• Film Creates Splash at SXSW Film Festival

3/26/2009

Aleksandar Lekic, Amy Geller and Gerald Peary teamed up to create the film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism.

Longtime film critic, arts teacher and film programmer Gerald Peary has moved to the other side of the camera to create the documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism. The film had its world premier in March at the South by Southwest Film Festival, or SXSW, in Austin, Texas. 

Peary, a professor of Communication and Journalism and author of seven books on cinema and innumerable articles, spent seven years working on the film. It was featured in SXSW’s prestigious Spotlight section alongside Spike Lee’s Passing Strange and Greg Mottola’s Superbad.

“To finally see the finished product feels like a dream,” said Peary. “The biggest reward was seeing people laughing and applauding.”

Peary directed and wrote For the Love of Movies, which was produced by his wife, Amy Geller and narrated by actress Patricia Clarkson. Peary and Geller interviewed many of America’s best-known film critics, who speak intimately and humorously on film about how and why they became reviewers. They weigh in about the rich, 100-year history of American criticism and passionately discuss the sublime and unusual movies that thrilled them and helped form their aesthetic.

“There is a severe crisis in film criticism right now,” said Peary, who, in addition to teaching, is a longtime film critic for the Boston Phoenix.  “Reviewers everywhere are losing their jobs.  Maybe this documentary can begin to turn things around.

“We felt that if audiences could get familiar with the faces and voices behind the bylines, they might actually read more criticism and take it seriously.”

Roger Ebert, who was interviewed for the documentary, responded to the film with a “thumbs up,” according to Peary. Communication and Journalism media lab coordinator Aleksandar Lekic was co-editor of the film. 

“I learned so much working with a great group of talented people,” he said.  “We had more than 200 hours of raw footage to work with, and the final product was both informative and entertaining.” 

The South by Southwest screenings marked the beginning of an extended festival run for Peary’s production.  He and his team have been invited to bring the 80-minute documentary to festivals in Mexico, Colombia, Vancouver, Hong Kong, and a number of domestic venues, including the San Francisco International Festival. For the Love of Movies will have its local premier at 7 p.m. April 27 at the Institute of Contemporary Art as a joint presentation of the ICA and the Independent Film Festival of Boston.

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