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A Film Critics Can Love

BU Cinematheque curator releases documentary showcasing century’s great film critics

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Gerald Peary, curator of BU Cinematheque, a weekly program at the College of Communication that brings independent and celebrated filmmakers to campus to screen and discuss their work, and his wife, producer Amy Geller, have released a documentary love letter to the profession Peary worked in for 30 years: film criticism.

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, now for sale on DVD, is an 80-minute film about the history of film criticism along with 40 minutes of extras, among them interviews with writer-director John Waters, whose films include Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, and longtime critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who with the late Gene Siskel defined movie reviewing for TV audiences for 23 years. Peary, former film critic for the Boston Phoenix, wrote and directed, and Geller, a COM instructor last semester, produced the project.

While they felt no sense of urgency when they began the project eight years ago, Peary says recent layoffs among film critics changed that. 

“It’s really important for folks to pay attention to the words of people who have thought long and hard about movies and who are educated and passionate about them,” he says. “It’s a fight for them to continue their profession.”

In the documentary, critics discuss how they think about and look at movies, how they came to the profession, and what movies led to their love of cinema.

“It takes you through 100 years of American movie history,” Peary says. “And you even get to hear Ebert discussing how he came up with the idea of ‘two thumbs up.’”

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism can be purchased for $24.99 here. Peary and Geller discuss the making and importance of the documentary here.

Caroline Hailey can be reached at chailey@bu.edu.

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