Two years ago today, I used the free Wi-Fi of a Gloria Jeans Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City and published DtC's first article, which was a review of 'Snowpiercer' by Ammar Akhtar. If you had asked me that day, what makes DtC different than any other movie review website on the internet, I couldn't have told you. I would have given you an on-the-spot answer like: "We are made up of a diverse team of writers in terms of background, ethnicity, gender and age." But in all honesty, I chose to click the "Publish" button in that weirdly lit cafe only because I knew a whole lot of creative and unique people who were looking for a platform to share their opinions. I wasn't trying to make DtC the most diverse review website in the world, the most popular website, or even the one with the best articles. It really wasn't about that at first. We were just a bunch of people who liked publishing articles on a black and yellow strange HTML website.
In the first year, despite starting with true intentions like the joy of writing, I tried my hardest to make sure DtC got popular. I began to learn website design, joined hundreds of Facebook fan groups for different films and shared (or spammed) every article on there. I also pasted the links in the comments section of big film news companies. After being kicked out of and getting banned from countless groups and pages, we were gaining some popularity. 10k likes on Facebook was a big milestone...for high-schoolers, but we didn't see ourselves as high-schoolers writing critiques, we saw ourselves as critics writing critiques. It never felt enough. I didn't even pay these people but for the devotion we shared, we stuck together. We kept writing.
We've had many writers come and go. Currently we have four dedicated writers. Me, Aidan and Ammar who have been here since the beginning and Debby who has more recently joined. We had times when we published every day and times when we didn't publish for weeks. Our first articles in 2014 aren't the best. Our articles now are much much better. I've been looking at the hundreds of articles we've written and it only took me two years to realise our subconscious goal and the point to all this, in addition to the joy of writing and being a film-loving family.
We are living in a culture where crude and tasteless mockery is perceived as film critique. If you read articles by the popular websites or watch video reviews on YouTube, it sometimes makes you wonder why these people even bother going to the cinema. Even in our first articles where we joked more and were a bit harsh, the love for film was there. I know I can speak for the team when I say that we believe film is the best form of expression. We write articles where we talk about what worked and what didn't. We aim to create consciousness and an appreciation of the beautiful art form called filmmaking.
It's a bad metaphor but, just like a dream, the realisation of the meaning came after the dream itself. But our dream is not over. We are on the 104th issue of our weekly newsletter and we have many articles coming soon so stay tuned. There is more in store for Devotion to Cinema and for true film-lovers out there...
- Daghan Dalgic