It's always a bit fascinating when we hear filmmakers extol other filmmakers, in part because it's infrequent and in part because it's such a unique perspective on cinematic merit. Hearing what film critics make of movies is a weekly occurrence, but getting a filmmaker's thoughts on the best films of the year is all too uncommon.
Praise from filmmakers is more interesting to readers than praise from critics.
This is understandable - having one's thoughts on cinema published was once a vestige occupied only by critics for print publications - but in the internet era, there's really no barrier stopping filmmakers (or anyone else, for that matter) from commenting on movies as often as they'd like to.
These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw that Joe Swanberg (who most recently directed Drinking Buddies and All the Light in the Sky) had contributed a Top 10 Films list for 2013 to Esquire Magazine. Few filmmakers have played as crucial a role as Swanberg in recent years in creating a sense of a cinema community - he often casts other filmmakers, and equally often acts for other directors - and I wasn't surprised to find that most of his choices were films that were underappreciated during the year (or at least during Top 10 season).
By picking so many films that deserved more exposure than they received in 2013 - Short Term 12, Computer Chess, A Teacher, among others - Swanberg used a national platform to raise the profile of films that merit a boost, as opposed to simply highlighting the same crop of films (admittedly, many of them excellent) that are appearing on everyone else's top ten lists.
Would it be such a burden for influential filmmakers to write about a film they really like every once in a while?
The point here is a simple one: every year, a significant number of great films aren't greeted with the reaction they deserve by the general public. Filmmakers understand how frustrating that experience feels better than anyone. There may have once been a point in time where it wasn't feasible for filmmakers to constantly be boosting one another's works for the sake of enlightening the general public, but with the platform the internet provides, this is no longer the case. For the sake of fostering the great works made in the independent film community, one can't understate the value of influential filmmakers like Swanberg taking to the internet every once in a while - to voice their support for a film, a filmmaker, a festival, or anything else.
Yes, Facebook provides an outlet for such praise, but Facebook posts are not the same as getting an article up on a website. Would it be such a burden for influential filmmakers to write about a film they really like every once in a while, perhaps a film that could use some extra praise? Praise from filmmakers is more interesting to readers than praise from critics, because praise from filmmakers (about other filmmakers) is published so rarely - but hopefully, as personal blogs become ever more ubiquitous, the rareness of this act will diminish.