If you missed it, you can catch up on this recording or you can listen to this podcast.


Critical Failure

View all events in this series

at The Wheeler Centre

Film Criticism

Criticism is as essential to the industry as choc tops and popcorn, but if a bad word on Twitter can kill the box office what role do our critics have in the future of film? With thousands of movies released every year, film reviewers form opinion and can push a production from indie to international but can they be swayed by Hollywood? Our film panel look at the machinations behind the camera.

This session will be chaired by Peter Mares.

Add to calendar


Portrait of Mel Campbell

Mel Campbell

Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and critic who co-hosts the fortnightly literature and culture podcast The Rereaders. She is a columnist on writing at Overland magazine, and a university lecturer and writer-for-hire on film, TV and media. Her first book was the nonfiction investigation Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit (2013), and she’s currently co-writing a second romantic comedy novel with Anthony Morris; their first was The Hot Guy (2017).

Portrait of Adrian Martin

Adrian Martin

Since 1979, Dr. Adrian Martin has combined work as a professional writer and film critic with a university career.

Portrait of Fenella Kernebone

Fenella Kernebone

Fenella Kernebone is the host of ABC TV’s new weekly half hour arts show, Art Nation.

Portrait of Peter Mares

Peter Mares

Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Urban Transitions. He is a former ABC broadcaster and the author of three books, including No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018).

Portrait of Gillian Armstrong

Gillian Armstrong

Gillian Armstrong is one of Australia’s most successful directors with credits including My Brilliant Career and The Last Days of Chez Nous.

Critical Failure

Why Australian arts criticism is failing us all.

In the first week of September we’re programming a series of events looking at the state of arts criticism in Australia, under the thoroughly prejudicial name of Critical Failure. Too often we hear the cries of scepticism about the quality of local creative output, but what is the truth about the environment into which that output is released? If a film is Australian is it more likely to be over-praised or over-criticised? Are local productions held to the same standards as international? What role does the Cultural Cringe play? Tall Poppy Syndrome? Does the web offer a possibility for a new, more democratic critical environment for the arts in Australia? And what does all this mean for the creation of art locally: what chance does local art have to flourish in an environment where it is too rarely judged on its own terms?

With four panels across four art forms – Theatre, Film, Books and Visual Arts – we review the state of critical culture in Australia and cast a critical eye over Australian reviewing. Featuring some of the finest thinkers and practitioners in the local art scene, this will be a thought-provoking week of discussions that take critical engagement to the next level.

Videos of Critical Failure Sessions

This event is produced in partnership with ABC Radio National.


More about this venue, including large map, parking, public transport and accessibility.

Presented in partnership with