The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Comment magazine and Indiewire have announced the eight finalists for the fourth annual New York Film Festival Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that takes place before and during the festival (September 25– October 11). The program is designed to nurture promising film critics and journalists as they attend and cover screenings and events at this year’s festival.

For this year’s NYFF, the eight chosen participants, who are all based in the New York area, will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide variety of international cinema while dealing with the practical challenges of covering a festival at the epicenter of New York’s film culture. The participants will cover the festival with reviews of films in the selection, articles on sidebar events, in-depth reflections on the various program sections, or interviews with the festival’s guests.

The 2015 NYFF Critics Academy will begin several days prior to the start of the festival with roundtable discussions continuing over the course of the following five days (participants will also have the option of attending press screenings earlier in the month). Participants will then work on covering the festival once it begins, with guidance from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez and NYFF Critics Academy mentor Brian Brooks, Indiewire’s Deputy Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn, Film Comment magazine Senior Editor Nicolas Rapold, and Film Comment Digital Editor Violet Lucca. Their coverage to be published on Indiewire’s Criticwire blog and The workshop will officially conclude on October 11, the last day of the festival.

These are the names of the eight people selected for the second annual NYFF Critics Academy: Philip Falino (Nassau County), Demitra Kampakis (Queens), Phuong Le (Westchester City), Katherine Nero (Manhattan), Conrado Falco Raez (Manhattan), Elissa Suh (Brooklyn), Rodney Uhler (Brooklyn), and Nick Usen (Manhattan).

First launched as an initiative during the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, with a local version produced during the 2012 New York Film Festival, the combination of candid discussions with working critics and other members of the industry—paired with experience covering cinema in a deadline-driven environment—has proven to be the right kind of fuel for the professionally minded critic to begin sketching out a career plan.

The Critics Academy is one of two educational initiatives set to take place during NYFF, the other being the Artists Academy for young filmmakers. Just as that program guides filmmakers who show tremendous promise, the Critics Academy aims to provide context and pointers for critics who are already showing great potential in their writing, sensibilities, and professional motivation.

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. General public tickets go on sale September 13.