In October, Critics’ Circle members took key roles at both Kyiv Critics’ Week and London East Asia Film Festival.
For the past year, Film Section Chair Rich Cline has been working with a group of critics in Kyiv, Ukraine, partnering in the Focus section of the 6th Kyiv Critics’ Week. Each year, Kyiv’s critics invite another nation’s critic group to participate in an exchange for their festival, and they have refused to let the Russian invasion change their plans. Although the military action meant that UK critics were unable to attend the event in person, the internet allowed for live interaction.
Kyiv Critics’ Week invited the UK critics to supply a list of recent British films from with they would select three films to present at their festival. They chose Mark Jenkins’ Enys Men, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Ben Sharrock’s Limbo, which the Film Section nominated for both British/Irish Film of the Year and Breakthrough Filmmaker; and Marley Shelton’s Sweetheart, which was also up for Breakthrough Filmmaker.
Meanwhile, the Kyiv critics sent a list of recent Ukrainian films from which Film Section members would curate three films, write the programme notes, record a video introduction to the film and then conduct a live Q&A with the directors on-stage after the cinema screening. These took place in the last week of October. Cline selected Iryna Tsilyk’s Rock. Paper. Grenade. (LINK TO NOTES), which had its world premiere at the Warsaw Film Festival in October, a week before its screening in Kyiv; Film Section Secretary Karen Krizanovich chose Valentin Vasyanovych’s Reflection (LINK TO NOTES), which premiered at Venice Film Festival in 2021; and Rita Di Santo picked Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk’s Pamfir (LINK TO NOTES), which had its world premiere this year at Cannes.
“Working with our young, defiant counterparts in Kyiv over the past several months has been an inspiration,” said Cline. “Conversing live with a filmmaker in a full cinema in Kyiv, with an air-raid siren a real possibility for them, is an experience I won’t soon forget! We are happy that we have had a chance to partner with them on this festival, and thankful to the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute for funding the UK/Ukraine Focus. We plan to maintain links with these gifted critics moving forward.”
Also in October, eight members of the Film Section formed the competition jury at London East Asia Film Festival, attending the gala opening and closing night festivities and watching 16 feature films in between. The jury was headed by Rich Cline alongside Guy Lodge, James Luxford, Linda Marric, Ashanti Omkar, Katie Smith-Wong, Matthew Turner and Damon Wise.
At the opening ceremony, the critics helped present three prizes: the Actor Award to Lee Jung-Eun (Parasite), the Rising Star Award to Yim Si-Wan (Emergency Declaration) and an Honorary Award to Lee Jung-Jae (Squid Game), whose directing debut Hunt opened the festival in competition. At the closing ceremony, the jury presented three Critics’ Circle Awards: Best Film to Cao Jinling’s Anima (China), Best Documentary to Virga (Korea) by Won Ho-Yeon and Jung Tae-Kyoung, and a Special Jury Mention to Arvin Chen’s Mama Boy (Taiwan). Hong Kong actor-producer Louis Koo was given an Outstanding Achievement Award before screening his closing sci-fi action movie Warriors of Future.
Critics have been working with the London East Asia Film Festival and the event’s director Hye-Jung Jeon since its inception in 2015, sitting on juries and attending festivals throughout the region. This year’s festival marked a new level of partnership between LEAFF and the Critics’ Circle going forward, with an intention to raise awareness of East Asian films in the UK. For more information, visit leaff.org.uk