Michel Ciment, veteran French film critic, dies aged 85

Michel Ciment, the celebrated French film critic and longtime editor of Positif magazine, has died aged 85. The magazine reported the news on social media, describing him as Positif’s “master architect” after a 60-year career.

Born in Paris in 1938, Ciment fell in love with cinema as a student, and joined Positif in 1968, becoming editorial director in 1973; he said he admired Positif over Cahiers du Cinéma because the magazine was “left wing” and influenced by surrealism. Ciment published a string of books about prominent film directors, including Kazan by Kazan (1973), Conversations with Losey (1979) and Stanley Kubrick (1980).

John Boorman, the British director of Point Blank and Deliverance, and about whom Ciment wrote in his 1985 book Boorman: A Visionary in His Time, told the Guardian: “To say that Michel was passionate about the cinema was to do him an injustice. He lived and ate and dreamed cinema. I loved him and admired him, he was an original, his ideas were various and he always defended them.”

Boorman, who was a regular contributor to Positif, added: “It wasn’t enough that you liked the film he was promoting, you had to love it. He was passionate about the cinema and the last member of the little group who decided categorically whether a film is good or bad. He had his editorial meeting about the contents of the magazine on Sunday mornings over coffee and croissants; passionate views were held and if you disagreed with Michel you had to be very sure of your facts!”

Gilles Jacob, former president of the Cannes film festival, said on social media: “Michel Ciment was not only a great critic, an internationally recognised historian, but was also a curious mind about cinema and art.”