Some of us take the whole notion of protecting the local blossoming film industry too far. Indie filmmakers may be struggling but that does not make them immune to criticism.
Getting flak for dissing a home-grown Pakistani indie filmmaker’s latest short film was not entirely unexpected. Neither was, for that matter, the argument arguing in favour of the film, which essentially said to “give credit to the filmmakers for trying”. A consolation prize. Something akin to: “You might be butt-ugly but thanks for being the only fish in our fish tank.”
At times I feel some of us take the whole notion of “protecting the local blossoming industry” a bit too far. Sure the local indie filmmakers, having spent their hard earned money on their labour of love, need to be appreciated for what they are doing. But that does not make them immune to criticism.
The appreciation, in my opinion, comes in the form of a local community space dedicating an entire room and screening equipment for two days so that the filmmakers can showcase their film. The appreciation comes in the form of people dropping their plans and showing up to watch it. It comes in the form of people hoping that the film would turn out great and will go on to gather fame and appreciation the world over.
But that is where appreciation ends. For someone to improve, for them to grow, you don’t tell them “top points for trying” but show them why their film failed to connect with you. How, perhaps, they can improve their next effort. You point out the mistakes, the flaws. The filmmakers will read your opinion for what they are worth and take what they want from them.
Very few filmmakers have been geniuses from the get go. You have to learn how to shoot before you can play with the big guns. And then you have to evaluate your skills. You have to learn from the mistakes you make. And that is where critical reviews come in. They could, in essence, help you identify places where you might have gone wrong.
Those stuck on mere “appreciation for effort” do not do the budding filmmakers of our country any good. After all, there is a whole ocean out there and our small little goldfishes have to grow some teeth before they can get out of the fish tank and play with the sharks.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.