Graham Greene Film Review Competition

[It was hoped that the Graham Greene Film Review Competition would become an annual event. This has not been possible, owing to the pandemic among other reasons. Nevertheless, the results of the very successful inaugural competition are details below].


Congratulations Andrew and thanks too to all those who entered this competition.

Please find the Judges’ assessments of the winning entry and those of the two runners up below:

Second runner-up: Maddy Fry for ‘The Green Mile’

Frank Darabont’s epic 1999 adaptation of Stephen King’s Death Row drama: the critic thought it a ‘masterpiece’ and argued ‘passionately’ in its favour. We also felt the reviewer ‘shined a nicely ironic eye on the subject matter’s outdated view on women and race, noting the imbalances but setting them in the context of time and place of the story in the Depression-era deep American South.’

First runner-up: Catherine O’Sullivan for ‘The Assistant’

The very, very close first runner-up was Kitty Green’s recent The Assistant, a claustrophobic drama set in a film production office. This, we all agreed, was ‘an impressive review that flows easily between critiquing the film itself and a dialogue about the world it exposes. There is an intelligent analyst at work here.’ Above all, a remarkably timely film in the MeToo climate, the reviewer rightly noted, along with its skilful use of ambient sound to create extra tension.

Winner: Andrew Key for ‘Fruitvale Station’

And the winner of the Graham Greene Film Review Competition and the £500 prize is Andrew Key for his review of Fruitvale Station, a searing 2013 docu-drama about the last day in the life of a young African American man shot by police in the San Francisco Bay area in 2008. We thought: ‘The writing is controlled and intelligent and denotes the reviewer’s admiration for the film while allowing the reader to make up their own mind about whether this is something that will interest them or not.’ The reviewer also gave serious credit to its first-time filmmaker, Ryan Coogler, noting how he has since gone on to become one of Hollywood’s major ‘players’. Two of the three judges admitted they hadn’t seen the film before reading the review but were firmly persuaded by its eloquence to place it top of their wish-list ASAP.

Judges: Quentin Falk, Emma Clarke and Jo Wilson

The inaugural Graham Greene Film Review Competition is now closed. However, it is hoped that this will become a regular event and news of the next competition will be announced in due course.

Organised in partnership with The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester, this competition commemorates Graham Greene’s legacy as a film reviewer by offering a cash prize of £500 for the most imaginative, original, and thought-provoking review submitted. We invite submissions from new and established writers alike.

The Graham Greene Film Review Competition is open is open to anyone aged 18 or over at the time of entry.  To enter the competition, entrants must submit a review of a film (documentary or otherwise) with a run time of at least 80 minutes. The word limit for submissions is 1000 words. International entries are welcome.

The winner of the the inaugural competition will be announced in mid-July 2020 and the winning entry will be published in The Manchester Review. Unfortunately, owing to the cancellation of the  22nd annual Graham Greene International Festival due to the ongoing corona virus pandemic, the winning entry will not now be showcased at the festival as planned.

However, we’d like to thank everyone who entered the competition!

Prospective entrants for the next competition are advised to read on.  Full submission details and Competition rules, along with advice from this year’s three judges, are available below.

First Place: £500

 Entry Fee


Quentin Falk has been a freelance film critic and magazine editor for more than 35 years. His books include biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins, Albert Finney, the Rank Organisation, and Lord Lew Grade. He has recently ventured into True Crime with The Musical Milkman Murder, and, in 2018, maritime history, with Mr. Midshipman VC, about a British naval hero of Gallipoli. He is the author of the award-nominated Travels in Greeneland: The Cinema of Graham Greene, now in its fourth edition.

Emma Clarke ran the London office of Fine Line Features, the arthouse division of New Line Cinema, and was the executive on Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night starring Nigel Hawthorne, Ben Kingsley, and Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman’s directorial debut The Winter Guest starring Emma Thompson. Joining the UK Film Council in 2000 she was an executive in charge of finding and supporting new filmmakers and worked on the first films of Andrea Arnold, Sara Gavron, and Saul Dibb. For ten years at the Film Council she was the executive on around 60 films that garnered a wide and impressive set of accolades and awards at Bafta, the Cannes and Berlin film film festivals, and other festivals around the world. She is the course leader of the Screenwriting MA that she co-designed at the University of Manchester.


Dr Jo Wilson-Barnardo has been a Trustee of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust since 2011 and a clinical psychologist for over three decades. Her qualifications in Psychology are complemented by an MSc in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, and her interest include film noir and the history of espionage in the twentieth century. A collector of Graham Greene first editions, Dr Wilson-Barnardo is well versed in all facets of Graham Greene’s oeuvre, and has a particular interest in the application of psychological theory to Greene’s presentation of character and motivation. She sits on the Events Committee of the East of England Branch of the British Psychological Society and helps organise the Society’s film programme, Psy-Fi, at the Arts Cinema, Cambridge.


“Inform. Illuminate. Entertain. Those are my three basics of good film reviewing. But underlying all three should be, I believe, a passion for film as well as some understanding about the process of filmmaking. Every new film has a context, whether it be related to a particular genre or to the filmmaker him/or/herself.

It has been suggested that film criticism generally has deteriorated – and, for some, is now devalued – because it has become primarily descriptive, anecdotal and subjectively evaluative rather than analytical. Trying somehow to employ a healthy balance between all four of the aforementioned isn’t a bad template, I would suggest instead.

