Critics Campus

Applications for Critics Campus 2023 are now closed.

The Melbourne International Film Festival Critics Campus is an intensive, week-long program of panels, workshops and mentoring designed to provide emerging Australian screen critics with a unique platform to nurture their talents in a live festival setting. Following nine highly successful editions, Critics Campus returns in 2023, taking place from Monday 7 to Friday 11 August as part of the festival’s 71st edition.

Established in 2014, Critics Campus has proved an invaluable incubator of emerging talent across the past decade, discovering and developing new voices in Australian screen criticism. As the media landscape continues to change and evolve, Critics Campus has responded in turn, driven by the idea that informed screen criticism is vital to a healthy screen culture and industry. In developing new and underrepresented voices, Critics Campus builds on its commitment to refreshing and growing the country’s critical landscape, to redefining the ways our writers consider the culture, and to preparing participants for successful careers in screen criticism and the arts.

Since its first edition nearly a decade ago, the program has grown in reputation and global reach, attracting A-list international critics, programmers and guests, and establishing a name for itself as one of the most well-regarded young critic workshops in the world. In 2023, eight selected participants will:

  • take part in mentoring sessions with eight leading Australian and international film critics
  • join a range of panels, workshops and live-editing sessions with some of the best critics – both in person and online – from around the world
  • have access to festival films, publicity materials, guests and networking opportunities at MIFF
  • be invited to attend screenings, social functions, galas and other festival events.

Head to Revue to find out more about the program – you can read part one or part two of our ‘Where Are They Now?’ series, or check out features, reviews and interviews by Critics Campus alumni.

Some of our past Critics Campus mentors have included K. Austin Collins (Rolling Stone), Guy Lodge (Variety), Daniel Kasman (MUBI), Jessica Kiang (Variety), Simran Hans (The Observer), Eric Hynes (Museum of the Moving Image), Jourdain Searles (Hollywood Reporter), Ela Bittencourt (Film Comment), Violet Lucca (Harpers), David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter), Annabel Brady-Brown (Fireflies), Anwen Crawford (The Monthly), Jake Wilson (The Age), Philippa Hawker (The Australian), Adolfo Aranjuez (MIFF, Liminal), Jason Di Rosso (ABC Radio National), Wenlei Ma (, Craig Mathieson (Sydney Morning Herald), Cher Tan (Liminal, Meanjin), Adrian Martin, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kevin B. Lee and filmmaker Charlie Shackleton. 

International guest speakers have included Justin Chang, Angelica Jade Bastién, Dennis Lim, Ashley Clark, Devika Girish, Beatrice Loayza, Kelley Dong, Hunter Harris, Nick Pinkerton, Michael Koresky, E. Alex Jung, Kristy Matheson, Shaad D’Souza, Ruun Nuur, Farihah Zaman, Zia Anger and Chloe Lizotte.

Since participating in the lab, alumni have gone on to write for The Guardian, Hollywood Reporter, Film Comment, The Saturday Paper, MUBI Notebook, Sight & Sound, Cinema Scope, Little White Lies and more – plus work for Netflix, the ABC and SBS, as screenwriters, producers and film programmers.

“Critics Campus helped me regain my confidence as a writer and opened me up to new possibilities for both my writing practice and also for my career at large. I feel very grateful to have met talented, experienced critics who gave me such helpful lifelong advice. Now I know: strong vibes + strong inquiry = great criticism.”

Lamya Nawar, 2022 alumna

“The mentors were incredible. The lessons I learnt from workshopping my writing throughout the week, I will carry with me throughout my life as a writer.”

Lily Rodgers, 2022 alumna

“As a participant in 2019, Critics Campus imparted invaluable knowledge about the craft of writing and the (often precarious) industry. As a mentor in 2021, I was glad to soak up the wisdom of a new cohort of talents!”

– Michael Sun, 2021 mentor and 2019 alumnus

“For almost 10 years now, MIFF’s Critics Campus has been the primary national forum to nurture the next generation of Australia’s screen criticism culture, and the future looks very bright indeed.”

– Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, 2021 mentor

“Having been a mentee in 2016, I was thrilled to return to Critics Campus in 2021 – this time as a mentor. I still draw on those lessons I learned about criticism and craft almost six years ago, so the chance to share them with my own mentee was deeply fulfilling, both professionally and personally.”

Aimee Knight, 2021 mentor and 2016 alumna

“This was a fantastic opportunity for me. It felt a little overwhelming, because there were so many different writers and thinkers coming from different perspectives, but it got me connected with so many people from the culture. It was a fantastic experience.”

Shaheen Ahmed, 2020 alumna

“I’m so grateful for the experience – it’s been pretty unique and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of it. It’s been great hearing from professional critics, especially other critics who are queer and people of colour.”

Merryana Salem, 2020 alumna

“The campus offers emerging voices a valuable insight into the practices of working critics. It includes a program of discussions that is the best of its kind in the country – unparalleled not just in film, but in the arts more generally.”

Jason Di Rosso, 2020 mentor

“Critics Campus was such an invaluable and formative experience for me. The program was such an encouraging, enriching experience that has no doubt shaped my writing for the better.”

Isabella Trimboli, 2022 mentor and 2019 alumna

“Critics Campus was one of the best, most wonderful experiences of my short life. It opened my mind and writing up to possibilities I never imagined, and completely re-envisioned the way I see, read and approach criticism.”

Debbie Zhou, 2018 alumna

“It was an enormous privilege and an even bigger pleasure to participate in such a well-run Critics Campus – I had such a great time pretending to inspire this exceptionally bright and promising group of new critics, while in fact learning way more from them than I ever could have imparted.”

Jessica Kiang, 2022 and 2018 mentor

“I had a fantastic week and can’t believe this program even exists. Guy [Lodge] was the most wonderful mentor and completely changed how I thought about film writing. Critics Campus was one of the best things I’ve done.”

Phoebe Chen, 2017 alumna

“It was brilliant, inspiring, well-organised and just so, so much fun. I learned loads, and it made me think a lot about my own writing practice. Definitely the best critics lab I’ve ever taken part in, as either a mentor or mentee.”

Simran Hans, 2017 mentor

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