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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is Ignatiy Vishnevetsky too young to host Roger Ebert’s new review show?

Recently, New York Press film critic Armond White insisted that “there should be no film critics younger than 30.” Much as I suspect that White is trolling more often than not, it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I learned that Chicago film blogger Ignatiy Vishnevetsky has just been named cohost — along with the AP’s Christy Lemire, who had been previously announced as cohost — of the new Ebert Presents at the Movies, which will debut later this month in the United States on PBS.

Vishnevetsky is, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

a critic for Mubi.com, an online cinematheque, co-founded the site Cine-File.info, and also contributes to the Chicago Reader. Born in Russia, he moved to the United States as a child, graduated from a Milwaukee high school and then moved to Chicago, “because I could find more films to see here.”

Ebert, who is producing the weekly show with his wife Chaz, said that after hearing Vishnevetsky discuss films at local screenings, “I was struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge, and by how articulate he was.”

Before turning to film criticism, Vishnevetsky was a translator for Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Russia’s leading literary journal. He also is a programmer for University of Chicago’s Doc Films, the oldest U.S. film society.

Vishnevetsky is also, according to the Sun-Times, all of 24 years old. It means he was 10 or 11 when his cohost, Lemire, starting working as a film critic. Even if he was already deeply interested in art film, as this video over at Movie City News implies, how can he possibly have had the perspective to really understand it as a preadolescent? Can he really have the perspective to interpret film now in a mature way?

I’m not suggesting that a 24-year-old cannot be talented or intelligent. I’m not suggesting that a 24-year-old film critic should be banned from running a film blog or working as a film critic. I am saying that I find it difficult to believe that any 24-year-old, no matter how talented or intelligent, could be worthy of being crowned by Roger Ebert as the next Roger Ebert.

I know, I know: We have to give Vishnevetsky a chance to prove himself. But it’s not like there aren’t talented, intelligent film critics with more experience and more wisdom who would’ve jumped at the chance to cohost a Roger Ebert-approved review show.

What do you think? Is Ignatiy Vishnevetsky too young to host Roger Ebert’s new review show?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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