Chief Film Critic at The Observer Relinquishes Role after Decade-long Career
Mark Kermode, chief film critic at The Observer, will end his 10-year tenure in September, handing over the post to Wendy Ide. By: Theng Min Yee
In a momentous shift within the realm of film criticism, Mark Kermode, who has held the prestigious role of The Observer's chief film critic for a decade, is set to pass the torch to Wendy Ide this weekend. Kermode's announcement marks the transition of one of the most coveted seats in film criticism to Ide, who will now assume her place on the newspaper's esteemed panel.
The role of chief film critic at The Observer, a position that was once occupied for an impressive 35 years by the late Philip French, has been a bedrock for contextualising both mainstream and independent cinema. Under French's stewardship, the film review pages evolved into a renowned platform for dissecting the successes and shortcomings of the cinematic world.
With genuine enthusiasm, Ide expressed her sentiments about taking on this significant role, stating that she is "beyond honoured." Over the past seven years, she has consistently contributed to the paper's film section, collaborating with Kermode in reviewing new releases. Reflecting on the legacy of The Observer's film coverage, Ide acknowledged its significance: "For me, The Observer has always been the gold standard for newspaper film coverage." She reminisced about growing up in Birmingham, where she avidly read Philip French's eloquent reviews, which served as a guide to exploring diverse realms of cinema.
Mark Kermode, renowned not only for his written critiques but also for his broadcast work and his role as a co-host on BBC Radio 4's Screenshots, will conclude his tenure as chief film critic on September 17. Kermode expressed that the timing is opportune: "It'll actually be 10 years and one week when I stop, but it's neat, especially as I have just celebrated my 60th birthday."
Kermode further praised his successor, Ide, emphasising her exceptional skills as a writer and her ability to contribute directly from film festivals—a task he himself could not manage. With evident admiration, Kermode shared his confidence in Ide's capabilities and the conviction that she is an ideal successor.
As The Observer prepares for this significant transition, the shift symbolises the evolution of film criticism within the digital age and the enduring commitment of individuals like Kermode and Ide to provide insightful commentary on the world of cinema.
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