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The pandemic almost ended Film Comment. Now it’s back in a new form

Bong Joon Ho

Film at Lincoln Center, which puts on the New York Film Festival that hosted Bong Joon Ho in 2019 at Beale Theater in New York City, also publishes Film Comment.
(Theo Wargo / Getty Images)

One of the early media casualties of the pandemic was the “indefinite hiatus” of Film Comment, the long-running magazine beloved by serious film fans published by Film at Lincoln Center.

Nearly one year later, the New York City-based organization has announced the first steps toward the publication’s return, with the revival of the Film Comment podcast and the launch of a weekly digital newsletter. The first new episode of the podcast is available now and the newsletter will launch this spring.

The new efforts will be led by co-deputy editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute, who both joined the Film Comment team in 2019 under then Editor in chief Nicolas Rapold, who departed last summer. A search for a senior editorial leadership position will begin sometime in the future.

“Devika and I are excited and proud to be a part of bringing Film Comment back from hiatus,” said Krute in a statement. “For nearly 60 years, the magazine has played a central role in shaping the critical conversation, and we are honored to continue that legacy.”

“The Film Comment Podcast has long been one of the magazine’s favorite ways to connect with its audience,” said Girish in a statement. “During our hiatus, we heard from readers that they dearly missed its commentary, particularly as the film and cultural landscape underwent major changes. So we’re thrilled to begin Film Comment’s return with the podcast. And with the Letter, we’re excited to do what the magazine does best: share smart writing by its excellent contributors.”

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Founded in 1962 and published since 1973 by Film at Lincoln Center (known until 2019 as the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Film Comment became a venerated outlet for both established writers and up-and-coming critics. The magazine was recognized during its recent hiatus with a special film heritage award from the National Society of Film Critics, who noted the publication “has long been the most substantial and wide-ranging American film magazine.” (Full disclosure: This reporter worked at Film Comment from 1997-2001.)

Besides publishing Film Comment, Film at Lincoln Center produces the New York Film Festival, runs the Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, puts on the New Directors/New Films series.

FLC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 and has been an important launching pad in America for many filmmakers through the years, from François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Martin Scorsese to Wong Kar Wai, Noah Baumbach, Kelly Reichardt, Bong Joon Ho and Céline Sciamma. The largely virtual 2020 edition of the New York Film Festival included “Nomadland,” “Time,” “French Exit,” “On the Rocks” and three of the five films from Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology. Though movie theaters have begun to reopen in New York City, the venues of Film at Lincoln Center remain closed.

“We are so thrilled to bring Film Comment back!” said publisher Eugene Hernandez, deputy executive director of FLC and director of the NYFF, in a statement. “It has been such a challenging year and although so much remains uncertain, we know that there has been a glaring absence in our film community without Film Comment’s essential critical voice. In the coming months, we’ll continue to expand our efforts as FLC’s operations resume.”

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