Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and New York Times Critic at Large Wesley Morris will deliver the State of Cinema Address at the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival.
Each year, the San Francisco Film Society invites a visionary thinker to discuss the intersecting worlds of contemporary cinema and visual arts, culture and society, images and ideas. In this year’s address, Morris will argue for the radicalization of Sidney Poitier and how it parallels the current climate of race in the movies.
Morris was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for “his smart, inventive film criticism, distinguished by pinpoint prose and an easy traverse between the art house and the big-screen box office.” He was recently appointed as Critic at Large for the New York Times, where he is the paper’s sole African American cultural critic. Times lead film critic A.O. Scott said of his colleague, “He’s like Oscar Wilde-breathtakingly funny and absolutely serious in the same breath, able to illuminate the deepest and sometimes darkest meanings of a piece of popular culture without losing sight of the fact that it’s all supposed to be fun.”
Prior to joining the Times, Morris wrote for the sports and pop-culture website Grantland and spent ten years as a staff film critic with the Boston Globe, where he earned the Pulitzer. Earlier in his career, he wrote film reviews and essays for the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. He appears in the 2009 documentary film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, which features clips and interviews with many of the nation’s most celebrated film critics from the past 100 years.
Over the years SFIFF has invited many visionary thinkers to deliver their views on the current state and evolution of filmmaking. Director Steven Soderbergh provoked a media sensation with his 2013 address when video of his searing critique of the movie business went viral via the New York Times, Wired, The Hollywood Reporter and hundreds of other media outlets. In addition to Soderbergh, previous State of Cinema speakers have included visual effects wizard Douglas Trumbull, author Jonathan Lethem, film producer Christine Vachon, film editor Walter Murch, photographer Mary Ellen Mark, Wired publisher Kevin Kelly, actress Tilda Swinton, writer/director Brad Bird, cultural commentator B. Ruby Rich and Michel Ciment, longtime editor of the influential French film magazine Positif.