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TALENT PRESS 2013: Ariel Esteban Cayer

I like the idea of a critic as a writing-inclined cinephile, using the exercise as an excuse to get smarter; to frame film consumption within a process of active investigation, research and potential (self-)discovery.


Ariel Esteban Cayer

The idea that films can be shaped, broken down, (re)appropriated and/or elucidated by words is one of the main appeals to anyone willing to call themselves critics. Positioning my own writing as the natural result of a voracious, exploratory cinephilia that spills out in all directions and needs to be made sense of by writing, I have embraced criticism as, primarily, a form of celebration. Celebration of a medium, its ideas and aesthetics, its auteurs and actors, but also of the written word and how it can help towards examining the medium. And if discerning enough, I hope that the act of criticism can result in recommendation, or careful warning; never, if rarely, condemnation. Furthermore, I like the idea of a critic as a writing-inclined cinephile, using the exercise as an excuse to get smarter; to frame film consumption within a process of active investigation, research and potential (self-)discovery. Much like leaving a note to give back to the images that shape us, to turn the unilateral act of film-watching into a dialogue that people can choose to latch on to if they so choose. It’s a never-ending process – most complex in that it is concerned with both the past, the future and, if time and energy permits, all geographical spaces.

Indeed, as a cinephile living in a privileged moment in history, as well as a in a comfortable, if geographically unremarkable place, nearly everything is available to me through well-curated festivals, physical media, file-sharing and so on. For that reason, I have a difficult time situating myself as a specifically Canadian critic. While Québec cinema is unique in that it is somewhat of a fascinating anomaly in North American cinema, francophone to begin with and, perhaps, more “European” in essence than most national cinemas in this part of the world, it does not particularly shape my long-term task as writer – it representing only a small part of a world of cinema I’ve barely begun exploring. Surely, international trends, critical darlings and acclaimed examples of national cinemas from elsewhere will always manage to evade me, but if they do, it will be because of my own failings as an investigator. The stuff is out there, I just have to know to go get it.


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