Hosea Jembo, a film maker has offered to educate journalist Timothy Kalyegira who criticized the recently premiered film Queen of Katwe.
You better read the lecture yourself;
Dear Timothy Kalyegira
There is something that has been bothering me a little and I hope you’ll allow me to share my heart with you respectfully and in love.
I’m a filmmaker and the topic here won’t be a surprise. Having read your ‘professional criticism’ of the film Queen Of Katwe and your attempt to reason it later, I beg to educate you on the trade you chose to be an overnight expert.
There is a clear difference between criticism and your style of criticism, which would be insulting people and the things not near your personal ‘standards’.
Unlike you, for me to respond to your banter about the Queen Of Katwe film, I read the full length of your article, reread it and then sat down to educate you on the matter. Learning never stops.
This is how you lost it.
1. You got an invitation on email for a film premiere. Your name not being on the list perhaps meant they had realized the mistake they made and cancelled you out but you still went ahead and hustled your way through – in a true Ugandan style – but then you kept your critical self when the beauty at the gate showed you the wrong cinema. You still didn’t get it and insisted on entering. Double standards right there. You applied your Ugandan bit successfully to enter and then expected everyone else to keep it international. The international standards would not have got you a seat! YOUR NAME WAS NOT ON THE LIST.
2. For a Film Premiere, you put so much emphasis on the ‘before screening’. It’s apparent this was your first. Who made you a film critic? In true Ugandan style you owned it up. How you become a critic is from having observed patterns and read how things are done but most importantly experience. Queen of Katwe was the first Hollywood financed film to hold a premiere in Uganda. From where did you gather your expertise? Last King of Scotland 10 years ago just held a special screening for Crew and well-wishers. Why are you hiding reportage under criticism?
3. Your language – ‘Katwe – Uganda style’, ‘typical Ugandan attitude’, ‘knowing Uganda as I do’… and a white Afrikaan woman ‘doing the right thing’…angry with the poor timekeepers just like you. In fact you only rolled with white decisions only, white showed you the door, and another white led you out of the cinema, perhaps white invited you by mistake. Dear Timothy, in my world you set off on a journey expecting problems, problems you found. While you were busy trying to sneak into a Cinema uninvited – you were not on the list. Queen Nagginda, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga all rocked our version of a carpet. Since there was nothing wrong with that session, your negative focused eyes missed all.
4. Your line… “And so after twenty minutes of one of the most embarrassing experiences of the year for me, I got out of the screening room and sighed with relief.” Is the worst form of reportage any upcoming film critic can do in the film trade. Dear Timothy, THE FILM IS 120 MINUTES. You watched for 20minutes? Lets go famous; Titanic, by the twentieth minute, the ship had not even left dock; the biggest story was in the water. Gladiator; by the twentieth minute, Maximus had not even said 15 lines. Predator took over 40 minutes before we could make sense of the great piece, Joan of Arc, Return of the Jedai… Timothy, film has what we call an arc. That inciting incidence changes from time to time but it’s the defining one of whether the story works. Papa, your impatience can’t qualify you for a film critic. You fully analyze a 120-minute film in the first 20. You hurriedly left before it could change your mentality.
5. Ugandan English; Dear Timothy, let me tell you about a story at the risk of you not understanding it. In the 1980’s while you and the rest of your folks were playing who kills who in Uganda, neighboring Kenya was hosting the biggest Hollywood productions on this continent. It was the typical set for Africa. It had the wild animals, it still has. With each production, the local actors would improve their acting skills, and perfect their English. They had name credits in Hollywood films bro. An actor from another African country Benin, Djimon Gaston Hounsou, entered glamorous Hollywood in the 90’s from France, same time with the polished lot from Africa. Since his entry, no African actor has surpassed Djimon in winning casting roles of an African. Throughout all his movies, Djimon, who was the fourth African to be nominated for an Oscar, has never spoken fluent English in a single film. Ugandan English! That’s Uganda man. Apocalypto, which tanked $120 million, was in a language near extinction – it had subtitles all through the movie!
6. Your words…‘Queen of Katwe’ should not come to the attention of Europe’s far-right, anti immigration parties…why Timo why? What makes you think we need an approval from a ‘higher authority’? The emerging middle class that’s defined by phones and the things you mentioned don’t need an approval from any of your colonial masters to make great. Whereas you are free to get embarrassed on their behalf, and worried about Mediocrity sweeping over, they are not even looking. The narrative shifted. The last they looked, we lost all the minerals. This is an African story for the world, don’t lower your standards but you can also use some African goggles. Every generation worries about the one coming. It is normal to phase out without insults. In my Film career I have travelled in 19 African countries against your sampled FOUR. I can, with confidence, tell you that amidst the ‘mediocrity’ we are finding ourselves. May not be readily defined by your masters and their/your standards that they left behind. Don’t worry about us. The literature you studied didn’t stop the wars. Other methods did, and you stand here to worry about Africa that doesn’t give attention to details…you are spending so much time online.
Lastly…As for sports, for analysts and all way down to commentators, preference is made to former players, managers or administrators. You are not an expert on film, you can’t sit through one, right there, you don’t qualify. So your alternative views don’t count. Apologies are accepted.
Criticism relates to questioning or disagreeing with something and which is usually (and should be) backed with logical reasoning. Whereas, insult is an emotional outburst to display the dislike for something with usually no backing with logic or reason.