‘The Resort’: a film about working in Caribbean tourism

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A post by Peter Jordens.

Marjuan Canady reports for Caribbean Current on the recent filming in Tobago of The Resort, a movie that provides an intriguing glimpse into the lives of workers in Caribbean tourism.

[…] Written and directed by Jamaican-American director, Shadae Lamar Smith, The Resort tells an honest story from the Caribbean worker’s experience. It is impossible to ignore the striking themes of male hyper-sexuality, female invisibility and the monotony of physical labor amongst the film’s characters.

The Resort highlights and exposes some very real truths of the Caribbean work experienced and the privileges of the island’s visitors. Inspired by the Caribbean worker psychology, Smith says, “I was interested in exploring the correlation of sexual politics and work in the Caribbean as well as examining the mundane realities of women contrasted to the shocking and unseen realities of men in the tourism workplace.”

The diverse team of filmmakers crafted this film on the southernmost Caribbean island of Tobago, the sister island of Trinidad. [… T]he team consisted of forty-two international filmmakers, producers, actors, designers and technical personnel from New York, Los Angeles, Trinidad and Tobago. Led by UCLA Master’s directing candidate, Shadae Lamar Smith, this film follows a group of beach boys and maids as they interact with visiting tourists on one unforgettable weekend. Shot on 16 mm, principal photography occurred on location in Tobago at a private villa in Arnos Vale and at Pigeon Point Beach. Director of photography, Dehanza Rogers, brought her cinematography expertise to the film, capturing the island’s raw beauty.

Supported by the UCLA Film School, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Commission, the production was met with tremendous support from local organizations and the larger Tobago community as the entire cast, excluding three actors, consisted of local Trinidadian and Tobagonian talent. […] A few of the local lead actors shared their own personal experiences working as fulltime maids and cooks in hotels on the island. These conversations revealed the importance of the [… film] and the many untold Caribbean stories that have yet to be disseminated out to the world.

In the past ten years, the Caribbean has been a popular site to shoot films. Smith respects the many filmmakers who have shot in the Caribbean but says, “I don’t necessarily seek to stand out from any of these films but more so to add my voice to the zeitgeist. I’m a young filmmaker and I’m trying to find my voice. I’m looking to tell an honest story from my perspective.” His commitment to exploring his own contribution to the international film industry is why he chose to shoot on location in Tobago.

The THA Community Development and Culture Secretary, Dr. Denise Tsoiaffat-Angus, spoke highly of Smith and the production coming to Tobago: “When we were approached by the company to do the film, we saw it as an opportunity to invest in the development of our young filmmakers and actors on the island.” Smith plans to return to Tobago in the summer of 2014 to offer film workshops to the community.

The Resort exposes the beauty, humor, pain and struggle that many Caribbean people face as workers in the tourism industry. As both co-producer and actress in the film, Marjuan Canady anticipates a critical reaction from audiences that will foster dialogue about Smith as a rising director, the film’s in-your-face themes and the current state of Caribbean cinema. The line producer, Sue-Ellen Chitunya, echoed similar sentiments: “It’s very important for filmmakers of color to tell stories like The Resort. Being able to tell our stories through moving pictures preserves culture and heritage that otherwise could be easily overlooked.” […]

The full, original article written by Marjuan Canady (The Resort co-producer and actress) is at http://thecaribbeancurrent.com/young-gifted-and-caribbean-filming-the-resort.

For more information about the collaboration between the film and the THA for developing young local filmmakers and actors, see this article by Sophia Cooper in the Tobago News, http://www.thetobagonews.com/news/Investing-in-developing-filmmakers-and-actors-in-Tobago-244616281.html.

The Resort has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theresortmovie. The above photo is by Marlon James from the Facebook page.

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