The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting piece up on the disappearing space in print publications for reviews of independent films. The loss of print film critics in numerous outlets, coupled with the increasing number of independent films being released each year, is making it more of a challenge for indie films to get reviews of their films in print pubs. Online critics have taken up some of the slack -- we here at Cinematical still review as many indies as we can, in addition to the more mainstream fare, but there's still a perception out there among some that an online review carries less weight than a review printed on paper.

The article has some interesting dueling quotes; THINKfilm's Mark Urman notes, "We're not at a point where Internet writers have the credibility of established media with proven records and editors." Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells begs to differ, saying in part, "... there are maybe eight or 10 online critics who genuinely matter and are, in the parlance of the trade, 'conversation starters.' Due respect, but insisting that review quotes are still about print critics is generational hubris."

Movie City News' David Poland weighs in as well: " ... It has nothing to do with web critics' credibility or proven records. It has a lot to do with a market that tends to be older and comforted by the familiar."

Obviously, I tend to agree with Wells and Poland on this one. While there is a certain segment of the population that still gives more weight to print, and I don't deny the value of a positive review in, say, the New York Times, the times, they are a'changing, and online media has grown increasingly more reliable and relevant. Ten, fifteen years ago, it was a different world, a world that relied primarily on printing on paper to deliver news. That's just not the case today.

While the internet does make it eaiser for anyone with an opinion to put it out there, I also believe that people are (mostly) smart enough to filter and differentiate in the online world just as they do with print, and that just as people have certain print critics they come to read and rely upon for opinions about film, they do the same with online critics. And I don't see that trend going away; if anything, over time, as print outlets continue to dilute the value of film criticism by firing reputable writers and relying more on stringers, I believe we'll see online critics continue to fill those gaps and build up a base of readers who rely upon their opinions as much as they once turned to print critics.

Myself, I almost never read anything printed on paper these days, with the exception of books. I get my daily news online, I read alternative papers online, I read other film critics online, I have a stable of blogs I read daily. I'm not likely to get interested in an indie film because Mahnola Dargis writes about it, much as I love reading her writing, but if an online critic or film journalist whose opinion I trust and value raves about a film, that definitely catches my interest.

Does the decreasing amount of print space for indie films bother you? Or have you, like me, come to rely more on online film sites to hear about indie films that you wouldn't hear anything about otherwise? What drives you to go see an indie film, whether at the theather or on DVD? Discuss away ...

[via Hollywood Elsewhere ]