The Critics Academy is Kohn’s and Hernandez’ way of helping aspiring critics realize that there is still room for them, no matter how harsh the professional climate may seem.

Michael Pattison, 26, is proof of that. Pattison had a masters in film but had only been writing criticism as a hobby before he was selected for the Locarno Academy in August. Being able to put faces to people he had only known through their bylines was exciting, and meeting the cast, crew, and publicists for various films broadened his understanding of criticism as a profession.

“You become aware immediately that writing’s not this solitary, insular profession,” Pattison said. “You’re meeting people who have actually had a human contribution to something that you’re writing on,” he said, and “you become very much aware that what you’re writing is actually going to have an effect on people’s lives, and people’s enjoyment and appreciation of cinema.”

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Edirin Oputu is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @EdirinOputu