Live-Blogging The Wexner Center’s Criterion Collection Spotlight For 2013

Isabella Rossellini and Guy Maddin at the Wexner Center

For the past several years, the fine folks at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University have invited the Criterion Collection to take the stage and discuss their various releases. These talks inevitably lead to upcoming titles, both known and rumored. Last year we learned about a number of this year’s releases. Today at 7pm Eastern, Peter Becker and Kim Hendrickson will be speaking at the Wexner Center.

From the announcement:

Join Criterion Collection President Peter Becker and Producer Kim Hendrickson as they share the compelling history of the company and provide a behind-the-scenes look at Criterion’s operation, focusing on recent and upcoming releases such as Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (2013), Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975), Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931), among others.

The event is streaming live on Ustream, and we’ll be live-blogging the event here. We’ll have comments turned on, if you have anything to share from your viewing of the event.

Related links:


6:50pm EST: Getting ready for the start of the event. Any predictions, please, leave them in the comments. Sometimes they will be vague in any “announcements,” so be sure to help us all cipher through what may a long list of possible pending titles. Also, what will they have to say about their new partnership with Sony? Any hinted titles? Dual format discussion? Was that a factor in why Criterion launched the dual format releases?

7:05pm EST: Opening speech. Introducing Becker and Hendrickson. Excited to see what gets “announced.” Even more interested in learning about what went behind a handful of some interesting releases. Fantastic Mr. Fox in particular. More animated coming?

7:10pm: Becker mentions Criterion will be 30 years old next year. Potential releases in honor of the anniversary? Maybe a documentary on the company?

7:15pm: Discussing the fact that Criterion is ostensibly a collection of producers with teams that they lead. Really an interesting concept. Mentioning that they aren’t experts at anything other than being Criterion. Have the ability to reach out to the actual experts with certainty they’ll be able to get them to give over as much as they would need. Makes for “labors of love” as Becker calls Hendrickson’s work on the Rossellini/Bergman box set.

7:20pm: REALLY getting into background of Criterion’s “process” for each project. Talking about how much of their job is ostensibly research. Even down to restoration work. Saying it lays on the producer’s shoulders, as they need to constantly involve the experts in the process of putting out the best product humanly possible.

7:21pm: “We want a release to be a story we want to tell.” As telling a line about Criterion’s ideals as we’ve ever seen. Each release, at least each GREAT release, feels like Criterion is not only releasing a film on home video, but also telling the story of its production, the time period it was released within, and everything related to it. Like…Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film itself is such an interesting production and a stretch for a real auteur, that it feels like a story worth telling, about a film worth releasing.

7:25pm: Hendrickson finally speaks. Speaking on the making of the Rossellini/Bergman set. It’s truly a powerful release. My review is on the site (will link later), but just run out and get it. Really an interesting release and a perfect example of Criterion trying to “tell a story” about a film. Talking of the different versions of the films.

7:30pm: They restored four versions of Europe ’51. This company is insane. And I love it.

7:33pm: Now mentioning how Criterion sees each restoration as a chance to teach its audience about the film, and film in general. Avoid talking about budgets. Avoid talking about using automatic tools to wipe out grain. They see the need to keep film looking like film as paramount.

7:40pm: Say they’re seen by studios as a “weapon in their arsenal.” Odd way to put it, but I kind of get it. Hold a ton of clout and they have proven to give themselves completely over to a release. Unless you’re Blue Is The Warmest Color, anyways.

7:41pm: Discussing Janus’ deal to snag the Chaplin canon. Showing a print of City Lights tonight. What do you guys think will be next for Criterion’s Chaplin line?

7:45pm: Q/A time! Annnnnnd, my feed goes black.

7:52pm: TALKING GANCE’S NAPOLEON AND I MAY OR MAY NOT BE DOING A DANCE IN MY BEDROOM. They say lots of work is going on on the actual film level, and they’ll go forward if that’s an option for everyone involved.

7:53pm: Talking about something WB related. Question wasn’t clearly heard on my live stream. Will try to clarify as that becomes an option. Oh, just mentioned it. The Devils from director Ken Russell. Nothing has been said about them doing it, but not about them not doing it either. Active discussions.

7:55pm: Discussing why Michael Bay is in the Collection and not two films from director Jan Troell. The Emigrants and The New Land. Says WB has shown interest in them licensing the two films, and releases are ostensibly in the works.

7:59pm: TODD HAYNES’ SAFE OH MY YES. And more Oshima. But NOT any of the Theatre Guild titles. Very exciting news. VERY exciting. Oddly enough, Boy is on the list, but that seems almost set in stone. Odd. I’ll dig more into exactly what is meant here. Feed is really choppy.

8:08pm: A deal is pending for yet another animation film to enter the ranks and it’s hopefully going to be coming soon. Very interesting. Becker wouldn’t budge when prodded for more information.

8:10pm: KIM SPILLS THE BEANS! More Cronenberg. More Howard Hawks “in two versions.”

8:12pm: And that’s kind of it guys. Some interesting bits, but this year, the talk was oddly interior, and focused on the process. I personally found the chat interesting, and for me, it’s a side of Criterion that I find immensely intriguing and the discussion of collaborations between directors and the production teams themselves is quite enthralling. What did you guys think? No talk, really, of the Sony team up, dual format. What do you all think?

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.


  • The interview Becker gave yesterday for the college radio station there was pretty interesting. You guys listen?

  • I’m just glad to see that Ohio State University actually makes a constructive contribution to humanity! ;)

  • Must have missed it. Admittedly, my feed is choppy. I live in the Midwest, and my internet has been all over the place this week.

  • Curious about how they would do Napoleon.

    Sad to hear that ERASERHEAD is going to take a while longer. Figured that, though.
    I’m guessing the Hawks one is RED RIVER, based on the act that the Masters of Cinema edition has a note on “two versions” of the film in the booklet. (God I would kill for BRINGING UP BABY.)

  • – Hawks is Red River
    – More Cronenberg
    – A four letter titled Haynes picture aka Safe
    – More Oshima that isn’t a Theatre Guild title(?)
    – Bicycle Thieves
    – They’d love to do Napoleon if its an option
    – Two Jan Troell films
    – Unsure as to the future of The Devils
    – A deal is pending for an animated title that may or may not be on its way soon.

    Miss any other “reveals?”

  • Le Samourai is in the Collection still, one of the few Melville still in print./Bitterly types realizing I could’ve had Le Circle Rouge a year ago.