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kenmorefield

2015 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

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It looks like you handled that just right; good job. (I've worked with Rodrigo before, I'm glad that you got through to him.)

Something for us all to think about, not just Colin, is that if we want to institutionalize the jury (make it a regular thing), we should probably write out mission statement, policies and procedures, etc. Right now I'm making it up as we go along.

Particularly as it pertains to screeners, some of the marketers, particularly indies, as Colin has found out, handle things in house. Some studios handle outsource. I've spoken to our screener point person at NCFCA, and he says the major accreditation group begins asking him for member lists in early to mid October. (That company is responding to studio requests for screening lists.) If jurors want/hope for more screeners, the number one thing we should do is form earlier so that we have member roster to provide to publicists who ask. 

The down side might be that some jurors don't want to think about it in early October. Others may have access to screeners via other methods (past contact, membership in critics' associations) or have seen things theatrically. Thus far its made more sense to put the onus on the individual critic to approach the reps they want. But sometimes (as Colin probably has already found out or may still find out), the individual critics can be told, "we prefer to hear from *one* person in your group rather than get a dozen messages from different members."

In the NCFCA, we have an appointed member whose job it is to collect and maintain the roster (including address for UPS/Fedex) and e-mail and to deal with any marketing reps. (There's actually two of us, because sometimes one of us gets an inquiry from a publicist asking for a roster and it's easier to give it to her than to refer her to the other officer.) That sounds like something Colin might be good at if we go forward in subsequent years. It's actually a little late in the year to try to institute that this year. 

I agree with all of this, Ken. For a few reasons:

1. Publicists always seem happy to share screeners/links with juries because that is a really big bang for the advertising buck.

2. When my plate is as full as it is this year, I don't have as much time to run through my publicist list every month and request titles. It would be extremely helpful to have this process start earlier so I could better ensure I am watching comprehensively.

3. Starting a bit earlier (October really is not that early) will lead to a more robust, thoughtful voting process.

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In thinking about mission and purpose of the group (see above), I would like to put in my two cents that one of the things I value about this jury and hope it will accomplish is to model open and respectful critical dialogue

I say that not because anyone has violated that spirit here or last year, though we've occasionally had problems at A&F in the past with vociferous disagreement. Mostly though that mission is part of why I like the notion in bringing jury under the IMAGE/A&F banner that the deliberations are a bit more transparent. 

It is an issue that extends far beyond A&F, but one might make the argument that there is a predisposition in Internet communication and criticism towards snark or other forms of agonism. (See Tannens' THE ARGUMENT CULTURE.) It is hard for anyone, but I think this group (both A&F as a whole and the jury that is a subset of it) is uniquely gifted to engage in and model polite, respectful, substantive *conversation* about matters we hold important: art, faith, criticism, etc. 

Again, I'm not saying anyone is not doing this--I just wanted to put it out there in thinking about jury selection and value and mission, that this element of it--the process--is as important to me as the end product--the final list.

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Has anyone seen Twinsers? It got good buzz at SXSW when I was there, but I didn't screen it. I see it is now streaming on Netflix in USA? Any impressions from jurors good or bad?

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It's fantastic having Lauren, Alissa, Colin, and Noel on this board, and I hope the conversations continue well beyond this jury. I, too, like a smaller jury, yet the diversity allowed within a 15-18 member group is really beneficial. The range of theological, geographic, age, and vocation represented by this present jury is also worth noting.

Also, should there be a thread for discussing and promoting the films we've nominated, akin to the Top 25 and Top 100 lists? Or can we have that conversation within this thread without it becoming confusing or overwhelming. Because everyone should see World of Tomorrow.

Joel, do you have any thoughts about how the votes should be tabulated?

