Criticism is one aspect of the creative industry that hardly gets any credit, and in some cases, is subjected to sneers and contempt. We find that many creatives view criticism with disdain, and more often than not, unfavourable reviews are viewed by adoring fans as “words of a hater”. The truth, however, is that critiquing is important for any creative who wants to grow in their craft, and with particular respect to literary criticism, any writer who cannot stand a honest review of his work, even where it seems scathing, has no business holding a pen.
Ifeoluwa Olujuyigbe, a graduate of Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, is a blogger, screenwriter and critic. She enjoys a huge following on Facebook, and her features have appeared in Brittle Paper, Naija Stories, True Nollywood Stories (where she regularly reviews Nollywood movies) and The Naked Convos. Ifeoluwa emerged first-runner up at this year’s Creetiq Challenge, narrowly losing out on the grand prize. Ahead of final preparations for the screening of “Parting Gift” (a short film whose screenplay she co-wrote with 2016 Writivism Short Story Prize finalist Joe Aito) at the Africa International Film Festival, we caught up with Ifeoluwa and had a brief chat with her. Enjoy.
BM: Congratulations on emerging finalist at the inaugural edition of the Creetiq Critic Challenge held earlier this year.
IFE: Thank you very much.
BM: Out of curiosity, our team have combed through the net and it’s like you have managed to stay under the radar “social media-wise” but still managed to stay relevant in the literary circle. Who is Ife?
IFE: Well, I wouldn’t say I have been totally under the radar social media wise. I have a decent Facebook following (okay, let me just say here that Facebook is like a second home to me. I put a lot of stuff there, have participated in competitions, won prices, landed jobs and generally grown my art there too.)
I would say Ife is a person who loves to challenge herself. I see something achievable in the line of my passion, and I tell myself I would reach for it. It is how a lot of things have worked for me. An instance is last year’s Ake and AFRIFF festivals, both of which I attended, the former for my literary passion, the latter for my film-loving, aspiring film-making side. I made two decisions in both places for things I wanted to happen for myself this year at both festivals, and one of them is going to happen at this year’s festival. The other nearly did.
I am also one who writes a lot, thinks a lot, can’t live without humour, and still has a lot to offer. And let me just add here that I think plantain is overrated. Hahaha.
BM: Of all genres, why did you critique Bariga Shuga as your entry for the Creetiq challenge? What was the catch?
IFE: It’s a really funny story, my entry decision. I had decided to critique a music album instead. Books were a no-no because that meant I was going to have to read them and I didn’t have time on my hands. The films too were almost out because I had seen virtually every one of them and reviewed them for other purposes, reviews that had already been published online. So I downloaded three albums and listened intently to them, started writing on two of them. But it just wasn’t flowing at the time and every time I write something that isn’t flowing, it comes off as forced. So I decided on movies two days to the deadline, one that I had already reviewed but was going to have to re-review, and Bariga Shuga, which was the only one I hadn’t seen but could afford to watch in less than thirty minutes. It worked, and I submitted both.
It turned out I particularly enjoyed watching Bariga Shuga. It is such an honest film, a film that doesn’t try to be what it is not. I loved it, and I applaud Ifeoma Chukwuogo.
BM: Nollywood, Hollywood, or Bollywood or Ifewood?
IFE: Ifewood, please. (insert laughing-crying smiley here)
I love all the woods, to be honest, including Telenovela-wood. I watch everything because I can learn from every one of them. Bollywood’s clean cinematography is to die for (here, I mean the movies not the television shows on Zee World). Hollywood and the depth of intelligence and hard work that goes into their storytelling just give me life. And Nollywood and our growth rate?Astounding.Have you seen my essay online about Telemundo? Their actors are so talented, and their continuity is magic. Why do you think they have so many loyal followers all over the world?
BM: What do you think of Creetiq? Real deal or flash in the pan?
Creetiq is the real deal, and I’m not saying it because this is what they want to hear. An aggregation of critiques on music, movies and literature is something I personally have not seen before, and with its ingenuity, I also see class. Have you checked out the site? It is so clean.
I think the Critic Challenge was lovely for a maiden edition. The voting thing might have been my only challenge, but I understand why it had to be. Moving forward, I can only imagine how better the competition would get.
BM: Do you think people actually appreciate the necessity and need for robust criticism in the quest to improve our arts scene?
Not initially, but it is catching on. Folks call me on the phone to know when I would post my critiques of certain movies before they decide to go see them, even movies on Netflix. For the audience, it is a way of saving themselves the trouble of seeing a bad film, or at least knowing what to expect. For the filmmakers, it is feedback that would either give them a pat on the back, or the ginger to do better. I realise that our storytelling has grown many times better because of critics, something that Hollywood has had in the bag for decades. Nobody likes to be told that their work isn’t great, but if it is what would make it great, then by all means, tell.
BM: What did you think of the last movie you saw at the cinema? An ah-ha or Arrrrrrrghhhh moment?
A big Ah-ha, plus a ‘hey God!’. Where Nollywood is going ehn, I cannot wait for the world to see. Catch.er is the last movie I saw, and it is a beautiful movie, one I would be proud to take my Nollywood-skeptic friends to see.
BM: Thank you for your time.
IFE: You are welcome.