Sight and Sound: the September 2021 issue

Iconic international film magazine Sight and Sound today unveiled a new-look and editorial approach, featuring new contributors and sections, greater access to the magazine’s unique archive interviews, a quarterly collaboration with seminal 90s publication Black Film Bulletin and a striking redesign. Founded in 1932, Sight and Sound has been a bedrock of film culture for almost 90 years and the relaunched magazine realises the vision of Editor-in Chief Mike Williams. 

The September issue, out on 2 August, is themed ‘The Future of Film’ and features four filmmaker cover stars: Chloé Zhao, whose third feature Nomadland swept the boards at the 2021 Oscars; Steve McQueen, winner of the 2012 best film Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, whose Small Axe was seen by many as the most important British television series of 2020; Sofia Coppola, winner of the best original screenplay Oscar for Lost in Translation in 2004; and Luca Guadagnino, whose 2018 film Call Me by Your Name was nominated for multiple Oscars and BAFTAs.

On The Future of Film our cover stars said:

To get together in a room with strangers and experience something together, it should be in our nature. But there's a disconnect culturally and societally that is preventing that urge: we’ve become less trusting of each other to share that space. It’s not that people want the small screen — the screens at home are getting bigger. It’s about whether you want to go into a dark room with strangers or not.Chloe Zhao
I don't know if cinema needs saving, but it's definitely worth saving. Personally, I adore it. I love being in a cinema with an audience. I love the oohs and the ahhs, the applause, the titters, and communal viewing? There's nothing like it.Steve McQueen
I hope that you're going to see more and more different kinds of voices represented. If you look back [at who was making films in the past] it was one group of mostly men. I'm always happy to see something I haven't seen before and be surprised, so we'll see.Sofia Coppola
Cinema in itself doesn’t need to be saved because cinema is an entity that existed before us and will always exist after us.Luca Guadagnino

Alongside the cover stars, a wide-ranging cast of established and emerging filmmakers including Guillermo del Toro, Claudia Weill, Prano Bailey-Bond, Armando Iannucci, Gurinder Chadha, Edgar Wright, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Dea Kulumbegashvili, Alice Rohrwacher, Mike Leigh, Ben Wheatley and many more, reflect on their hopes and fears for cinema and wider screen culture. 

Developed in collaboration with award-winning design agency Pentagram, the redesigned magazine gives Sight and Sound a bold new visual identity with a respectful nod to its heritage. Popular regular features such as Dream Palaces are joined by new features looking at soundtracks and poster art, while in-depth articles and reviews remain the backbone of the magazine. New regular columnists Pamela Hutchinson, Jonathan Ross and Phuong Le will be joined by a guest columnist in the Director’s Chair, the first of which is Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund.

Also revealed today is a special quarterly collaboration with the Black Film Bulletin, edited by founder and original editor June Givanni alongside her new co-editors Jan Asante and Mel Hoyes. Launched in 1993, the Black Film Bulletin was fuelled by a prolific new wave of Black visual culture exploration. Following a prolonged hibernation, the BFB returns to revisit key moments from the archives, explore current perspectives and cast a critical eye on what the future holds. 

“I’m incredibly proud to launch this revamped and reinvigorated Sight and Sound at such a key moment for film,” says Mike Williams, Sight and Sound Editor in Chief. “For almost 90 years Sight and Sound has been a place for independent critical thought, and this new-look magazine builds on that legacy. We support a wide range of opinions, give a platform to a diverse range of voices and we explore a broader idea of screen culture than we have in the past, but our identity remains rooted in our belief in the power of cinema. Magazines are an important part of our culture, they’re lifelines, and this new magazine sits in the middle of an expanding cross-platform world that will ensure that film-lovers around the world can access us however they like, whenever they like for years to come. Long live cinema, long live Sight and Sound.” 

“It was a huge honour to redesign a magazine that holds such an extraordinary place in the hearts of cinephiles from all over the world,” adds Marina Willer, Pentagram Partner. ”With a nod to the magazine’s amazing heritage, Sight and Sound’s new logo is a reimagining of a previous design from the 1970s, referencing an era that believed in film’s indisputable place in culture and society. The redesign features a graphic language inspired by film clapperboards, with bold typography and visible grids used throughout to add emphasis to the magazine’s rich content, give a contrast in pace and create layouts with real impact. The new-look Sight and Sound is a confident expression of the hugely respected brand, and will hopefully ensure that the magazine continues to appeal to film lovers old and new for years to come.”

Content in detail

Opening Scenes

The new front section combines monthly regulars such as Dream Palaces (odes to cinemas by filmmakers and others) and Editors’ Choice (a collection of things the editors are recommending each issue, inspired by the popular section in the Weekly Film Bulletin newsletter), with news and observations on what is happening in cinema and screen culture right now, including what’s in production, festival reports and spotlights on soundtracks and poster art. 

Talkies

This is a brand new section of first person opinion pieces that will reinforce Sight and Sound as a place of critical thought at the same time as bringing personality and first-person experience to the magazine. The launch columnists are Pamela Hutchinson, Jonathan Ross and Phuong Le. There is also a Director’s Chair column where a filmmaker will share their views each issue. Issue 1 features Swedish director Ruben Östlund, Issue 2 will feature documentary maker Kirsten Johnson.

Features

Features have always been the lifeblood of the magazine. Issue 1’s cover story is ‘The Future of Film’, featuring a vast cast-list of filmmakers sharing their hopes and fears for cinema and wider screen culture. Other features include an in-depth report from Cannes and an exploration of Black horror. 

From the archive

This will include features from the magazine’s 90 year archive, beautifully presented. There will also be a new page, This Month In… which digs into an issue from the past and spotlights what people were talking about and how. The first big archive piece is an interview with Bette Davis to coincide with BFI Southbank’s Bette Davies: Hollywood Rebel season which is running throughout August and the BFI UK-wide re-release of Irving Rapper’s Now, Voyager (1942).

Guest section

This signals a return to print of the seminal 90’s publication, Black Film Bulletin. Working with original editor June Givanni and her co-editors Jan Asante and Mel Hoyes the magazine will hand over the pages to them each time to bring their vision and point of view to the Sight and Sound readers. 

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