Key issue, in summary, is that we don't want too many films to be ineligible because not enough jurors have seen them. Ways of avoiding that are:

a) Limitations on jurors -- juror can only serve if he/she has seen a minimum number of nominees. (This appears to be a non-starter, since it might eliminate jurors we would like to have for the reasons summarized above.

b] Lower the eligibility threshold for films -- last year we started with criteria that a film needed only a second to be nominated but had to appear on at least 1/2 the ballots (be seen by at least 6 of the 12 jurors in order to appear on final list). That was changed at the last minute to 5 of 12 to resolve a voting problem regarding having enough eligible films. The upside of this is it allows us to be more inclusive in inviting having jurors who are unable to devote the requisite time to see an admittedly high number of films year round or in silly season. The downside is that it tends to disproportionately *favor* films that people can't see, since people who seek out a hard-to-find film are more likely to rate it higher. Not sure we want to put a film on a list that has only been seen by 5 of 15 jurors and maybe only is rated highly by 1 or 2. (A film that gets five 5s and six 4s is more deserving, in my opinion, than a film that gets, two 5s and two 4s, in my opinion, even though the latter has a slightly higher numerical average.)
c) Floated the idea of allowing all jurors to vote, regardless of how many they have seen, but only counting the votes towards the list of the 12 ballots that have seen the highest percentage of nominated films. Upside is it's more inclusive for jury members; downside is it sends message to some jury members that your votes don't count.)
d) We could, I suppose, use the average score on the ballot as a guideline rather than a hard/fast rule. That is, we could give the foreman (me) the right to tweak the list based on the results rather than trying to adjudicate the threshold in advance. That's what we did last year, but I was more comfortable allowing myself that perogative since that is that the CT editor did back in the day that the "Critic's Choice" was a CT thing and also because, since the jury was, essentially, a Ken property last year, I could make up the rules as I went along. I want to be sensitive to the fact now that I was appointed/invited to this role (foreman) but that's a little different than it being my show.

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Alissa asked whether Last Days in the Desert is a 2015 film or a 2016 film. The non-answer to that is that the film has played in a smattering of festivals in 2015 but isn't slated to get an actual *release* until 2016. So depending on whether we go by release dates or festival dates...

FWIW, The Lobster (which I saw at VIFF) is currently set to come to Vancouver in "Spring 2016". I have no idea about the rest of the country.

kenmorefield wrote:
: IMDB lists [Song of the Sea] as November 2014 release at AFI in US and September in Canada.

FWIW, I believe that film might have played at an animation festival here in 2014, but it didn't get an actual release in Vancouver until this year (I saw it in February).

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I may have missed this, but I thought we were using the NY screening rule to determine eligibility. Is that still the case?

No. The tentative declaration was a film that had *either* a festival, theatrical or first time DVD release in either the US or Canada in 2015. 

Thus The Lobster would be eligible to be nominated, though (based on last year) it is unlike to be seen by enough critics to qualify for the Top 10 list. This means (as seen above) that a film might be eligible to be nominated two  or even three years in a row. (Mike Newell's Great Expectations played at TIFF and got an English release the next year and an American release the year after.) 

Still, as seen above and last year, there may be reasons for nominating a film you suspect will not be seen by those outside festival circuit until next year. As with La Sapienza and Winter Sleep, last year's nomination put the films on the radar of jurors who may have sought them out earlier in the year and are more prepared to vote on it this year than they were last year or if they were only now hearing of the movie for the first time.

The D'Angelo is unofficially used by some critics' groups (OFCS/NCFCA) as a "reminder" list to critics, since those without a film diary or letterboxd may forget what they have seen (or didn't get around to seeing early in  the year.)

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In thinking about mission and purpose of the group (see above), I would like to put in my two cents that one of the things I value about this jury and hope it will accomplish is to model open and respectful critical dialogue.

...

It is hard for anyone, but I think this group (both A&F as a whole and the jury that is a subset of it) is uniquely gifted to engage in and model polite, respectful, substantive *conversation* about matters we hold important: art, faith, criticism, etc. 

Yes. This.

It's fantastic having Lauren, Alissa, Colin, and Noel on this board, and I hope the conversations continue well beyond this jury. I, too, like a smaller jury, yet the diversity allowed within a 15-18 member group is really beneficial. The range of theological, geographic, age, and vocation represented by this present jury is also worth noting.

Also, should there be a thread for discussing and promoting the films we've nominated, akin to the Top 25 and Top 100 lists? Or can we have that conversation within this thread without it becoming confusing or overwhelming. Because everyone should see World of Tomorrow.

Joel, do you have any thoughts about how the votes should be tabulated?

