Meet the Critics
Peter Debruge
Born in Los Angeles then transplanted to Waco, Texas, Peter Debruge grew up in a household where TV viewing wasn’t allowed. Instead he read the classics, comics and, as his fascination with cinema grew, dozens of those crude “based on a screenplay by” novelizations of blockbuster movies. To say his parents’ plan backfired would be an understatement, but when the floodgates opened, 15 years of limited access to most things Hollywood did encourage a different, more critical way of looking at movies from his peers.

Peter attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied film and served as entertainment editor of The Daily Texan. It is said that Austin has the country’s best live-music scene, but Peter was too busy playing catch-up on movies (via the Alamo Drafthouse, local video stores and the SXSW Film Festival) to find out. After graduating, he moved to New York, where he worked for Entertainment Weekly and AOL Moviefone before relocating to Los Angeles.

He now serves as chief film critic for Variety, where he has worked since 2005, including a two-year stint in Paris, when he focused on covering the international festival circuit. In 2017, Peter helped co-found the Animation Is Film Festival in Los Angeles, and he was been a member of juries at the SXSW, Reykjavik, Molodist, COLCOA, Annecy and Cannes film festivals.

Back in his freelance days, he reviewed for the Austin Chronicle, Miami Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His writing on film has also appeared in such publications as Backstory, IndieWire, Creative Screenwriting and Life magazine. For four years, he taught a graduate film studies course at Chapman University’s Dodge College. Peter has won various awards for his writing, but is most proud of two honors bestowed for his dedication to foreign cinema: the Prix Alliance Française and a Palme d’Or from the country of Belgium.