Tag Archives: Film Festivals

José Arroyo in Conversation with Jan Jílek

I participated in the Film Festival/ Summer Film School at Uherské Hradiště this year and was bowled over by the experience. Thousands of people streaming the streets of an extraordinarily pretty town in the Czech Republic – many of them very young – arriving from all parts of the country and abroad to see films, listen to lectures, participate in discussions. The town itself contributing all of its institutional resources to make it possible. Uherské Hradiště had turned over theatres, schools, gyms, centres and every available tent to the Festival/ Summer School so that many different types of films could be screened and also so that young people can just roll out their sleeping bags and have a place to sleep. There are no searchlights, limousines or red carpets. But there is excellent programming, a pedagogic ethos, a party atmosphere, famous guests (Lav Diaz this year), and superb organisation that makes for a rich, varied and democratic experience. Everyone seemed eager to see and learn.

These are some of the reasons why I wanted to talk to Jan Jílek, Programme Director of Film Festival/ Summer Film School, Uherské Hradiště. In the podcast we talk about the roots of the festival in the Film Club Movement and its continuing connection with the Association of Czech Film Clubs (AČFK); how the festival tries to build on its heritage while also helping construct new audiences for diverse work; the changing role but continued importance of introductions and programme notes; how distinguished guests are important but how the main focus is really on the audience; we discuss the infrastructure of programming (first blocks, then sections, then films); the continuing focus on education (Lectures, Master-classes, Introductions, notes); there is also an industry stand; and we question  the Festival/School’s connection to a history/development of Czech cinema. Finally, the festival will be celebrating it’s 50th anniversary so we discuss some of the highlights of previous years and what to look for next July/August when this extraordinary event celebrates its 50th anniversary. May it long continue.


The podcast may be listened to here:



The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

José Arroyo

A Conversation with Kieron Corless


A wide-ranging conversation with Kieron Corless, Deputy Editor of Sight and Sound on the magazine itself and issues that arise from it: What is film criticism? What is good criticism? What is the changing function of criticism? How has the digital turn affected not only what cinema is and how we see it but also what film criticism is and how it is now done? How has the eco system or matrix in which  audio-visual work is produced, distributed and exhibited changed over the years, with galleries and museums displaying moving image work on one end; and perhaps Netflix on the other.

We talk about cinephilia and film culture at home and abroad; and  further discuss the importance of advocacy, particularly in relation to international films that often  get seen only in small film festivals. We agree that the online environment has immeasurably improved criticism and helped create a different way of appreciating and writing about cinema, pushing film criticism in new directions, not least the increasing importance of the video essay. It’s an exciting time.

Because I was so gobby in the podcast, I’v also added some excerpts from a workshop Kieron led at Warwick. The short one below is on Sight and Sound itself.

The longer one below is on writing film criticism in general and writing for Sight and Sound in particular. Kieron’s talk ranges from how to pitch, the writing of a draft, right up to the  submission and editing stages. Top tips from Kieron, rather choppily edited by myself. But bound to be useful and certainly interesting.


José Arroyo

In Conversation with …Ian Francis

A wide-ranging conversation with Ian Francis, founder and director of Flatpack, about cinema, community, building audiences, and developing the festival from a pop-up in a pub 12 years ago to one of the leading festivals in the UK and a cornerstone of film culture in the West Midlands. We talk about cinephilia in Birmingham, about showing films in canal boats, churches, warehouses; about programming mixed-media, animation, shorts, experimental and expanded cinema and how international art-house might now be amongst the biggest challenges; we talk about funding and about ‘Heritage’ projects, from the recent ‘Birmingham 68’ to a forthcoming project on South Asian film from the region. It was a great opportunity to discuss key aspects of culture in general and film culture in particular that, because they often take place behind the scenes, don’t often get the public airing they merit. You can listen to the podcast below.

José Arroyo

ocean's 8
The billboard Ian refers to in the chat