YCI IV in Review
Phewf! We’ve made it through another cycle of the Youth Critics program! Every year brings conversations that are both fresh and old: fresh in particular because the needle on Asian North American media representation in the mainstream has moved in remarkable ways in recent years, old because representation alone doesn’t necessarily move the need much in many other ways, evident in the ongoing tumultuous waves of violence directed against Asian people and bodies. How can both of these realities be simultaneous if we believe that the power to tell our own stories, to be visible through a diversity of character types, and to master various genres and formats, will enable us to make change in this world?
We think criticism is committed to answering this question by probing at inconsistencies, inspecting snarled realities, and considering the truth of the assertions we make in our storytelling. What are we saying? Is what we’re saying actually happening? Is what’s happening actually transformative? Are we transforming toward a world that is safer and nourishing for all of us?
The precious and necessary labour of answering this question over and over is why we at the Youth Critics Initiative slog through the process every year and then come back for more. We nurse something like an itch, maybe, to spend time with the art and its creators answering questions with questions, stacking answers on answers, so as to use wilder and kinder words, dream wilder and kinder dreams, and build wilder and kinder worlds.
Rinse and Repeat.
Rinse and Repeat.
If you’re a new reader, welcome. If you’re a returning one, thank you.
Formalities complete, we head into the pieces from this year’s cohort!
Your YCI Editors, Jasmine Gui and Grayson Lee
What is the Youth Critics Initiative?
The Youth Critics Initiative (YCI), run by TACLA, emerged from a desire to share and nurture the tools of criticism and review amongst community members who were emerging creators, writers, researchers and programmers. Hosted in partnership with the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, YCI offers a 6-month mentorship program designed to build skills in long-form criticism and alternative formats and nurtured through the lens of critical rigour and community care.
Youth Critics are given an all-access pass to the festival (November 2022), begin working on their pieces after it ends, and are published together in digital format the following May (2023) during Asian Heritage Month!
We’re excited to be publishing the work of 5youth critics this year in a variety of formats, and encouraged by the tender labour they have taken up toward the creative efforts of Asian diasporic filmmakers and creators.