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Critics' Poll(s) Revived, But Not at Voice

When it rains it pours on the Village Voice criticism beat -- or at least on the outskirts of that beat: Following the news that internal tumult had snuffed out the paper's annual critics' poll and that interim film editor Allison Benedikt had officially inherited Dennis Lim's old job comes word that Lim is working with indieWIRE to revive a comprehensive year-end survey. The style will evidently not be too different from the list-and-quote format that readers came to expect from the Voice polls; iW is said to have been working overtime for weeks to develop an electronic voting site for invitees, of which Lim said today via e-mail there are more than 100. No specific names were mentioned, but as you can probably assume from Lim's involvement -- to which most observers attribute the longevity and success of the Voice's previous "Take" polls -- the list will be deep and well-connected.

Meanwhile, another tipster directed me over to critic Scott Foundas, who confirmed this morning that he is launching a best-of poll of his own for L.A. Weekly. I had initially heard that it would be limited to critics from the Village Voice Media syndicate, but Foundas debunked that in an e-mail to The Reeler. "I've invited over 100 people (mostly critics, but a handful of filmmakers, programmers and assorted other enthusiasts) to participate in the First Annual L.A. Weekly Film Poll, so it's hardly limited to VVM critics," he wrote. "All of the regular VVM critics have been invited, of course, but that's maybe a dozen people all told."

But what of the short turnaround and volume of work that Voice critic Nathan Lee said torpedoed this year's Take Eight poll? Foundas said matter of factly that he's doing it on his own. He also added that he doesn't know if the other 16 VVM papers -- including the Voice itself -- will even pick the poll up. "I assume they could if they wanted to, but I obviously can't speak for them," he wrote.

Huh. So in a couple of weeks we went from having no polls to anticipating two of them. I'd be interested to see the overlap in voters or if such double-dipping is even allowed. At least we already know Andrew Sarris is good for a couple of quotes.

UPDATE: Lim sends late, impressive word that the poll's best undistributed films will be showcased in a series next spring.

Posted at November 29, 2006 9:01 AM

Comments (2)

I wish Foundas luck. He clearly has no idea how much time he's gonna have to put into this. (I've conducted a survey of roughly 40 mostly gentleman film buffs for the past decade, and tabulation for eight categories takes about an hour per ballot.)

Thanks for the nod, Stu -- to be clear, we're combining the new film critics poll we're working with Dennis on with our normal indieWIRE effort to highlight the best undistributed films of the year (which turns into the Undistributed Gems program of screenings with the California Film Institute and Emerging Pictures.)

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