caribBEING Interviews Filmmaker Janluk Stanislas

film-7caribBEING—a non-profit organization that presents film series, art exhibitions, and other cultural programs related to the Caribbean and the Diaspora—interviews Janluk Stanislas, a filmmaker from Guadeloupe whose projects include Trafik d’Info and SLASKLIPS.

caribBEING: Can you tell us about how and why you became a filmmaker? What kind of training you’ve had? And what inspired you about film as a medium?

Janluk Stanislas: When I was much younger, I used to go to the movies with father, in the early 70s when I was a kid and we would watch a lot of television at home so images were constantly around me. The show Roots also really inspired me because it was part of my identity being from the French Caribbean. And when I grew up, I was really into images and sounds. My mom also played piano and introduced my brother and me to art. And, one day she bought a camera. The turning point was when I saw movies from America and realized what I wanted to do: I wanted to tell the stories of my people and my country. There are two movies in particular that inspired me when I was young. One was the 1982 Ghandi film by Richard Attenborough and the other was Sugar Cane Alley by Euzhan Palcy—one of the 1st French Caribbean movies that put us on the map.

[. . .] I then attended a school for filmmaking and acting in France where my process of making movies began. After two years in Paris, I decided to go back to my country, Guadeloupe, and my career really began there.

caribBEING: What were/are the challenges you face as a filmmaker on a low budget? How do you work around this?

Janluk Stanislas: When you are a young director, you always want to make your own movie. You don’t care about the industry, which is how I felt in the beginning. I wanted to shoot, direct and make my own experiences. When you’re practicing, you have to shoot them yourself, edit them yourself, and get feedback from yourself. It’s a work in progress. You have to put your hand in the fire and just do it. In the beginning, I was working as an assistant but I went back to my country very early because I realized it was the right place for me to make my movies because I wanted to first talk about myself, my people, and our stories which all take place in that space—Guadeloupe and the Caribbean.

I started working on music videos because it was a way to expand on my training and school classes. A lot of people know me as being a video director because I’ve directed over 37-39 music videos to date. People said I was one of the first one who introduced acting sequences into music videos. [. . .] I was also inspired by film festivals devoted to African diaspora films, like All Shades of Black; I remember this festival only took place for four years, which really made me understand what a director was in that space in the Caribbean. When I see African movies, I see myself in them–same with American, French. Cuban and Jamaican films.

Even in 2005 when I made Trafik d’Info, we still didn’t have any funding. Trafik D’Info was made from of a community-partnership experience. I was part of a collective of artists called because we wanted to create a specific language between the arts—poetry, music, dance, paint, and cinema. One production company gave us all the equipment and another gave us everything needed for post-production.

We brought all the energy of all the people who were following us at the time because we were really engaged even though we didn’t have the money.

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