For those of us not minded to be novelists but prepared to confront films often well in excess of 90 minutes, film reviewing should be regarded a short form writing privilege to be undertaken with responsibility allied to the odd healthy dollop of prejudice.”
Quentin Falk
Chairman of the Panel of Judges

“From the perspective of someone who’s worked for a studio, I know that some films are critic-proof, and some arthouse or independent films can be made or broken by reviews. What I do really value is a critic’s ability to excite me about a film; someone offering an intelligent enthusiasm about a cinematic experience that I could be lucky enough to have!

For me, critics need to tread a balance of offering in-depth knowledge of the filmmaker’s work thus putting the film in that particular context, insightful noticing of the details that make the whole special, and an intellectual perspective that might offer why the film is relevant now or suggest why it isn’t.  Even better if all of that can be delivered with humanity, a lack of smugness, and a glint of humour.”
Emma Clarke

“Greene said that film criticism, more than any other form of criticism except perhaps that of the novel, is a compromise.

So what is it that might be considered compromise in the manner envisaged by Greene? To convey an understanding in less than perhaps 1000 words of the structure, content and underlying processes that characterise the piece. To annotate the ‘confusion’ of scenes, through which the audience must ‘discover’ the film. To capture what is the perspective and insight of the director and writer, to put this in a framework of the reviewer’s own meta perspective on the context of the piece, and to have some insight in turn into how their own views will be received and will shape the wider view of the film over time. To proffer opinion on how well, or how badly,  the makers have fared in what they are trying to, and not to,  convey, and to see and make sense of that which triumphs, unbounded, over their own non-disclosures, only to surface for the viewer, is a challenge indeed.

Film criticism sets out to be ethereal in nature, but paradoxically becomes sometimes, like many of Greene’s own film reviews, something to be captured and referred back to over time. In Greene’s words, “the critic, as much as the film, is supposed to entertain” ‒ and what begins as a moment of experience for the reviewer becomes part of that film’s story. Perhaps part of the challenge in judging such pieces is to be mindful of how well the critic has compromised his own narrative in the name of entertainment.”
Jo Wilson


Competition Rules

Rules: General

  1. The Graham Greene Film Review competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over at the time of entry. International entries are welcome.
  2. There is no restriction on the number of times you can enter but a £5 fee will be required for each entry. All entries will be considered anonymously by the judges.
  3. Online entries made via the website will receive automatic confirmation at the time of submission. Postal entries are not accepted.
  4. Telephone or email confirmation of receipt is not available. In case of difficulty entering the competition please contact
  5. The judges read all the entries; their decision is final. Neither the judges nor Graham Greene Trust staff will enter into any correspondence.
  6. No current trustee or volunteer of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust and academic or administrative staff of the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester and their relatives are eligible to enter the Competition.
  7. Fee waivers may be available for those whose financial circumstances require one. Please contact us regarding fee waivers at

Rules: Reviews

  1. All entries will be assigned a number and made anonymous upon receipt. Judges will not be privy to entrants’ names during the reading and judging processes. Names will be re-attributed to entries only after the winners have been decided.
  2. Reviews must be of a film, documentary, or otherwise of at least 80 minutes in duration. The review should not be more than 1000 words in length. Reviews must be submitted via the website
  3. Reviews must be the entrant’s original work.
  4. Simultaneous submissions are not accepted.
  5. Entries must not have appeared in print or on a website (including blogs and social networking sites) or have been broadcast. Work found to have been published in print or on a website or to have been broadcast will be disqualified without refund of the entry fee.
  6. Entries must be word-processed and written in English. Translations into English of work written in other languages can be accepted, provided that the source text is the entrant’s original work and has not been published or submitted for consideration elsewhere.

Rules: Entry and Fees

  1. To enter the competition you must first complete an application form on the website and pay a fee of £10 to complete the process. There is no restriction on the number of times you can enter, but a £10 fee will be required for each entry.
  2. You own the copyright to your Competition entry as its author. However, by submitting to the Competition you give the Organisation and the Manchester Review:
  3. permission for your entry to be published in the Manchester Review and grant them non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license to republish your entry in electronic format and hard copy; and
  4. the right to use your name and town or city of residence for the sole purpose of identifying you as the author of your entry and/or as winner of the Competition.
  5. Entries submitted for consideration may be withdrawn from the Competition by entrants by notification in writing. Where work is withdrawn, entry fees will not be refunded.
  6. Amendments cannot be made to entries after they have been submitted. Entries cannot be amended, corrected, or substituted. Entrants who wish to correct errors must withdraw their entries from the Competition and enter again.

Rules: Picking the Winner

  1. A panel of judges will choose one winning entry from all the Competition entries. The judges’ decisions are final, and no correspondence about their decisions will be entered into. We reserve the right to change the panel of judges without notice.
  2. When choosing the winner, the judges will be looking for imaginative, original, and thought-provoking reviews that would be suitable for publication.
  3. The judges’ decision of who the winner is will be made in June or July of the Competition year.

Rules: The Prize

  1. The Competition will award a prize of £500 to the winner.
  2. The prize cannot be exchanged or transferred by you and cannot be redeemed by you for another prize. You must pay all other costs associated with the prize and not specifically included in the prize.