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Fired Village Voice Movie Critic J. Hoberman Pens His Farewell Note

The alternative weekly let go the long-time critic Wednesday — but, sorry, he’s got no sour grapes

J. Hoberman’s departure from the Village Voice Wednesday shocked many in the film community. But don’t get expect Hoberman to strike back at his former publication.

While laid-off journalists have often used the opportunity to spurn their former paper, Hoberman opted for class and gratitude upon finding out his long-time employer was letting him go.

He sent a note to his colleagues — as well as posting on his own website — reflecting on how his time at the publication impacted his life.

“I’ve had a pretty good run in what, for me, was the greatest job imaginable,” Hoberman wrote. “I learned nearly everything I know about writing and a good chunk of what I know about life at the Voice; the paper gave me space to invent myself (that is, develop my own particular interests and means of expression), as well as the opportunity to work with some of the smartest, most interesting and most creative people I’ve been fortunate to meet — and I’m not talking about on-screen or in interviews.”

The Voice has laid off a series of prominent writers and editors over the past few years as cost-cutdting measures — from Dennis Lim to Michael Atkinson to Nathan Lee. Hoberman now tops that list.

As for any sour grapes? No thank you.

“I have no regrets and whatever sadness I feel is outweighed by a sense of gratitude. Thirty-three years is a long time to be able to do something that you love to do, to champion things you want to champion, and to even get paid for it. I feel lucky that my last piece praised two movies that I greatly admire (at Film Forum and Anthology no less) and allowed me go out with a plug for Occupy Wall Street!”

Also Read: Two Longtime Writers Out at the Village Voice

Hoberman rose to prominence for his reviews of international and avant garde cinema, often bringing in a bit of politics.

He started at the Voice in the 1970s, becoming a regular reviewer in 1978 and a full-time staffer in 1983. His first review was of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.”

He wrote several books, including “The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism” and “On Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (and other Secret-Flix of Cinemaroc.”

Anne Thompson of Indiewire gave Hoberman a brief tribute, writing “Hoberman is an independent voice. He doesn't write like anyone else. (And I can testify, having edited him at Film Comment, that no one writes cleaner copy.) He's sober, clear, discerning, and defines integrity.”