Some 12 writers, journalists and film consumers at various stages of their career came together for a seven-day film criticism workshop at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi , Kenya (October 23-29, 2008).
Held in the frame work of the 3rd Kenya International Film Festival and facilitated by film historian, lecturer and freelance film critic Philip Kemp, the workshop looked at the basic principles underlying film reviewing, what film reviews are and how they arose, and also why reviews continue to be written and who reads them. Also looked at was how writers can meet the requirements of various publics and publications, and also how to tailor one’s writing to a specific readership.
Whether seasoned or up-and-coming journalist, all participants seemed to agree that they learned something new from the workshop.
Ogova Ondego, an arts critic who publishes ArtMatters.Info and conducts workshops in creative journalism across Africa, challenged the participants to be more productive by sitting through a film screening and doing proper reviews instead of copying and pasting press releases and reviews from internet sites as, he said, is happening in many parts of Africa, including Kenya.
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The Workshop provided a forum for the participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another as well as build networks for both the development of their own career and also for Kenya’s fledgling film sector that badly needs direction from well equipped film critics and journalists. This training workshop is only a small portion of what is really needed to get Kenya to the next level.
“This was the first workshop I had facilitated other than for my academic teaching,” Kemp said afterwards. “Keen participants inquired a lot in their attempt to learn more about this craft.”
Kemp, 65, teaches film journalism at Leicester University in England. His book, Lethal Innocence, was published in 1994. It tackles the work of film director Alexander Mackendrick. Kemp is writing another book for the British Film Institute on films by film director Satyajit Ray.
Apart from his academic work, Kemp contributes regularly to various publications, including the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound, and Total Film and DVD Review.Â He introduces film screenings at the Polish Cultural Institute and other places in London and conducts radio and television interviews on film and reviews books on cinema.
Nairobi was his first African experience and he said he found it exciting and safe.
“I look forward to coming back, probably next year” Kemp, whose presence in Nairobi was made possible by Goethe-Institut in Kenya, said.