We missed posting about this festival beforehand this year, but we will now, if only to give a recap of the films screening there.  The festival ran from March 25 to March 29 and as usual, featured international as well as Caribbean films (as part of the Yellow Robin competition).  Let’s take a look at the Caribbean films featured at this year’s festival:

ttff14_caribbean_feature_art_connect-1024x631Art Connect
by Miquel Galofre
Documentary Feature
Trinidad & Tobago | 2014

Laventille is a Ward of Trinidad and Tobago, where violence and drugs take a severe toll on the residents, including the children. Art Connect is an art project that some children from Success Laventille Secondary School participated in. Kids between 13 and 17, often from broken homes, learned to express themselves creatively.

Trinidadian artist Wendell McShine helped them create expressive murals and they wrote their own music with the musicians of the Freetown Collective (who can be heard on the 2014 soundtrack of Yellow Robin Award winner God Loves the Fighter).

In the documentary the children tell almost all the story themselves. They are given handy GoPro cameras and show viewers their lives. In open-hearted interviews the kids talk of important people and difficult moments in their lives as well as how Art Connect helps them achieve goals they never thought possible.

Watch the trailer:

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Art Connect Film Trailer: Curacao IFFR 2015

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giants picGiants
by Damian Marcano
Documentary Short
Trinidad & Tobago | 2015

After Trinidadian director Damian Marcano won the Yellow Robin Award for his feature God Loves the Fighter at IFFR Curaçao 2014, he spent two months in Rotterdam, where he made the short film Giants. A moving story about youngsters in Rotterdam and who they look up to, their giants.

Watch the film here:

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derek walcottPoetry is an Island: Derek Walcott
by Ida Does
Documentary Feature
Netherlands/Aruba | 2013

Everything in poet Derek Walcott’s work exudes the Caribbean: its nature, light, sea and people. In this intimate portrait of the Nobel Prizewinner from St. Lucia, friends, family, other poets such as Seamus Heaney as well as Walcott himself discuss his work and life.

Watch the trailer:

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Poetry Is an Island, Derek Walcott Film Trailer: Curacao IFFR 2015

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por amorPor Amor en el Caserio
by Luis Enrique Rodríguez
Narrative Feature
Puerto Rico | 2013

Angelo (Xavier Antonio Morales), new to the block ruled by his drug-dealing cousin, falls in love with Cristal (Anoushka Medina), the rival gang leader’s sister. No one approves of their love so they meet in secret.

This variation on Romeo and Juliet, For Love in the Caserio, set in a housing project in one of Puerto Rican capital San Juan’s poor neighbourhoods is partially based on the experiences of local amateur actors. Antonio Morales previously wrote the script for the eponymous play performed to great success by the same actors in San Juan, which aimed to reduce violence and drug-dealing on the streets.

In this charming film, created with the best intentions, scenes in San Juan’s streets (a spiral of violence alternating with soapy drama) is intercut with excerpts from the actors playing on stage or rehearsing for their roles.

This film participated in the Yellow Robin competition.

Watch the trailer:

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Por amor en el caserio Film Trailer: Curacao IFFR 2015

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primero de eneroPrimero de Enero
by Erika Bagnarello
Narrative Feature
Dominican Republic/Costa Rica | 2014

January 1st deals with tough themes such as divorce, crime and social inequality in a surprisingly light fashion. This youth road movie is a beautiful Latin American coproduction with a cast and crew from, among other places, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

Twelve-year-old Sebastián’s father has just left. Supposedly to go and work in the city, but everyone knows his parents have split up; his mother even has a new boyfriend. To get at the latter, Sebastián helps the local criminal break into his mother’s restaurant. However, to his shock, the thief makes off with much more than agreed including the much-loved piano, an heirloom of his father’s. Together with his best friend, Sebastián travels to the big city to get the piano back.

The boys’ journey is a dangerous, educational and cathartic one for the boy who, at the start of the film, mainly cared about his games console.

This film participated in the Yellow Robin competition.

Watch the trailer:

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Primero de Enero Film Trailer: Curacao IFFR 2015

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rebecca's storyRebecca’s Story
by the Youth of the Witness Project
Narrative Short
Guyana | 2014

Due to tragic circumstances, Rebecca and her brother end up with their grandmother in Georgetown. Granny rules with an iron fist. Then Rebecca discovers that everything is for a reason. This brief drama written, directed and played by young people from Guyana proves to be a prescient, nuanced look at a complex theme.

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sin salasSin Salas
by Ben Chace
Narrative Feature
Cuba/USA | 2014

Whilst reading the communist newspaper outside a semi-derelict art-deco building in Havana’s city centre, 70-year old Luis Vargas, a retired journalist with silver-grey temples and a bushy moustache, notices an obituary for celebrated ballerina Isabela Muñoz. Luis decides to secretly attend her funeral.

The following night he can’t get to sleep: he sees Isabela on stage again and wracks his brain trying to work out which music she’s dancing to. The next day, he and his friend Ovilio start to search for that music and his thoughts quite naturally drift back 40 years to when he had a brief, passionate, yet impossible affair with Isabela.

The present and the regrets of the past mingle in black-and-white as well as colour in this love story with fabulous music and lots of local colour, which was written and directed by Ben Chace, and was based on the stories of Argentinian poet and author Jorge Luis Borges.

This film participated in the Yellow Robin competition.

Watch the trailer:

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Sin alas Film Trailer: Curacao IFFR 2015

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tu y yoTú y yo
by Natalia Cabral
Narrative Feature
Dominican Republic | 2014

In the heart of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, lives an elderly widow with her Afro-Caribbean housekeeper. While the lady of the house works on plant projects and calls the outside world, the domestic worker keeps things shiny. Alongside differences, their existence also intertwines. For instance watching soaps together, the conversations they have and their jostling in the kitchen where the lady of the house always has the last word. Whether it’s about storing onions, preparing meat or adding spices. And, if she has got out of bed on the wrong side, the day is characterised by impatience and a flood of complaints.

In this tragi-comic documentary, a static camera records the seemingly careless, yet archetypal scenes of daily life in fly-on-the-wall style. What happens in a place without clear social distinctions if class differences are still so deeply engrained in culture?