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  • Writer's pictureDan Koh

derek malcolm – 100 years of cinema

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

derek malcolm, legendary film reviewer of the guardian and evening standard, surrounded by film contemporaries
FOTO: Derek Malcolm's Facebook

after growing up reading his incisive, pithy reviews of "world cinema" in the Guardian then the Evening Standard, i met Derek Malcolm at the Bengaluru film festival in 2018. he was there as a FIPRESCI jury member (and former president), i was there as a (former) NETPAC member; we hung out between film screenings, walking slowly to the smoking point for cigarettes and light.

i was impressed that at the age of 86, he was still travelling to Karnataka yearly in search of "Third World cinema", as he called it, and was still in touch with the latest films (despite his understandable hatred of contemporary cinema); i was even more impressed that he spurned all the festival staff's kind but obsequious attention (he was clearly the VVIP amongst all of us) and that he showed me the British middle-finger sign within seconds of us being introduced and multiple times afterwards, in the funniest ways possible.

we kept in touch over email, but i'm sorry we never got to see each other again. he belongs to a generation of arts critics that stood in the centre of culture, made a fine career of it, but never wanted the attention – how fitting that his passing was announced on the same day as Jane Birkin's. starting out as a horse-racing jockey then correspondent, he always kept his sense of humour, self-deprecation, and wit, and prioritised underappreciated cultures. they say you should never meet your heroes, but he was the kindest, most loveable curmudgeon. i will miss him and still want to be like him.

vale and rest in power, mr. Malcolm x


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