A film festival changed my life. The 2007 International Film Festival of India was supposed to be an excuse to skip college to get high on a beach in Goa. Instead I almost ended up living at the movie theater; sustained on a diet of visual enlightenment and caramel-cheese popcorn (another revelation), and sleeping during the Chinese period movies.
It was like seeing a painting for the first time. Until then, serious cinema did not exist for me. Movies had meant Hollywood or Bollywood. Art movies meant black-and-white boredom. In Italian. In the BBC broadcast training program, we are taught to first write and record the news story and then to edit the footage. The words uttered by the news anchor was primary, everything else was an airbrush. The eye can blink or look away but the ear is unforgiving.
For a movie, music and dialogue delivery play this role. But cinema has evolved. The medium has become the message. One cannot appreciate cinema without a certain level of visual literacy. The role of a critic is sometimes defined as the teacher of this literacy. But you can only keep teaching and re-teaching alphabets to a certain extent. This should be done in schools. Especially here in the UAE (where I did my schooling), art education is limited to sketching an apple or making glittery stationary pouches.
And this leaves the critic free to teach poetry.
by Ziad Abdul Samad