By Laws

(as of December 2001)*

I.           The Boston Society of Film Critics exists to make Boston’s unique critical perspective heard on a national and international level through the awarding commendations to the best of the year’s films, filmmakers, performers, and others; by helping assure that Boston remains among the best film-viewing cities in the nation, through awarding annual commendations to theatres and film societies offering outstanding programming; by acknowledging the achievements of filmmakers, directors, actors and actresses, screenwriters, and others, who have made extraordinary contributions to the cinema; and by encouraging excellence in film criticism by such means as shall from time to time be deemed appropriate.

II.          Membership in the Society shall be confined to individuals who are film critics regularly employed in a Boston-Worcester area journalistic medium – broadcast, Internet, or print – that is not a college or university medium; who appear as film critics in the medium at least once monthly and receive monetary payment for their work; who are not now nor have during the last year been in the paid employ of any motion picture maker, distributor, exhibitor, or publicity or advertising agency; who see in the course of their work as critics most of the major releases in any given year of membership; and who have reviewed for at least half of the year, consecutively, prior to election to membership. People whose work is chiefly devoted to features and interviews cannot be considered for membership.

To gain entrance into the Society, a candidate must be elected to membership by three-fourths (3/4) of the present members in secret balloting. A sample of the candidate’s work will be distributed to each member in advance of voting upon the candidate’s application for membership, along with voting ballots, which will be collected after a reasonable period of time. The membership maven and the president will tally the ballots and the president will inform both the candidate and the members of the Society’s decision.

A member may be removed from the BSFC either by a vote of one-half the members present, in secret balloting, or automatically, should the member no longer meet the above requirements, thus clearly disqualifying that person from further membership. The Society will always observe customary due process and collegial consideration, such that no unfair action is taken against a member.

A member may resign from the Society or, if desired, be granted “Honorable Withdrawal” status owing to a chance of circumstances, but may be readmitted to membership should those circumstances again change such that the above requirements for membership are met. An honorably withdrawn member will be held responsible for payment of dues or any other necessary assessments during the period of withdrawal if the Society’s president deems this necessary. Otherwise, an honorably withdrawn member will be considered one of the “separated brethren” rather than as in permanent exile.

III.        The society will meet once yearly in December on a date arrived at by consensus, at which meeting the members will vote awards, conduct ordinary housekeeping functions, and deal with any other matters as deemed necessary. The presiding officer will inform the members of the meeting’s date, that date having been agreed upon at the previous year’s meeting, and will conduct the deliberations of the Society.

IV.        The Society’s offers will include a president, treasurer, two secretaries, and an official to be known as the “membership maven.” The president will appoint a committee for the purpose of considering film retrospectives, discoveries, rediscoveries, and such other matters as shall be deemed necessary, in order to report to the full membership at the yearly December meeting. The president may, moreover, designate other ad hoc committees, if need be, to consider other matters, which committees’ deliberations will, if elected at the yearly meeting, and may but need not be reelected at subsequent meetings. They and the membership of any ad hoc committees will represent various media outlets and types.

Anyone planning to run for any of the offices of the Society must announce this intention at least seven days before the meeting at which the officers will be chosen.

V.          The Society will to the greatest extent possible be an informal and unbureaucratic organization, fulfilling its functions and providing pleasant association for the members. Its deliberations at any meeting, in correspondence, in telephone conversations, and elsewhere, shall be entirely confidential and remain solely within the membership. Only the final votes including runners-up held at the yearly meeting, news of new committee acting on behalf of the membership, will be made public. Violation of the confidentiality of intra-Society deliberations or correspondence will be ground for immediate dismissal from the Society. The unpublished or unlisted telephone numbers and residential addresses of members will not be given to any non-member for any reason without the express consent of the member whose privacy would thus be violated. Members who resign from the Societ6y or who are removed from the Society will not violate the confidentiality of Society members and deliberations, having agreed, in accepting membership, to safeguard that confidentiality.

VI.        A periodic accounting of the Society’s finances will be provided by the treasurer and secretary, who will also, sharing this duty with the presiding officer, distribute periodic correspondence to the membership and otherwise see to it that the membership is inform3ed of decisions made by the executive committee and that the membership’s interest and ideas are properly considered. The secretary will provide for the distribution, to those honored by the Society, of their certificates of commendation.

VII.       (Adopted 30 November 1989). The Constitution and By-Laws of the Boston Society of Film Critics may be amended by a minimum of two-thirds of the membership, of which a three-quarters vote of those voting must vote in the affirmative.

* The above is a revision of the Constitution and By-Laws originally approved 29 January 1984. This text incorporates changes adopted 30 November 1989 – one such change is hereinafter incorporated as section VII of the Constitution; 7 January 1990; 6 January 1991; 19 December 1993; discussed but not formally voted on during the December 1997 meeting; and voted on at the December 2000 meeting. The then-membership maven, David Brudnoy, who wrote the 1984 text, is instructed to revise it as voted on by the members, incorporating subsequent amendments and refining the wording of the document. This is then submitted to the president for approval, whereupon it is finalized and subsequently distributed to the entire membership.

Addendum for Membership, voted in (100%) 09/20/2010.

1.           The applicant must be a working movie critic whose reviews are published regularly – meaning at least on a monthly basis – in a newspaper, magazine, or website serving the greater Boston area, or who appears as part of a regular TV broadcast, radio show, or podcast serving the greater Boston area. A Boston-based critic for a non-regional website or other established media outlet outside the Boston area may be considered for admission. People whose work is chiefly devoted to features and interviews cannot be considered for membership, nor can anyone who during the past year has been in the paid employ of any motion picture maker, distributor, exhibitor, or publicity or advertising agency.

2.           The applicant should have and be able to show via his or her submitted clips an engaged interest in and working knowledge of all areas of cinema, including (but obviously not limited to) Hollywood blockbusters, genre films, foreign-language movies, independent cinema, classic films, and so on. An interest and/or expertise in only one or two areas of film – whether horror/sci-fi, experimental movies, classics, mainstream studio releases, etc – will disqualify an applicant for membership. The BSFC welcomes and is willing to consider for membership writers with well-rounded backgrounds in film history and the film industry and an understanding of film trends both in the US and abroad. Exceptions may be made in the instances of academics whose body of published film criticism is broad and established and who make a good faith effort to attend new releases.

3.           A BSFC member, if no longer working for an institution that satisfies membership requirements, shall have a one year grace period and then must show intent to meet membership requirements.

4.           It is most advantageous for a candidate to submit all work electronically. He or she should provide a cover letter stating how they meet the requirements of the BSFC and include 5 links to sample reviews.  Once submitted, the candidate will be voted on by the BSFC membership during a 30 day period. At the end of that period the votes will be tallied. The candidate will need to receive 75% yeas of the tally to gain admittance.  Non-votes and expressed abstentions will not be added to the tally. For the 75% yea vote to be valid, that 75% vote must be greater than 50% of the active BSFC membership.

Notable Policy Changes

A member who wants to run for an office such as president, secretatry or treasurer must be declaired their intention to the group no less than two weeks before the Annual Meeting. This policy was instituted to keep the Annual Meeting and leadership transitions running smoothly and to extend courtesy to encumbants.

Members must be paid in full on their dues and in good standing with the organization at least thirty days prior to the Annual Meeting in order to attend and participate in it.

Members who are absentee from two consecutive membership votes can be barred from the Annual Meeting.

Mebership application process is now restricted to the period begining April 1st and ending at the end of April. Any candidate who submitts their name after will be encouraged to apply the following year. The process is no longer a revolving door.


 On the first round of any category we vote for only one candidate.  The winner must get the majority of submitted votes.

  1. If there is no winner, we proceed to round two, during which we vote for three candidates, rank-ordered.  Choice #1 receives three points, choice #2 two points and choice #3 one point.  Please submit a full ballot, as your choices are devalued if you submit only one or two (i.e., a single vote on a ballot is worth only one point; two votes on a ballot are worth two and one point respectively).  The winner must receive the most points and appear on a majority of ballots.
  2. If there is still no winner, the proxy votes drop out for round three.  We keep voting until there is a winner.  If there’s still no winner after a third or perhaps a fourth round, we sometimes decide as a group to have a run-off between the two closest candidates or take other similar measures to secure a winner.
  3. According to the rule we voted in place two years ago, we vote for a candidate for one film only, not for his or her body of work in a given year.  However, once we have decided on a winner we can, if we choose to as a group, broaden the award to include other work he or she has done during the year.
  4. There has been and will continue to be debate over whether some performances belong in the leading or supporting category.  It is, of course, helpful if we’re all in agreement, so we tend to discuss the categorizing of certain performances beforehand.  However, you are under no obligation to conform to the prevailing sentiment; vote with your heart.
  5. You may abstain in any round in any category, but please let the secretary know because your abstention may alter the number of votes needed for a winner.
  6. The following is the list of categories:

Best Picture
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Film
Best Documentary
Best Director
Best New Filmmaker
Best Screenplay
Best Film Editing
Best Use of Music in a Film
Best Ensemble
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress

We vote for Best Ensemble before voting on the four individual acting awards to avoid too much of an overlap.  We vote for Best Picture before Best Foreign Language Film; if the winner for Best Picture is a foreign language film, then our final vote is for Best English Language Film.