Stephen A Russell
Imported from Glasgow, Stephen A Russell is a writer and critic who has called Melbourne home for more than a decade. After a spell working at the sadly departed Fairfax Community Network, he has been crafting a freelance career for the previous five years. Stephen regularly contributes film-focused content to SBS Movies and SBS Sexuality as well as Metro magazine, The Music, The New Daily, Fairfax, and The Lowdown Under.
Stephen’s dulcet Scottish brogue and the odd rogue snort can be heard on his Friday spot on Noosa FM 101.3, as well as occasionally popping up on Radio National and queer radio station Joy 94.9 FM. He also conducts Q&A sessions with visiting directors and actors for the likes of Palace Cinemas, Nova, the Lido and the Classic, as well as for film festivals including MIFF and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.
Asking him to name a favourite film will involve more time than you probably intended to devote to the discussion.
Outlets: SBS Movies, SBS Sexuality, The New Daily, Fairfax Executive Style, The Music, The Urban List, Metro, Radio National, Joy FM, Noosa FM
Movie location I call home: I’m an unreconstructed geek, so catch me dancing on the rooftops with Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle in Gotham City at Christmas, back when superhero movies featuring folks in head-to-toe rubber were suitably, erotically twisted.
I write about cinema because: When the lights go down the world opens up.
Film criticism matters in 2017 because: It can be a storm out there, particularly in the turbulent eddies of social media, so it's refreshing to latch onto the guiding lights who will spark the brightest conversations.
The film or experience that made me want to write about film, and why: John Waters' Pink Flamingos, starring the incomparable Divine, blew my tiny little (closeted) teen mind. Shocking me with the electric thrill of the profane, I realised (alongside The Rocky Horror Picture Show) that film was an incendiary force that could break and remake everything I thought I knew about the world and its people.
A movie I changed my mind about, and why: The Matrix. It’s even worse than I recall. What are you all on about?
The advice I’d give myself starting out: One day you will get life advice from the Pope of Trash, Juliette Binoche will offer you tea in a sumptuous Parisian hotel suite and Bill Nighy will pull a V for Victory sign while posing for a photo with you. It gets better. No, it gets brilliant. Believe.
A critic that inspired me, and why: Growing up in Scotland, I always dug Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian, because he has a warm, approachable style full of optimism for the industry that I feel is as important as more academic analysis.
The strangest thing that happened to me as a film critic: When finally interviewing John Waters many years later, the discussion segued unexpectedly into a fabulous coaching session about not letting others cajole you into relationships being an important part of self-identity. Strangest/best.
I’m looking forward to Critics Campus because: I got a lot of help on the way up and I passionately believe in sending the elevator back down as often as possible. Ding.
MIFF film I’m most looking forward to, and why: BPM, because Robin Campillo's Eastern Boys left an indelible mark on me, as did the director when I was lucky enough to interview him (and then accidentally delete the audio file – don’t do this folks).
Favourite film of the year so far, and why: Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, the most incandescent film of the past decade and a thing of true cinematic beauty.
My film festival theme music is: Indulge my Glaswegian origins and '80s teen movie proclivities as I strut around the joint to the tune of Simple Minds’ The Breakfast Club closer, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.