Our recent symposium topics have been retrospective in nature. These included our Agnès Varda career overview (now a book); "Executive Orders," in which we chose specific older films to come to terms with the Trump Era; and the most recent iteration of our "Takes" series, in which we asked writers to isolate and examine one of film's basic properties: time. We now feel it's a good moment to look forward.
We've been publishing Reverse Shot for 15 years, and when it comes to maintaining our optimism and enthusiasm for the medium we all ostensibly love, we've had our ups and downs. But things feel hopeful as of late, both in terms of filmmaking and in film criticism. There's a panoply of exciting new artists out there, coming from all over the world, and there is an ascendant generation of film lovers and writers who are there for it, willing to engage and wrestle with form, with politics, with the meaning and power of the image. It feels like a lot of ideas are percolating around movies, and as big-budget blockbusterdom is increasingly endangered, financially and intellectually, makers of true cinema are only gaining in power.
All that is messy preface for what was perhaps one of our cleanest, most optimistic assignments for our writers to date: we asked them to pitch us an essay about a recently rising—or still underseen—filmmaker of their choosing. The filmmaker could be from anywhere in the world, and could be a creator of anything from narratives to documentaries to experimental works. The only rule: the filmmaker should have made five or less features and more than one. From there, we asked them to focus on just one of their films for a deeper reading, though they were encouraged to bring in other work as textual evidence.
Unlike some surveys of this sort, we didn't exert our editorial influence by picking the filmmakers that we wanted to champion in advance. As we always have done at Reverse Shot, we put our writers in the drivers’ seat, letting their ideas fuel this project. The result is, as we hoped, richly diverse, featuring filmmakers from all over the world: Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Pakistan, Thailand, and the U.S. are all represented, giving a good indication of where some of the most promising cinematic artistry is taking place. We were honestly unfamiliar with some of the filmmakers covered here, while others we've championed in these pages, and are in the beginning stages of what we expect will be lasting love affairs.
Coincidentally and quite fortuitously for our 15th year, we ended up with 15 essays. We’re so pleased to launch 15 Rising.