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Michel Ciment, a keen eye and a voice

French film critic Michel Ciment asks a question during a press conference for the film "A Hidden Life" at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 20, 2019. (Photo by Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP) © Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP

The great critic and writer Michel Ciment passed away yesterday at the age of 85, leaving cinema bereft of his words.

Michel Ciment was the Chief Editor of Positif magazine, the producer and host of the program Projection privée on France Culture until 2016, a critic for over fifty years on Le Masque et la Plume on France Inter and a lecturer at the University of Paris-VII. Additionally, he authored many reference books on cinema, notably on Stanley Kubrick, Elia Kazan, Joseph Losey, Francesco Rosi and Jane Campion. Michel Ciment had dedicated his life to passing on his knowledge and passion for the seventh art. A free spirit with an insatiable curiosity, he was the embodiment of cinephilia, embracing all types cinemas and never leaving any film aside.

He continued to explore world cinema right up to the end, particularly at the Cannes Film Festival, where he never missed an edition, tirelessly going from press screenings to gala screenings, pacing the Bazin, Debussy, Buñuel and Lumière theaters… His opinions, both enlightened and strong, clear-cut and inflexible, meant a great deal and his voice resounded in the corridors of the Palais des Festivals at the end of each screening, amongst his attentive colleagues. Michel set the tone, in France and abroad. His death should remind us all of the importance of his legacy, and the need for ardent and resistant film review.

The Festival de Cannes without Michel Ciment will never be quite the same. We will miss him. And so will cinema.

Harry Saltzman, Michel Ciment, Alan J. Pakula, Liv Ullmann, Franco Brusati, François Chalais, Andreï Konchalovsky, Georges Wakhevitch, Claude Goretta, Jury des longs métrages, Cannes 1978 © R. Gatti / AFP

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