The T&T Film Festival, one of the most-anticipated events on the T&T entertainment calendar begins tonight and runs until September 29. Named as one of the “world’s 25 coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, TTFF/15 promises more than 100 local, regional and international films that should excite film buffs in Trinidad and of course, Tobago. Some of the highlights include Bazodee, starring soca star Machel Montano; Trafficked directed by A Story About Wendy director Sean Hodgkinson and classic Caribbean films Rue Cases Negres and The Harder They Come.
T&T Guardian film writer, BC Pires, previews the main human attractions of the TTFF/15 and every day of the Festival, his selections will be showcased in the newspaper as well as a schedule of the day’s films.
The tenth TT Film Festival starts tonight with a potow-pow at Queen’s Hall, with former Fugees rapper, Pras Michel, the film producer, joining its director, Ben Patterson, to personally introduce the opening film.
Sweet Micky for President is an unusual documentary about an even more unusual event—the election of Haiti’s most outrageous domestic pop star as Haitian president ahead of, amongst others, former President Rene Preval—and, as it happens—former Fugee, Wyclef Jean. The film alone makes the $200 ticket worthwhile but it also covers pre-screening cocktails and the after-party.
Many of the festivals almost 150 feature, medium, short and new media films will have that very special film festival bonus of one or more of the filmmakers and stars being present to talk about their films, but the genuine film lover is likely to get the most from the Q&A sessions after screenings of the films that stand out, for one reason or another, from the very long and impressive programming lineup.
Festival films are divided into the two broad categories of “Caribbean” and “Panorama/International,” and further divided into either documentary or fiction narrative films of feature—, medium—or short length.
Outstanding Caribbean films that will feature a filmmaker Q&A include (in alphabetical order, not order of merit, and not at all an exhaustive list): Citizens of Nowhere, which deals with the Dominican Republic’s Third Reich approach to its natives born of Haitian parents; Dreadlocks Story, a greatly-informative documentary about Rastafari; My Father’s Land, a road-sea-identity trip documentary (co-directed by last years Film T&T documentary film prizewinner, Miquel Galofre); Gayelle co-founder Christopher Laird’s striking medium-length documentary, Paradise Lost, which is as much about Peter Minshall today as the Carnival band he designed for Stephen Lee Heung in 1976; Vanishing Sail, a wonderful film about one of the last yacht builders of Cariacou; Venice, a terrific story of working class women working life out in modern Cuba that gets immediately under your skin; Without Wings, a touching, elegiac-yet-optimistic story of love, loss and hope in Cuba; and the filmmaker sessions after the short films Fade to Black, Papa Machete, Sixteen and Party Girl—with this last Q&A having the chance of becoming deeply ironic, depending on the racial mixture—or lack of it—of the audience attending.
Had the list above been in order of merit, it would certainly have started with Venice, and would probably have had Without Wings, Paradise Lost and My Father’s Land jockeying for the next positions.
People who care less about the quality of their films than their style might enjoy, far more, the filmmaker and star Q&As after Sean A Story About Wendy Hodgkinson’s new film, Trafficked, which is filmed in Trinidad but set in an imaginary Spanish-speaking country where they drive on the same side of the road as Trinidad—but there is unlikely to be a bigger audience sensation in the whole festival than the Q&A after the single screening of Bazodee at the Globe (8pm, September 23): the presence of the lead male actor, one Machel Montano, ought to guarantee quick sales, even at $250 a ticket. (Admission to the after-party adds another $100 to the cost.)
The best of the panorama or international film Q&As, again in alphabetical order, is much shorter and, with only two, barely qualifies as a list: Gone with the River, a fiction feature contemplating the collision of traditional and changing ways of life within the Warao tribe of the Orinoco; and Margarita, With a Straw, an Indian film with universal themes of difference, compassion, love and self-respect; in order of merit, Margarita would triumph; if you go to only one festival Q&A, it must be this one.
Over the next fortnight, 14 different films will be chosen as films of the day but there are very many more highly worthwhile films that would have been picked in a three-week (or longer) festival, with Amy, the documentary about the late Amy Winehouse, leading the pack by a mile.
In the group following, at a respectful distance, there would be: Bim; City on the Hill; The Chinese Mayor; The Greatest House in the World; The Harder They Come; One People; Pendulum (a T&T student film that would have passed with flying colours, had it dealt with the T&T Regiment in Icacos instead of the US Marine Corps in Iraq); Sally’s Way (probably the best T&T fiction feature, and certainly the best one in competition for the prize); Sugar Cane Alley; and Sugarcane Shadows (a T&T film masquerading as a Mauritian one).
For the original report go to https://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2015-09-15/tt-film-festival-begins-bang