Oct 7, 2023

This is the Season


                                            Cameroonian Writer-Director Rosine Mbakam

 Every August and September, film critics are either in Toronto or New York City (or both) for the busiest and most important season for movies. The Toronto Film Festival is the largest in the world by attendance, and while The New York Film Festival is much more intimate, it has grown into an equally prestigious venue for filmmakers. This year the press corps seemed much larger, and for the first time different films were screening at the same time at the festival. 

Most of us attend dozens of screenings, but because critics are also interviewing filmmakers and/or reviewing films on deadline during the festival, it's almost impossible to see all the films we want to see. I am a film columnist for Ambassador, a D.C.-based magazine and have been for over 20 years, but I am also a freelance critic, and film festival press credentials mean a great deal to me and to others who are not on the staff of newspapers and magazines. 

For me, it is a season I look forward to each year. TIFF is terrific, but there is a special quality to the New York Film Festival. It's my hometown, and each year I catch up with NYFF regulars, former college professors, other film critics, and writers who are not necessarily professionals, but whose viewpoints I always want to hear because they are fans, or because they have specialized knowledge. I have one friend who knows everything about Asian films, and another whose encyclopedic memory allows him to immediately name several films that resemble a new movie we have screened. This year, waiting on line (yes, critics and industry do have to wait on line) I met a playwright who had a Broadway debut this year.

It's New York, and you never know who you will meet in the ladies room. Many years ago, it was Nicole Kidman. She is as beautiful as she looks onscreen. 

Here is a link to my interview with Rosine Mbakam, a Cameroonian filmmaker whose "Mambar Pierrette" screens this weekend: https://www.allarts.org/2023/10/mambar-pierrette/