Keith Reed has been named the 2019–20 recipient of the Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Fellowship in Film Criticism, a program that supports the next generation of film critics.
Reed, who will start taking classes in the summer immersion program in July, is working toward his master’s degree in specialized journalism (the arts).
The fellowship, a joint venture by USC Annenberg, USC School of Cinematic Arts and SPE, is designed for aspiring film critics. Its goal is to ensure informed film criticism and reporting remain a vital part of contemporary journalism. Reed will be mentored by program director Sasha Anawalt, and also taught by expert critics, including USC Annenberg Adjunct Professor Kenneth Turan, chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio.
Reed, a native of Chicago, said that he’s been fascinated with film for most of his life, often finding himself drawn to dark or difficult works even at a young age. “I was watching all the really intense movies,” he said. “In high school, I was watching Requiem for a Dream — I actually wrote a big thesis paper on it, and had to watch it a bunch of times!”
He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa. In the two years since his graduation, Reed says he has been looking for a master’s program that would be the right fit for his focus on film and TV criticism. “I’m interested in the way the television landscape is diversifying and incorporating new stories and fresh concepts,” he said. “Also, I’m curious about the way society consumes content from streaming services and music apps.”
The specialized journalism (the arts) program will allow Reed the freedom to pursue subjects he’s passionate about. “Keith writes with tremendous energy about film and popular culture,” Anawalt said. “His writing reaches out. You can feel it with urgency. He has this capacity to connect and, as it were, mess with your imagination and your opinions. He makes you think in ways for which you are unprepared. It’s fantastic. Plus, he is completely open to the plastic possibilities of different media, eager to radicalize arts journalism.”
Reed cites his connection with Anawalt as one of the major reasons he chose USC Annenberg. “I just called her, we had a great conversation, and that really made all the difference,” he recalled. “It felt so heartwarming to know that there's a person’s voice behind the big university, and that people actually want to help you and want to see your work.”