Diversity in Film Criticism: Part 2 - Candice Frederick and Kristen Lopez

by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport

Rosalie Kicks continues her exploration of some of the awesome female film critics working and writing today. Read Part 1 here.

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CANDICE FREDERICK

It is difficult to know about films you should be watching when no one is talking about them. Unfortunately, within film criticism (as with many industries), it has been dominated by a singular point of view. Candice Frederick is hoping to change this. “I think, particularly, being a woman of color as a critic/reporter is, in itself, an act of resistance because the industry still has not been welcome to people who come from different experiences and bring something different to the conversation. It's important to simply exist, in order to engage with those readers who don't feel like their experiences are being shown or uplifted. Women of color interrogate the system in a way other writers do not,” explains Candice.

Having diverse types of voices within film criticism is so important. By having a various group of critics means that concepts or ideas can be explained from several points of view which, in turn, helps audiences to best understand cultures or ideas that may be foreign to them. Criticism offers an outlet for viewers to turn to when they are looking for insight into why certain story choices were made, why characters acted in the way they did, or to simply comprehend what was witnessed. Critics have the opportunity to create conversation and hold filmmakers accountable for the stories they put on the screen. Candice is a voice within film criticism that often goes unheard and she hopes that her writing can spark a discussion. “I come from a journalism background and have a journalism degree. I always knew I would be a writer because I wanted to connect with people across the world and engage in a conversation that interrogates and excites readers across the globe on issues that matter to them when it comes to the screen,” says Candice.

Q&A with Film Critic, Candice Frederick:

RK: What is it that you love about film?

CF: How it interrogates or reflects culture in a profound way.

RK: Who is a female reporter you admire that is portrayed in film? Fictional or historical.

CF: I have two. The first one is clichéd, but I'm going to say it anyway: Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City, because she dares to write boldly and explicitly about a taboo topic. The second one is Mary Tyler Moore, because she shows that women in the male-dominated newsroom can embody both vulnerability and power without compromising themselves in the process.

RK: As a film critic what are you hoping your reader walks away with?

CF: I always want them to continue the conversation on their own, but I am thrilled when they want to engage with me about it.

RK: Who's your favorite female filmmaker?

CF: Mira Nair, Mary Harron, and Kasi Lemmon come to mind. They defy what you expect from women behind the camera and remain true to the stories they want to tell.

RK: Where's your favorite cinema to see a film?

CF: I love the Angelika theater in New York because it's the epitome of old school, artsy, independent NYC. It celebrates individuality and purpose.

RK: Pay it forward: Recommend a female film writer/critic/podcaster/reporter that you personally follow…

CF: Yolanda Machado (@SassyMamainLA).

Candice writes for various outlets. You can find her writings here: candicefrederick.contently.com
Follow Candice on T
witter @ReelTalker.

 

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KRISTEN LOPEZ                                                   

Like your favorite old sport, Kristen Lopez is a classic film nerd that got her start in writing at her high school’s newspaper. “I knew in high school I was different when it came to movies. When I took over my high school newspaper's film column I found that the movies I was reviewing tended to get me praise from my teachers, whereas the students couldn't have cared less about the indie film coming to the local theater. I'm sure some part of me enjoyed lording my superiority and wide vocabulary over the masses. Another part of me just loved movies and wanted to share what I thought was worth putting your money towards. As I've gotten older I've realized there are no other critics like me - I'm physically disabled - and that compels me to give my perspective even more,” states Kristen.

Kristen is compelled to not only share her love of cinema with you but also has made it her mission to save viewers from wasting their hard-earned dollars on films that are simply looking for that cash grab. “Life is too short to waste watching bad movies. On the surface, all film critics are fans of cinema, no matter what the naysayers think. We want to share our love of cinema and weed out the movies just looking for your money. Or at least that's my goal,” explains Kristen.

However, for Kristen it is more than just trying to save your eyeballs from witnessing a bad film. Using criticism Kristen is able to comment on the way in which characters are portrayed, specifically characters with a disability. “I've made it my goal over the last year to discuss why films about characters with disabilities are so offensive to real disabled people. Too often, able-bodied friends and critics will say my work has forced them to re-watch movies with an eye towards disabled representation, and I think that's truly the next big wave of us asking "How is it still okay to perpetuate these stereotypes in cinema?" says Kristen.

Being able to help people see films differently is something that resonates with Kristen and why she finds criticism so important. “Helping people look at movies in a different way. The most obvious would be telling readers why a movie like Me Before You is so dangerous to disabled people, or how certain disabled movies are obviously written by a person who doesn't know anything about wheelchairs. Because disabled people are still so marginalized, having a critic take a film and present a wholly unique way of seeing a different perspective is so vital.”

Q&A with Film Critic, Kristen Lopez:

RK: What is it that you love about film?  

KL: I'm tempted to quote Russell Hammond from Almost Famous and say, "to begin, everything" but that would be disingenuous. In terms of film itself, I love the history. I'm a big reader of film biographies and historical narratives and I love being swathed in the elegance and glamour of Hollywood. I watch a lot of classic cinema and the grace and beauty, the fantasy of everything, still draws me in. It's probably why musicals are my favorite genre. But also, as a disabled person I think films allowed me an outlet that I could discuss my opinions and people felt we were equals. That's another component - the communal atmosphere of films. I know we all grouse about Film Twitter and the horrors of being a woman online, but I love discussing movies with people, sharing our favorites, stars, etc.

RK: Who is a female reporter you admire that is portrayed in film? Fictional or historical.

KL: In terms of pure entertainment value I have to say Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone in To Die For. She's gorgeous, manipulative and a mess of fun to watch. But for serious journalistic integrity, I have to give it to Jane Fonda's Kimberly Wells in 1979's The China Syndrome. She's underestimated at every turn because she's a woman, yet she perseveres - partly because she's Jane Fonda.

RK: Where's your favorite cinema to see a film and what's your favorite concession?

KL: I attend the TCM Classic Film Festival every year and there's something so amazing about seeing a movie at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre (yes, I know it's now the TCL but it's Grauman's to me). The magnificent opulence of the theater, and knowing so many legendary films were shown there just adds an extra level to whatever your watching. In terms of concessions, I'm an M&Ms girl. I need to have the chocolate rush going through me.

RK: Pay it forward: Recommend a female film writer/critic/podcaster that you love to follow...

KL: I'm a big fan of Valerie Complex of Black Girl Nerds. Valerie actually used to live in my town and she was someone whose opinion I loved, and I was so sad when she moved. Thankfully, we keep in touch and the work she's been doing is so fresh. She's a needed voice in film criticism! Follow Valerie on Twitter @ValerieComplex.

Kristen writes for numerous outlets such as Remezcla, Culturess, Birth.Movies.Death, The Hollywood Reporter, and TCM Backlot. You can find all of her writings and reviews at  medium.com/@kristenlopez. Follow Kristen on Twitter @Journeys_Film.