Michel Ciment, Revered French Film Critic, Dies at 85

Michel Ciment, a revered French film critic and longtime editor of Positif film magazine, died Monday in Paris at 85.

The Cannes and Venice film festivals paid tribute to him after news of his death. Ciment authored several well-regarded books about top directors, including “Kazan by Kazan” (1973); “Conversations With Losey” (1979); “Stanley Kubrick” (1980); and “Boorman: A Visionary in His Time,” and was a regular presence for more than five decades at every edition of both of these top fests and served on the Venice jury in 1980 and 1991.

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Cannes in a statement noted that Ciment, besides being Positif’s editor in chief, was producer and host of the popular French radio program “Projection privée” on France Culture, which is a public radio station. He was a film critic for over 50 years on another radio show called “Le Masque et la Plume” on prominent French radio station France Inter, as well as a lecturer at the University of Paris-VII.

“Michel Ciment had dedicated his life to passing on his knowledge and passion for the seventh art” said the Cannes statement, which called him “a free spirit with an insatiable curiosity.”

At Cannes, Ciment’s opinions were “both enlightened and strong, clear-cut and inflexible [and] meant a great deal. And his voice resounded in the corridors of the Palais des Festivals at the end of each screening, amongst his attentive colleagues.”

“The Festival de Cannes without Michel Ciment will never be quite the same. We will miss him. And so will cinema,” it concluded.

Venice paid tribute to Ciment calling him a “lucid and rigorous essayist” who attended every edition of the fest between 1964 and 2021. During his time on the Lido “with his uninterrupted presence and his human and intellectual example, Michel Ciment honoured the Venice International Film Festival to which he was bound by respect and passion,” it said.

The Venice statement pointed out that in 1997 Ciment curated the retrospective and book produced by the Venice Film Festival for the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement it awarded that year to Stanley Kubrick “of whom Michel Ciment was the most important scholar,” it said.

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