Points of Recognition: Suriname’s Indigenous Peoples in the 21st Century


“In Far and near—Milton Kam / Panorama,” Shelly-Ann Inniss (Caribbean Beat, Issue 158) interviews Suriname-born cinematographer Milton Kam on his latest book of photographs, Points of Recognition: Suriname’s Indigenous Peoples in the 21st Century (2019) in which he explores how “Suriname’s indigenous communities walk a line between the traditional and the contemporary, distance and proximity.” See excerpts below from Caribbean Beat.

Surinamese-American cinematographer Milton Kam has worked on numerous international films throughout his career, including projects for Netflix, Amazon, the History Channel, and National Geographic. But after living away from his homeland for more than twenty years, he felt stirred to explore Suriname’s diverse society through photography — starting with its indigenous peoples, who make up approximately four per cent of the country’s population. Like many Caribbean people, Kam learned about “Arawaks and Caribs” in primary school, but during his photographic mission — which took him deep into Suriname’s interior regions — he came to know the several distinct indigenous peoples who have called this land home long before there was a nation named Suriname. With his photographs newly published in the book Points of Recognition: Suriname’s Indigenous Peoples in the 21st Century, Kam talks to Shelly-Ann Inniss about the evolution of the project and what he learned along the way.

How did your career in film get started? As a child in Suriname, I always loved watching movies. Back then, it never occurred to me that movies were crafted by a group of people. My interest in filmmaking as a career began when I saw a documentary about the making of my favourite adolescent movie, Star Wars. I was fascinated by the complex filmmaking process, in which many people with different specialisations work together to tell a story.

When I left Suriname to go to college in New York, I decided to major in both fine arts and filmmaking, ultimately hoping to get into special effects. During my film education, I discovered cinematography, which essentially is the art and craft of telling a story with images and movement. It brought together my interests in fine arts, adventure, and storytelling.

Have you worked on any films in Suriname or the wider Caribbean?  My career in cinematography has taken me to many places, where I shot a range of projects from documentaries to TV series. I have not worked in the wider Caribbean, but I have worked in Suriname on a few commercials, documentaries, and narrative films. [. . .]

For full article, go to © MEP Publishers | Far and near — Milton Kam | Panorama | Caribbean Beat Magazine https://www.caribbean-beat.com/issue-158/far-and-near-panorama#ixzz5sqWM6WHg

Follow Caribbean Beat at @meppublishers on Twitter | caribbeanbeat on Facebook

For more on Points of Recognition, see https://www.pointsofrecognition.com/

Also see https://www.miltonkam.com/

[Photo above by Milton Kam: Dosu Pelenapin pilots his boat on the Lawa, one of the rivers that forms the boundary between Suriname and French Guiana.]

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