Critic Directory

We have hand selected 10 of the finest film reviewers in our area to highlight compelling local voices to lend insight about our upcoming movies for our viewers. Each critic serves a one year term from November 1 – October 31. If you think you have what it takes to be a First Take Ciné Critic, head over to review the position description and if you meet the requirements, please submit an application during our application cycle next September.

Audrey Bennett

Audrey Bennett

Current Vocation: Cedar Shoals Highschool Student

I have a collection of cassette tapes, Godzilla action figures, and albums banned in South Korea. I also own a VHS camcorder that I enjoy taking videos on. I am into the extreme sport of sleeping for two hours and attempting to function throughout the day. I am able to play large versions of small instruments (i.e. marimba – a large xylophone – and tympani – a large drum). I can count pi to the 40th digit or so: a skill I learned in order to win a key lime pie. Here it goes: 3.1415926435897532684626433879502882791. I think that's about 40, yeah.

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Christie Henry

Christee Henry

Current Vocation: Poet, Artist and Manager of The Grit

Christee Henry is a poet and artist who's lived in Athens for 4 years. She graduated with degrees in Creative Writing and Philosophy from Emory University before relocating to Athens to pursue her creative practice and develop as an independent researcher.

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Drew Grier

Drew Grier

Current Vocation: Contract Specialist at UGA

Having been born and raised in Ft. Gaines, GA (est. population of 1,107 as of the 2010 Census), I filled much of my adolescent downtime with movies from the local video store, Picture Perfect Video. I arrived in Athens, GA in 2003, continuing my movie education with Vision Video's three locations, as well as accompanying late fees.

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Jennifer Denson

Current Vocation: Senior Graphics Designer, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

I'm a graphic designer by trade. I have designed many logos for nonprofits and political campaigns, including the Athens for Everyone logo. I'm a very good knitter. I'd say almost an expert. I also have an uncanny ability to memorize song lyrics, but have no rhythm. I make up songs for my toddler all the time, mostly about how it's time to put her toys away or eat her dinner.

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Juliano Saccomani

Juliano Saccomani

Current Vocation: PhD Candidate, Teaching Assistant, Department of Romance Languages, UGA

Born in an Italian family in Brazil, different languages and cultures have always been part of Juliano's life (fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and he can get around pretty well in Italian). He studies at UGA where he is pursuing a PhD in Romance Languages with a minor in film studies. He is also the editor-in-chief of a magazine, Fala Aí, with the goal of sharing the culture of Portuguese-speaking (Lusophone) countries with the world (please visit issuu.com/falaai to see more of what he does).

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Marie Cochran

Current Vocation: Independent scholar & academic entrepreneur

A self-proclaimed “pollinator,” Marie T. Cochran uses visual art to ignite discussions of identity and agency and foster community engagement for meaningful collaboration. Through images, objects, sound, and film, her work offers personal narratives of social justice.

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Mike McClelland

Current Vocation: Writer

Before becoming a writer, I worked as a gravedigger, wedding singer, antique salesman, and as a marketing strategy director for clients like Toyota, MillerCoors, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Like Sharon Stone and the zipper, I am originally from Meadville, Pennsylvania. I have lived on five different continents but now resides in Georgia with my husband, our two sons, and a menagerie of rescue dogs.

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Nicodemus Boggs

Nicodemus Boggs

There comes a time in every person’s life when they must take stock of themselves and choose a new name, one ripped from the pages of their favorite Young Adult novels. That’s a relatable experience, yeah? What up, it’s Nico! I’m a non-binary queer from Columbus, and I’ve been living in Athens since I moved to college here in 2011. A large part of my life for those college years was consumed in queer activism, but in recent years I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take a step back and explore myself and the world around me. I discovered an obsession with musical and interactive theatre, Disney theme parks, board games, Magic: The Gathering, and travel.

I always enjoyed watching movies, but I never understood that as an identifiable “interest in film” until my first college course in Film Studies. After I got my minor in Film Studies, I reassessed that love of film and realized that criticism is nothing if it’s not fun, relatable, and most of all, accessible. I hope my reviews will be informative and help you see movies from a new perspective; but mostly I want these reviews to be casual and laid-back. If we can’t have fun with the best storytelling medium in the world, then why go to the movies?

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Patrick Najjar

Current Vocation: Assistant District Attorney, Athens-Clarke County

This is now my eleventh year in Athens. I came to town for undergrad in 2008 and became immediately enamored with this town and, more specifically, its artistic riches. I perform regularly with the Town & Gown community theater on Grady Avenue and try to get over to Cine to see what's on offer as regularly as I can. By day, I am an assistant district attorney for Clarke County.

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Tommy Valentine

Tommy Valentine

Current Vocation: Executive Director, Historic Athens

Like most people that grow up in Athens, Georgia, I've been lucky enough to live several lives. As a young person, I was an Eagle Scout, then battle rapper, then record label owner. During college, those experiences gave way to community organizing and campaign management. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, I worked in the private sector before returning to complete my MPA.

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