A crisis in film criticism does not exist, as film criticism has never been in such a vibrant, healthy state, and should really be reconfigured as a crisis signalling the end of modern media (e.g., the newspaper, the alt-weekly). When Cinema Scope was founded 13 years ago, the need for a printed fulcrum around which Canadian-based film criticism of the international variety could rotate was, to me, painfully obvious. It’s less so today, but we persist, perhaps out of inertia, certainly not for profit—I remain disappointed with the number of subscribers to the hard copy of this magazine, which includes twice as many articles as you’re reading online—but out of the love that we have for cinema.

So to commemorate 50 issues, I came up with the silly (not stupid) idea of deciding on the best 50 filmmakers currently working under the age of 50 (or the top, or the greatest—I’ve spent far too much time pondering this silly adjective). I’m anticipating heaps of criticism for this in the blogosphere, but I hope this leads to a little discussion outside of the pages of this magazine, and provides a snapshot of where cinema finds itself today. To be clear, these are not my favourite 50 filmmakers; there are a few that I would have preferred to be on there (sorry guys and gals), but the foibles of the real world intervened. Just like consigning films to calendar years, putting together 50 Under 50 creates an arbitrary line in the sand—40 Under 40 would be more daring, but I missed out on that one, and I’m certainly no ageist—yet it’s still a gamble. Some writers perceived the task as a chance to place bets as to who will be around, say, 20 years from now. (Certainly this magazine won’t, but if it does, I promise 100 Over 100, even if it’s 80 pages on a 123-year-old Manoel de Oliveira.)

This list also represents a contemporary Cinema Scope canon, as those filmmakers who make up the 50 Under 50 should be familiar to regular readers (24 filmmakers on the list have been interviewed in previous issues). The list was compiled in consultation with our regular stable of writers, who were allowed to approach their choices with complete freedom; it was also important for me to have 50 contributors, some of whom played significant past roles and have moved along, or have been too busy to write recently. Same goes for filmmakers, whose views are essential to any discussion on cinema, so extra special thanks to Denis Côté, James Benning, Ben Rivers, Raya Martin, Alex Ross Perry, Albert Serra, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who has kindly provided two original paintings of his choice, Lucrecia Martel, which you can find in the magazine in full glorious colour.

Just as crucially, the 50 Under 50 is herein subsumed within a regular issue of Cinema Scope proper, and I wanted this one to start off with a feature-length piece relating to issues in contemporary film criticism. Well, luckily J. Hoberman got fired. There are also other historical features, the usual columns, essays on the latest festival films (including some crazy thoughts on 50 Under 50 member Miguel Gomes’ Berlin-standout Tabu, which provides the striking cover art for this issue), though Currency for now continues on a weekly basis over at Cinema Scope Online. And, if you have this in your hands, you’ll notice a significant upgrade to the print quality and design. Hope we’ve got the cash to keep it going for a little while longer. Vive le Cinema Scope libre! And people, once again, it’s two words. Why is it so difficult?

Mark Peranson


A different version of this editorial appears in the print version, which contains all the articles listed in the table of contents, looks really good, and you should all buy it.

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From the Magazine

  • Cinema Scope 83 Table of Contents

    Interviews *DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World, by Jordan Cronk The Land Demands Your Effort: C.W Winter (and Anders Edström) on The More →

  • The Land Demands Your Effort: C.W Winter (and Anders Edström) on The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin)

    Though the process of watching the onset of life’s end yields gut-wrenching moments, some recorded, some reconstructed, it makes little sense to extract one scene from the whole picture, as the film’s ultimate strength lies in its refusal to privilege, well, anything: an image of a tree means as much as a visit to an onsen, three people walking in the dark, a farmer hoeing her land, or a black screen with no image at all, only an intricately composed soundscape (as the quote introducing the film reads, “Until the moment you are dead you can still hear”). Make no mistake: though mortality is front and centre, this is a salute to the possibilities provided by cinema, a celebration of life. More →

  • DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World

    At the press conference for the premiere of DAU. Natasha at this year’s Berlinale, director Ilya Khrzhanovsky pre-empted questions regarding the controversial methods involved in the realization of his 14-year passion project—collectively known as DAU—by contrasting the experiences of his actors with the everyday lives of their Soviet-era characters. “All the feelings [depicted in the film] are real,” he said, “but the circumstances are not real in which these feelings happen. More →

  • The Math of Love Triangles: Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Trigonometry

    The most arresting image in the new BBC Studios series Trigonometry (airing in the US this summer on HBO Max and in Canada on CBC Gem) comes in the fifth episode, when restaurateur Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira), in the middle of a difficult Nordic honeymoon getaway with her new husband Kieran (Gary Carr), goes on an evening field trip to see the Northern Lights. As Kieran sulks back at the hotel, she gazes up at a display that imbues the uncanny sensation—for the character, as well as the audience—of a planetarium-show special effect despite its you-are-there authenticity. More →

  • In Search of the Female Gaze

    The trope of a woman removing her glasses to suddenly reveal her great beauty is as familiar as it is eye-roll-inducing. She never looks that different, but her status as an erotic object changes immediately and immensely. A classic example is Dorothy Malone as a bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep (1946), but more recently there is Rachel Leigh Cook descending the stairs to the saccharine sounds of “Kiss Me” in She’s All That (1999). Give up your active gaze, this convention seems to say, and you will be alluring. More →