To write. Everybody knows how to write.

The literacy process begins in first grade.

But to provide a real viewpoint of the world make take a lifetime.

How can you distinguish between a personal viewpoint and unconsciously internalized stereotypes?

How can you distinguish your own sentiments from commonly held feelings?

How and in what way can one dare to criticize a film?

And what criteria should be used? Subjective? Objective?


In the hopes of no longer writing juvenile reviews limited to describing the plot of the film, the excellence of the actors or the beautiful scenery… we decided to invite to the 27th edition of Castellinaria, the International Young People’s Film Festival, a reference in Swiss film criticism: Christian Jungen.

The renowned editor-in-chief of the film section of Zurich’s NZZ, as well as president of the Swiss Film Critics Association and founder of the film magazine “Frame”, he will enliven the third edition of the “Film Criticism” workshop annually organized in cooperation with the Tribune des Jeunes Cinéphiles, managed by Christian Georges for the educational project.


Christian Jungen firmly believes that a critic’s viewpoint should never be tainted with the majority’s opinion. Great international acclaim should not keep a critic from expressing his viewpoint about a film, even if it should be totally the opposite of the mass critical approval of the intellectual elite. The case of Haneke, accused of misanthropy by Cahiers du cinema after winning a second Palme D’Or with Amour is an eloquent example.

What interests me most about Christian Jungen’s criticism is his use of metaphor. In one review the NZZ journalist compared a film to a soccer match, weaving the metaphorical ties between, for example, an attacker’s and an actor’s performance, or the length of a match and the plot’s structure. In his reviews freedom is the order of the day and he keeps his distance from a preset way of writing or thinking.

We will deal with different questions during the workshop and, in particular, we will try to understand when and how the verbal style of the critic has to correspond to the cinematic language used in the film described. For example, to write about a screenplay full of very long sequential takes shouldn’t one use a Proust-like style in which punctuation is rare? Or writing about a complex character or an egocentric director couldn’t one use only a very long set of adjectives? If there are experimental films, why isn’t there experimental film criticism?


But we haven’t invited Christian Jungen only to answer questions that arouse personal curiosity but also and above all to enable young people to get acquainted with new ways of writing and, familiar with them, to hone their viewpoints of film and of the world.


Workshop participants will have the chance to speak to Jungen personally and, after watching a current film, can read his criticism. The lesson consists of comparing his review with those of others on the same film, to assess the merits or harshly criticize the various pros and cons of each review.

Finally, workshop participants will have discussion with the Zurich journalist – lover of soccer and the Italian language – submitting their critical analyses to him and getting replies about style and choices.

But to understand such choices we thought it was important to include them in the context in which he works and understand what ways of writing are dictated by the newspaper, the trade magazine or even, for example, the social networks like Facebook and Twitter that impose a limited number of words.

The day ends with thought about trans-media supports that nowadays make it possible to write critiques. Christian Jungen, Christian Georges and I will talk about the substantial difference between film criticism and the language distributors use while promoting a film, especially on Internet. Showing several examples and without being excessively Manichean, we will offer thought about the current film criticism situation among young people and the most daring critics.


Therefore, paraphrasing Jean-Luc Godard, if “writing is already making a film” then using the right words for the emotions experienced is the beginning of adult knowledge.


And Castellinaria, school for living and school for film, serves this function, too.

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