As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
she is keeping a diary exclusively for this web site
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The Critic

The Rivera Murals

The Casa Azul


Festival Screening

The Trotsky Museum


Profound Mexico


Rain on canvas

The Jury

The Anthropological Museum


Political Correctness

Two Houses

False Virtue

Life is a miracle

Weird Roots

The Meeting

Turtles Can Fly

The Oscars

Luis Barragans house

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The Critic

I am to serve on the jury of the fiction film competition and, as I will arrive a few days late, I am watching some of the films in advance on tape, mostly late at night. I also learn that attending the festival is a critic who wrote a nasty review about my work. It was a very personal attack, and so I am a little apprehensive about how to handle the inevitable encounters.

This raises a bigger question, one that has puzzled me, and many other film-makers, writers and artists. It is something we discuss in private but rarely feel able to air in public. There is no ‘reply’ to critics, even those who willfully misread a film. The review cannot be reviewed; it is not part of a dialogue, it is a judgement , often written under pressure in an hour or so, where a film has taken years. The power given to sometimes careless critics is totally disproportionate to the merit of their views; a bad review can ‘kill’ a film.

In the old Russian method of film criticism critics trained at film school for four years alongside those training to become directors, screen writers and cinematographers. This method produced great critics such as Maya Tourevskaya (who has written several books on Tarkovsky). Her writing suggests that she sees her function as an intermediary between the work and the public; someone who carefully unravels the layers of meaning in a film, decodes some of its formal secrets; makes sense of the difficult or the obscure by putting its riddles in a historical and aesthetic context.

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Maya Touresvkaya (right) with Sian Thomas, c.1986

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated