WHY IS FILM CRITICISM NOT POSITIVELY TAKEN IN KENYA'S FILM INDUSTRY?
“Creatives are a bunch of cry babies who cannot take corrections” says a friend to me. Words that I remind myself whenever I see a film or series on TV and I want to publicly cry out “who the hell made this mockery of a show?” Like I always say however, it is a very thin line between hating on someone’s work and critiquing it. The former to me is saying “that movie sucks” and leaving it at that while the latter is saying “that movie lacks ABCD and if added EFGH it could have been better”.
We however don’t have Film critics in Kenya or people bold enough to come out and critique Kenyan movies and films. This therefore leaves filmmakers to imaginations that suit them and a public that don’t have much of a choice but to eat what is dished out and opt for Hollywood TV instead, perhaps because poor reviews can doom a film to obscurity and financial loss. Something not worth doing because our film industry is not a booming business yet compared to that of Hollywood.
The few who have dared come out publicly to do a bad review or a review that doesn’t sing praises of a movie have been met with abuses and hostility like one Steven Anderson Wekesa who critiqued Nairobi Half Life, one of the best movies Kenya has produced and dubbed the movie a half baked cake. See the comments in the article here to see what I mean.
As a passionate creative, I can relate to being critiqued and truth is I also don’t like it and get very defensive whenever someone talks ill of my creative work and I expect whatever I do to be liked by all. In an ideal world, sure, that is possible but not in the practical world we live in. Not everyone will like what you do as that is just human nature I guess.
We however grow and learn from criticism and that is something every creative needs to be susceptible to. After all, we do produce films for an audience. An audience whose taste, IQ and opinions differ and that is something we need to accept. We need more Kenyan film critics to come out and say what needs to be improved in our movies and where. Film Criticism in other parts of the world is so big that Hollywood even has an award ceremony where film critics come together and choose the best of the best. The Critics' Choice Movie Awards are bestowed annually by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) to honor the finest in cinematic achievement.
Film criticism is defined by Wikipedia as the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in journals. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film.
Do film critics have a future though when social media has made everyone who can type a critic in their own right?
Today arts criticism in general does not hold the same place it once held with the general public and perhaps even after writing this we won’t see many critics coming up. The same friend who called Creatives a bunch of cry babies also added that we need to build an industry in Kenya first before thinking of getting critics to come out and criticize. What will they be criticizing now in the 1st place when an average of 10 movies is made in a year? TV programs and serieses? Perhaps. But those don’t depend on public opinion in order for them to run or make money but on the TV stations. Movies on the other hand do and the day Kenyan movies start making millions and Kenyans can run to cinema theatres to watch movies, Film Critics right now are nothing but a bunch of people who have opinions that don’t add much value to the industry.
Written by Gerald Langiri
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