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11. Anna Smith – films, feminism and being President (of the Critics’ Circle)

11. Anna Smith – films, feminism and being President (of the Critics’ Circle)

In the era of Weinstein, #MeToo and Oscars So White, there have been a lot of discussions and much written about diversity in Hollywood. Although there’s a long way to go to achieve parity of pay and representation, it feels like a conversation has started around this. But what about those who watch films, review them and influence us, the general public, on what’s worth watching? There are painfully few successful female film critics and this is still an incredibly male-dominated area. Meryl Streep was asked about this, and commented that this discrepancy is “not disheartening, it’s infuriating.” 

My guest today however, has been breaking the mould on film criticism for more than 20 years. She is Anna Smith, one of the most successful film critics of her generation, and the current president of the Critics’ Circle. Anna writes for the Guardian, Time Out, Empire and a host of other publications, and appears frequently on Sky News and the BBC amongst others to review films, discuss breaking film news and comment on awards contenders. She is a professional, unflappable and engaging host, and can often be found moderating Q&As, press conferences and on-stage conversations with some of the world’s biggest stars. What a job! She is also in the midst of judging Under Her Eye, a competition run by Stylist magazine to encourage and recruit more female film critics. There’s no bad language in this podcast but just to warn you, there is some discussion of sex scenes in films, particularly lesbian sex. 

Anna’s website is, she’s on Twitter and Instagram @annasmithjourno – feel free to contact her on her work, she loves feedback from fellow film lovers!

In this interview we covered:

– When Anna realised that film criticism was for her and how she got into it

– What an average week as a critic looks like and how she reviews films that just aren’t great…

– How Anna prioritises films by female film-makers and those focusing on LGBTQ storylines 

– How the male gaze of a director affects the depiction of sex and sexuality on screen, and her recent writing on the portrayal of lesbian sex scenes

– Gender imbalance in film criticism and her experiences as a female critic

– Her role as President of the Critics’ Circle and their work in the arts

– The future of film criticism and journalism in general 

– ‘Under Her Eye’ – the new competition from Stylist magazine and Anna’s role as a judge finding new female film critics

– Routes into film criticism and how you could be the new Anna! 

– New films to look out for this Autumn.

Enjoy everyone!


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