T&T filmmaker to feature in Pan African Film Festival

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Trinidad and Tobago filmmaker Yao Ramesar’s feature Haiti Bride, a Haiti/T&T co-production, has been selected in the feature film competition at the Pan African Film & Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the oldest and largest film festival in Africa, to be held Saturday and Sunday, Trinidad’s Express reports.

For the first time in the festival’s history, diaspora films are included in the main competition and are vying for the major Etalon de Yennenga–Africa’s major film award.

Ramesar’s mentor in film, the great Ethiopian director Haile Gerima, received the Etalon de Yennenga in 2009 for TEZA, which also copped prizes for best screenplay and the special jury prize at the 65th annual Venice Film Festival in 2008.
The select 20 features include the 2015 Oscar nominee, Timbuktu, along with the latest movies from many of the masters of contemporary African cinema.

It is an historic first for Haiti/Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean, and African diaspora cinema.

FESPACO takes place every two years in the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa.

Since its inception in 1969, the festival’s goal has been to “contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education and awareness-raising”.

FESPACO is the largest cultural event on the African continent, its elaborate opening and closing ceremonies and prominence for the African film industry has caused it to be dubbed “Africa’s Oscars”.

Ghana-born Ramesar’s feature Sistagod became the first T&T film to gain official selection at a major festival at the Toronto International Film Festival (2006).

Most recently, in August 2014, at ARTODOCS in St Petersburg, Russia, the film took the festival’s major award–the Grand Prix for Best Feature.

On taking his film to the biggest arts event on the African continent, Ramesar said: “I guess I have carried the title of African filmmaker (among other labels), having been directing films on and in the diaspora throughout the Americas and the Caribbean over the past three decades, and given that Africanity remains central to my aesthetic Caribbeing–manifest in my most recent film Haiti Bride–lensed in Haiti, itself on the cusp of becoming a member of the African Union”.

African audiences amount to approximately a billion people.

South Africa, where Ramesar began production on a recent feature, Shade, is one of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)–the emerging economic bloc–and boasts a sophisticated film industry.

“The time is ripe to make films on the continent itself. Beyond Shade, I am developing a romantic feature to be shot in Accra, Tamale and Kumasi in Ghana, along with a handful of other projects,” said Ramesar.

Haiti Bride centres on a young lady who leaves Haiti in 2004 with her family when President Jean Bertrand Aristide is thrown out of power, as the family is close to Aristide.

They are domiciled in New York, USA, and the parents vow never to return under the present political situation.
Some years later a Haitian man shows up in New York and falls in love with the girl. He wants to live in the States and she wants to go back to Haiti.

The family is livid, but they finally strike a compromise, which means they’ll have the wedding in Haiti. Unfortunately, the date and time of the wedding coincide with the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and left an estimated one million others homeless.

For the original report go to http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/TT-filmmaker-to-feature-in-Pan-African-Film-Festival-294132921.html

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