Taking its title from a poem by Bertolt Brecht, this Film Comment Live talk explored the role of critique and criticism in the arts and beyond. Does critique represent a negative attitude to the world, or is it in fact an optimistic practice, one that allows us to imagine and work toward alternative and better realities? (Brecht, again: “Criticizing the course of a river means improving it, correcting it.”) Is criticism always a response to art, or can it be a form of art-making in itself? Can one effectively critique an institution or system while also living within it? Film Comment editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute delved into these questions with a roundtable of directors—Laura Poitras (All the Beauty and the Bloodshed), Elvis Mitchell (Is That Black Enough for You?!?), and Tiffany Sia (What Rules the Invisible)—whose films from the NYFF60 lineup are as stunning as works of art as they are incisive as critiques—whether of history, society, or art itself.

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