There isn’t a time in my life that I haven’t been fascinated by moving pictures. This quietly morphed into a lifelong fixation with movies, and books, and movies about books, and books about movies. From classic family films from England and Hollywood to Bollywood musicals, blockbusters, comedies, adult leaning dramas and Nollywood films, my cinematic tastes have evolved as I have grown.
Film criticism is a natural fit for me but a weird one too as both audiences and filmmakers are not quite sold on the role or place of the critic in the context of the film industry. Cinema culture only recently made a comeback in Nigeria and the mostly independent film industry is still struggling to make films fit for theatrical release. So, the working critic in my position, exists in an interesting space. Not merely as an interpreter seeking value or relevance in a work of art, or an informed guide to audiences to make smart choices. But also as a truth teller, speaking uncomfortable feedback to filmmakers, in ways that are sensitive enough to build the industry and not break the confidence of both audiences and filmmakers who are working hand in hand to build a working industry where there was none only thirty years ago.
The film industry in my home country is dealing with change as newer channels powered by the internet have come to disrupt how films are made and distributed. My work involves making sense of it all, wading through the clutter and documenting the growth.
At Talent Press, I look forward to opening new vistas in my mind through my interactions with colleagues from other cultures around the world. I also look forward to engaging with experienced film critics, facilitators and all the resource persons. There aren’t many opportunities such as this in Nigeria as I work in an industry that does not see the need to prioritize culture reporting or film criticism. Funding challenges are not helping matters either and it takes passionate publishers and writers to continue to promote film related content. In 2017, I was part of the Talent Press participants at the Durban International Film Festival. Last year, I was selected to participate in the Young Critics Program at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam. My participation in these programmes has been invaluable to my career growth. I recognize the need for world best practices and I have dedicated myself to keeping up with the latest trends in critical thinking, analysis and filmmaking techniques as I continue to attempt a career in culture journalism.
It is hard, thankless work but it is work that means plenty to me.