South Africa’s Growing Online Film Critic Culture

Tiny Couch Review (TCR) and Reviews on Tap (ROT) are two entities that seek to bring back the magic of cinema to the people while encouraging the modern day South African to go out there and actually watch movies at the cinema.

Tiny Couch Review started by Lerato Serumula, the website is a review aggregator and user community for things like books, films, TV, anime, games, and music. Tiny Couch offers users a platform in which users can make their own personal opinions in the aforementioned categories.

Since its inception, the site has been growing at a rapid rate and with a strong fan base. The Tiny Couch team and users over the past year have been slowly but surely influencing viewing culture on social media, with them encouraging users and social media to support local films so that they can share their thoughts online. Lerato the founder of Tiny Couch Review has big plans for the brand as she seeks to encourage audiences to watch more and write more, with this she hopes that local filmmakers will get an insight to where the audience is at in terms of headspace, which will help them create better-suited content.

The future of TCR is expanding, with the team being invited to pre-screens of upcoming local films that they watch and review for the site. TCR isn’t just a review aggregator though as it also provides “Tiny Articles” which are opinion piece articles from users that allow them to share their opinions about anything entertainment related. These Tiny Articles have spawned thought-provoking theories on beloved films, top 10 lists, and opinions about South Africa’s film industry.

As much as Tiny Couch Review is all about watching, reading, listening and playing and sharing your thoughts, on the other side of the spectrum we have Reviews on Tap from the YouTube channel Anarchadium which is a YouTube channel that houses the popular Broke Niggaz and MicroWave Boys series. So far Reviews on Tap features two reviewers, Menzi who is responsible for the channel and Sphamandla who decided to turn his love for film into a career.

Sphamandla left his corporate job to pursue film and thus landing him at Reviews on Tap, unlike Tiny Couch Review where reviews and opinions are mostly written, Reviews on Tap offers audiences who don’t want to read or write a platform where they can watch someone else review the film for them.

Sphamandla hopes that Reviews on Tap will become so big that when a video doesn’t drop there’s mass hysteria, he also hopes for it to grow beyond film reviews and hopes for a creation of an audience database for their next show.

Since its inception earlier this year, Reviews on Tap has reviewed three South African films which are; the still controversial Inxeba (The Wound), the Pearl Thusi rom-com Catching Feelings and the afro-western Five Fingers for Marseilles. The reviewers offer a more audience-centered approach to the videos, the informality of it makes one feel like they’re watching a friend tell them about the movie they just watched. Reviews on Tap also seeks to explore more African cinema so that they can tap into a market which was never really explored.

I should also mention the underrated YouTube channel NqanaweLIVE, a channel that seeks to create a culture of appreciation for South African film and the support and celebration of cinema. It’s with these kinds of channels that ensure the future of African film appreciation.

Both Tiny Couch Review and Reviews on Tap have realized the hidden potential in film criticism, they seek to open up the market and also create open channels of dialogue between audiences and film-makers. The future is bright for both these brands with the hope that they reach other African countries and inspire a continental film criticism movement.

Contributed By Linda Radebe.

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