold left Film Comment after more than a decade at the magazine, and now, deputy editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute are overseeing the newsletter which will go out every Thursday before appearing on the website the following Monday. We can look forward to news, reviews, and interviews, and on Tuesdays, to new podcast episodes. In the first episode since last April, Erika Balsom and Ela Bittencourt look back on the highlights of this year’s Berlinale, discussing the new films from Hong Sangsoo, Céline Sciamma, and Pietro Marcello.

Founded in 1962, Film Comment became an essential record of the evolution of the ideas and passions that enlivened cinephilia, publishing a broad range of writers that included Andrew Sarris, Amy Taubin, Manny Farber, Robin Wood, Molly Haskell, Kent Jones, Nick Pinkerton, and Ashley Clark. Losing the magazine last year revived the pain of that moment in 2018 when the closure of the Village Voice sounded the death knell of the era of the alternative newsweekly. In 2013, Max Nelson wrote the still-definitive history of Film Comment’s first half-century, noting that, more than the story of a general-interest film magazine, it was also the story of three generations of film critics and a “messy, exhaustive” history of cinema itself. “Throughout,” wrote Nelson, “it’s the story of an idea, or maybe an ideal: that a film magazine could be contemporary and timeless; rigorous and readable; discerning and unsnobby; and smart about movies.”

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