Critical Critique

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The press and its coverage of a film can raise it up in the eyes of audiences, but can also lead to a film’s demise. Join us for a discussion of film journalism and the role of the film critic where we ask why are film critics such a subject of contention and how can they control a film’s journey into market—a film can be criticized before a single shot is ever taken!

As a medium for the masses, film opens itself to critique from people of all different backgrounds, cultures, ages, expressive abilities, and interests. In a discussion moderated by the American University of Cairo’s Iman Hamam, join film critics Jay Weissberg and Mae Abdulbaki, as well as filmmaker Anka Malatynska, in investigating how to be critical beyond liking or disliking a film, and how film critics/reporters interact with, and differ from, general film audiences. 


[A news stand in Cairo, Egypt. Image courtesy of Megapress and Alamy Stock Photo.]

  • Venue accessibility

    • Simultaneous translation

      Simultaneous translation (Arabic/English) is provided for all programs.

    • Wheelchair accessibility

      The Projection Theatre is fully wheelchair accessible and features multiple wheelchair spaces with unobstructed views of the stage and screen.

    • Sign Language interpretation

      Sign Language interpretation (ASL and ArSL) may be requested for talks, discussions, lectures and tours. Please contact the museum well in advance of the program to discuss this service. You are welcome to bring an interpreter with you—please let us know ahead of time and we will ensure that appropriate seating is reserved. A program ticket does not need to be purchased for an interpreter providing prior notification of their attendance at a specific program is provided to the museum.

    • Wifi

      Free wifi access is available in the building. On your mobile device, with wifi switched on, select Guest-NUQ-Majlis from the available services and accept the terms of service to connect.

  • Program credits

    Iman Hamam

    Iman Hamam is an instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo where she has also taught in the areas of cinema in Egypt and the Arab World, and women and film in the School of Arts Film Program. She has published on mainstream Egyptian comedies, filmmaker Shadi Abdelsalam, representations of war, and the institution in documentary, narrative and experimental film. Hamam teaches courses which explore cultures and contexts with relation to film, television, music, photography and technology, while in her writing courses she explores contemporary issues in Arab popular culture, comics, postcolonialism, the American dream and more. Before AUC, she taught critical theory at the University of Exeter and film studies at Middlesex University, UK.

    Mae Abdulbaki

    Mae Abdulbaki is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film and TV critic, entertainment writer, and podcast co-host based in Washington, D.C. She is the founder of Movies with Mae and currently serves as TV editor for The Young Folks, and as a freelance entertainment journalist for Inverse. She is a member of the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association, the Black Reel Awards, and the Alliance for Women in Film Journalism. 

    Jay Weissberg

    Jay Weissberg is a New York-born film critic living in Rome. Weissberg has been a film critic for Variety since 2003, travelling to film festivals throughout Europe, the MENA region, and Latin America. His work on contemporary cinema has appeared in numerous international publications, and he has contributed essays for a host of festival and retrospective catalogues, with a particular focus on current Arab and Romanian productions. As a film historian he has written widely about aspects of silent cinema, and since 2015 has been director of the Giornate del Cinema Muto/Pordenone Silent Film Festival. He is a frequent participant in festival juries, panel discussions on the current state of cinema and film criticism, and regularly moderates masterclasses with filmmakers, and mentore programs for young film critics in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Rotterdam, Berlin, Locarno, and Melbourne. 

    Anka Malatynska

    Anka Malatynska has been named by American Cinematographer magazine as one of the 10 Rising Stars of Cinematography in 2019. She most recently shot the indie dramedy feature film Breaking Fast, produced by Seth Hauer and directed by Mike Mosallam. Breaking Fast tells the story of Mo, a practicing Muslim living in West Hollywood, learning to navigate life post heartbreak, and Kal, an all-American guy who offers to break the fast with him during the holy month of Ramadan. She was educated and mentored by cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs (Easy Rider, 1969) and Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977). Recently appointed as an Assistant Professor in Residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, she straddles the world of Hollywood cinema and educating the next generation. This year she will be the cinematographer of a new series on US on-demand channel Hulu titled Monsterland which explores mythical monsters as a metaphor for the problems faced by the modern-day world.