“The Diaspora and Region shines” featuring reviews on Brown Girl Begins, Flight, Going Down, and Kinto
EXCERPT: This year’s festival also showed the customary trend of a precarious knife’s edge of quality – films with exciting potential screened alongside a few “non-starters”. Despite some opinions against the inclusion of the latter, we should continue to support all efforts regardless of our expectations. The very important mantra of “seeing ourselves” on the big screen, remains a powerful medium by which our people can confront, assess, fix our flaws and inspire ourselves to strive on.
Home is where the HEROs are
T&T films truly shine when the lens is pointed at people who have led extraordinary lives and done remarkable things. This year’s lineup offered several inspirational gems in the documentary and docu-drama categories. Retracing the steps of the amazing and indefatigable Anang Mavis Dorothy Lai Awa-Russel-Mathis-Greenberg -Mazzarino in Nang by Nang is an inspiring cinematic experience. Born in a rural village in Moruga, Trinidad in 1920s to Chinese/French/ African and Amerindian parents, Nang seems to have lived many lives, from dancing with Boscoe and Geoffrey Holder to becoming a model, excelling as a Registered Nurse, being a cinema operator and surviving three husbands, Nang’s path is both sorrowful and joyous – a testimony to the wonderful audacity of a life truly and fully lived.
Carnival Messiah: The Film and Documentary gives an intimate look behind the scenes of the hit musical and featured the filmed version of its magical 2007 stage performance at Harewood House in the UK. The film, directed by Leeds filmmaker and photographer Ashley Karrell and promoted under the Geraldine Connor Foundation, captures this spectacular theatrical event, and shares insight into the musical’s formation through the collective experiences and retellings of its interviewed cast and crew. Through the entire film runs the genius of the musical’s originator – British ethnomusicologist, theatre director, composer and performer, Geraldine Connor, born to Trinbagonian parents who emigrated to Britain in the 1940s. The filmed version of the stage performance lovingly captures very minute and nuanced details of this ground-breaking work – a fusion of the diversity of Trinidad and Tobago culture, traditions, religion, performance art and the baroque era masterpiece oratorio of Handel’s Messiah.
The star of the Festival was its opening film, HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross. Carried by an engaging Freetown Collective soundtrack and mapped together by a photography-driven trail of memories, HERO The film moved from highlighting Cross’ familial origins, his many educational and military accolades to take on a larger, more expansive tale of his role in the Pan-African movement.
Cross played by actor Nickolai Salcedo, had a crucial role in doing the hard, legal ground work of constitutional drafting and implementation, akin to literal nation-building across African countries gaining independence in the 1970s. The film swiftly drew the audience from there into an unexpectedly thrilling, international, political conspiracy, spy-versus-spy whirlwind. Cross is shown as the quiet catalyst in forging the bones beneath the muscles of black independence, fighting to free itself from colonial rule.
Trinbagonian film director Frances-Anne Solomon should be commended on her work with this film and for reenergizing the efforts of Caribbean storytellers owning and sharing our own narratives on our own terms. In HERO, Cross’ contribution, like many Trinbagonian contributors to the history of Pan Africanism, cannot be understated. Inspirational and eye-opening, HERO tells the tale of one man’s aspirations pushed to their full potential both in and external to the Caribbean and how deeply involved this son of the soil was, unflinchingly positioned at the epicenter of meaningful and historical change.
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