Key issue, in summary, is that we don't want too many films to be ineligible because not enough jurors have seen them. Ways of avoiding that are:

a) Limitations on jurors -- juror can only serve if he/she has seen a minimum number of nominees. (This appears to be a non-starter, since it might eliminate jurors we would like to have for the reasons summarized above.

b] Lower the eligibility threshold for films -- last year we started with criteria that a film needed only a second to be nominated but had to appear on at least 1/2 the ballots (be seen by at least 6 of the 12 jurors in order to appear on final list). That was changed at the last minute to 5 of 12 to resolve a voting problem regarding having enough eligible films. The upside of this is it allows us to be more inclusive in inviting having jurors who are unable to devote the requisite time to see an admittedly high number of films year round or in silly season. The downside is that it tends to disproportionately *favor* films that people can't see, since people who seek out a hard-to-find film are more likely to rate it higher. Not sure we want to put a film on a list that has only been seen by 5 of 15 jurors and maybe only is rated highly by 1 or 2. (A film that gets five 5s and six 4s is more deserving, in my opinion, than a film that gets, two 5s and two 4s, in my opinion, even though the latter has a slightly higher numerical average.)
c) Floated the idea of allowing all jurors to vote, regardless of how many they have seen, but only counting the votes towards the list of the 12 ballots that have seen the highest percentage of nominated films. Upside is it's more inclusive for jury members; downside is it sends message to some jury members that your votes don't count.)
d) We could, I suppose, use the average score on the ballot as a guideline rather than a hard/fast rule. That is, we could give the foreman (me) the right to tweak the list based on the results rather than trying to adjudicate the threshold in advance. That's what we did last year, but I was more comfortable allowing myself that perogative since that is that the CT editor did back in the day that the "Critic's Choice" was a CT thing and also because, since the jury was, essentially, a Ken property last year, I could make up the rules as I went along. I want to be sensitive to the fact now that I was appointed/invited to this role (foreman) but that's a little different than it being my show.

With a larger jury comes a larger set of nominations, and issues could arise due to a lack of seeing a certain percentage of the nominated films. According to the present list of jurors, we have 13-15 jurors. I resonate with your "b" suggestion--a lower eligibility for number of jurors who have seen films, yet still some threshold of views a film needs to achieve in order to be considered, as well as a threshold of films the juror needs to have viewed in order to vote. I'd suggest a lower threshold than 50% for the latter; perhaps a juror needs to see only 40-45% of films? I'm not sure allowing allowing *all* jurors to vote regardless of films seen (your "c" suggestion) would be helpful because it'd lean the results towards more *accessible* films than *good* ones. I say this as someone who likely hasn't seen as many films as the majority of jurors here, as I don't receive screeners and didn't attend any festivals this year...and my wife had a baby, grad school, etc. etc. I do think inclusivity and diversity matters for such a list. Looking at the present list of nominations, I've seen 22/41, which is well over a 40% minimum. Any other thoughts or input, especially regarding inclusivity or minimum number of films seen?

Last year, I also appreciated having each juror's "honorable mention," which allowed for individual personalities to point to films that weren't included.

I do think having someone as the head of the jury would be helpful as a point person for shaping and taking responsibility for the final list, someone make the "tough calls" if necessary regarding votes and jurors. Ken, you did an excellent job last year at keeping jurors informed, as well as making this a fair, fun, and engaging process. That responsibility doesn't necessarily have to fall to you each year, if this were to continue as an annual list. If this list did continue (and I hope it would), creating some clear structure for next year--including the excellent suggestion of contacting publicists and getting screeners for jury members--would prevent this from becoming solely the Ken show (a good show, tbh, but a lot of responsibility for one person).

Edited by Joel Mayward

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We might be getting confused in language. The a) suggestion is about how many films a juror needs to see to be eligible for the jury The b] suggestion is about how many jurors need to have seen the film for the film to be eligible. (I think your subsequent comments clarify that, but I was confused at the beginning.) With 15 jurors, a plurality would be 8, so maybe we *tentatively* say 7 but give me some licences to adjust that threshold after voting if a substantial number of the nominees don't make that threshold.

