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David Rooney

An Australian journalist based in New York, David Rooney has been an arts writer for more than 20 years, covering film, theatre, television, books and music, and working in radio and TV as well as print and online. He is currently a film and theatre critic for The Hollywood Reporter and an arts contributor to The New York Times. He has written for The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone, and was formerly chief Italian correspondent for Variety, later serving as chief theatre critic for six years. He was a member of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama jury and the nominating panel of the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards.


Twitter handle: None; I have no filter so that's a libel suit waiting to happen.

City I call home: New York

Area of cinema I am most passionate about: American independent, docs, anything music- and theatre-related.

A film that changed me: The Last Picture Show, because I’m always interested in film, television and theatre that translates literature into a visual and dramatic language yet remains true to the original prose voice; also Bogdanovich’s movie typifies a creatively flourishing period of 1970s American film that I love. Its depiction of the inertia of small-town life just aches with poignancy. But ask me that question on a different day and you’d get a different answer.

MIFF film(s) I’m most looking forward to: I’m always keen to catch up with what’s coming out of Australia, and I’ve liked a lot of past work by Tony Ayres and Robert Connolly. (I thought Tim Winton’s The Turning was an artistically and economically audacious project, and even if the episodes are uneven it captures the essence of my favourite Australian writer often enough to be beautiful and evocative.) So I’m anxious to see Cut Snake and Paper Planes.

I’m looking forward to Critics Campus because: We’re a professionally imperiled breed in an age when essay-style ‘expert’ opinions are increasingly marginalised in favour of the quick-hit, 40-character world in which everyone is a reviewer. Even a lot of film students no longer read reviews, preferring to get their heads-up on a new film from peer groups; whether it's snark (This sucks!) or praise (Awesome!), most of it meaningless.

Cinema excites me because: Sadly, too often it doesn’t any more, particularly Hollywood, and I think a lot of the really bracing screen storytelling coming out of America now is happening in television, particularly long-form cable drama. But those one or two truly knockout films that come along at every festival, or even the flawed ones that show the first glimmers of a promising new talent, have a way of erasing a whole lot of numbing popcorn.