 

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We might be getting confused in language. The a) suggestion is about how many films a juror needs to see to be eligible for the jury The b] suggestion is about how many jurors need to have seen the film for the film to be eligible. (I think your subsequent comments clarify that, but I was confused at the beginning.) With 15 jurors, a plurality would be 8, so maybe we *tentatively* say 7 but give me some licences to adjust that threshold after voting if a substantial number of the nominees don't make that threshold.

I believe we're on the same page. In my comments, I found it difficult to distinguish between "number of films needed to be seen" vs. "how many jurors have seen the film." You summarized it well.

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The following request is a lot of work, so I won't be mad if nobody volunteers. While I don't think it necessary to have a link/notice in the list of nominated films to Netflix or whatever, I would find it helpful to have links in the list of nominated films (second message on page 1) to the film-specific thread at A&F, if there is one. 

If anyone is willing to do that--create a post with the current list of nominees (second message on page 1 of this thread) that has links to A&F thread for discussion, I will cut and paste it into the official slot and then add links as new films are seconded. That way, if a juror wants to know more about the film before deciding to screen it, he/she can at least see what other A&F members have discussed about it.

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Bond Influence just sent us screeners for (Dis)honesty - The Truth About Lies. If you did not get one, please check your SPAM folder as sometimes these mass mailers go to spam. 

For critics' association, I just got from dishworld screeners for Armor of Light and Kurt Cobain, both of which I believe have been nominated but not seconded If anyone wants the contact information to reach out to them, let me know.

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Hey folks,

I was able to get in contact with publicists for screeners of Stations of the Cross, Listen to Me Marlon, The Look of Silence, and 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets. If you want contact information to get them, let me know. (I'm waiting to hear from Magnolia and Kino Lorber.)

Laura Kim from Participant, the distributor of The Look of Silence and 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, asked me for the roster for our jury. Ken, do you have a master list of emails for all of us? Or should everyone just reply with their email or email me their contact info? However I get that info, I'll send it to Laura and she will mass email the screener links. 

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I second Room.

Regarding A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, according to IMDB it was released in US theaters in 2014, and via the Internet in 2015.

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I liked A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, I'm just not sure I liked it enough to nominate it or make a case for it.

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From Gareth Higgins: 
I'm nominating the following & would be grateful if you would post:

 
2014 releases I saw in 2015
Selma
Mr Turner
Leviathan
Inherent Vice
 
2015 releases
SHOW ME A HERO - not a movie, but better than almost everything else I saw this year, and Jonathan Rosenbaum nominates TV on his lists too so I'm in good company :)
Learning to Drive
Meet the Patels
99 Homes (Already nominated)
Jimmy’s Hall
The Walk (Actually a second)
Grandma
45 Years (already nominated)
Room (actually a second, but wasn't when he nominated).

Gareth, has put our broad definition of inclusions--a festival, theatrical, or first-time DVD release in 2015--to the test, and I suspected SELMA would be the film that had the best shot of all of them to merit serious consideration. Ultimately, it is up to each juror to decide how much she or he cares about whether we voted on it last year, whether seeing it last year (if it he/she did) affects how enthusiastic he/she is about voting for it again. In my mind, each of those was a 2014 movie--and I already honored Selma by putting it on my Top 10 list last year. The studio tried to time the Oscar market and ended up missing a couple of critics' groups. Still, if it gets on the ballot--it *is* eligible, I'd be conflicted. I will say this as a foreman--jurors are free to apply personal criteria to their rankings, and if you feel they are 2014 films that ought not to be eligible or that you would prefer not appear on the list, that is a legitimate reasons for abstaining (perhaps you didn't see it in 2015, it's too distant to remember) or rate it lower. 

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I think that films that got a wide/limited US release in 2014 should probably not be eligible, and that would include Gareth's suggestions there. I think the conversation needs to move forward from those, or the list might end up looking confused.

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I feel the same way. I consider those four films (Selma, Mr. Turner, Leviathan, and Inherent Vice) to be last year's releases, and I included (or didn't) them in my year end list then. I find it especially difficult considering all those films were nominated for year end awards and Oscars last year. Which also makes me hesitant regarding Song of the Sea, to be honest.

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I don't remember much conversation about SotS last year, but if it was considered for such lists in 2014 then perhaps I should rethink it. It received a release that included Seattle in the spring, but I'm willing to concede on it if more people think of it as a 2014 thing.

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