The 21st FEMI Guadeloupe International Film Festival, came to a close today. It was our first visit to the festival and the island … it will not be our last.
The Festival is a wonderful mix of films, workshops and social events. The films included French films, films from French Caribbean, stand-out films from the 2014 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (a collaboration between the two organizations), films from the broader African Diaspora, and the featured, Chilean films.
The associated Film Mart ran workshops on all aspects of filmmaking in the Region. We attended workshops describing the film industry in Guadeloupe and the French Caribbean, on the French Caribbean filmmakers collaborating with and co-producing films with the English and Spanish Caribbean filmmakers, as well as a talk on composing scores for films. Through the workshops we learned that although the French Caribbean countries have access to the French market and EU funds, they face many of the same obstacles filmmakers in other parts of the Caribbean face – lack of funding and less interest by investors in Caribbean stories. Conversations with filmmakers and other Festival attendees highlighted the need to continued and strengthening relations between the French Caribbean and other Caribbean territories, as a way of taking the initiative and for filmmakers to make the films they want to make, focused on the Caribbean experience.
Although we were not able to see many of the films, these are the films we did see and particularly enjoyed.
by Miquel Galofre
Trinidad & Tobago | 2014
Winner of the “Best Trinidad and Tobago Feature Film” at the 2014 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, Art Connect is a feature length documentary, which reveals the powerful process of creative intervention in the Success Laventille Secondary School in Trinidad and Tobago. The film documents the profound impact creativity has on a group of 7 ‘at risk’ students, aged between 13-17, who all come from communities considered the most marred by violence in Trinidad and Tobago.
Art Connect began as an urban art project, where students were invited to collaborate with visiting artist Wendell McShine. Together they embarked on a series of dynamic community murals in an ongoing visual dialogue on the walls of Laventille. They are the narrators of this story and the courage we have witnessed through moments of doubt and vulnerability has been amazing. Over the last year we have loaned them Gopro film cameras to document the highs and lows of their lives outside of the school and introduce us to their mentors and communities. Spanish film Director Miquel Galofre documented the process and was able to capture the genuine transformation of these children.
The Art Connect Project was created by Artist Wendell McShine and is rooted in the philosophy that investment in education, art and humanities is vital for the uplifting and development of any society. This program was created to promote self awareness through the use of educational and dynamic creative workshops.
Check out the trailer:
With Miquel Galofre and Nneka Luke
The Opening Night film at the 2014 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, Pan! intertwines re-enacted vignettes of pivotal moments in the pre-history and history of pan from 1820 to 1963, from the banning of slave drum dances, to the first Panorama, with today’s “reality” narrative of the competition, in which various pan players from Trinidad and Tobago and abroad join the bands to prepare for the big stage.
Jevanni, a 10-year-old ghetto boy, struggles to qualify to play in Trinidad All Stars, the band founded by his grandfather. Eva, a footloose 27-year-old Frenchwoman in Trinidad for the first time, hopes to play on the big night—the Panorama finals, the dream of her recently-deceased father. But her band, Birdsong, has been eliminated at the semi-finals so she must quickly learn a new tune well enough to get into another band. Raven, 19, known as a “Crackshot” for illegally playing in several bands under different names, can learn in hours what takes others days, but he is on the verge of being thrown out of his first love, Phase II Pan Groove. Also knocking on the Phase II door are Yukari, Sayori, Kentaro and Chihiro, who are from Japan and can barely speak English but sacrificed job security to be here.
Will they get on the team? If they do, will their team win? This story of the adventure and passion of pan derives its momentum and drama from the intersecting lives and ambitions of these and other characters as they prepare for battle in Panorama: the Olympics of music. Their stories are interlaced with re-enactments of the rags-to-riches tale of the steelband movement, which was born into poverty and violence but climbed to the highest levels of social and artistic acceptance without losing its life-or-death urgency.
The audience at home and abroad will experience this spectacular event, the Olympics of music, 50 years old in 2013 and understand how it creates such passion.
Check out the trailer:
Winner of the Best Trinidad and Tobago Short Film Award, Dubois tells the story of a young woman from London attempting to recover from the grief of the death of her husband. She visits family in Trinidad and Tobago. There she finds herself strangely drawn to a mentally ill homeless man she sees wandering the streets, and he to her. A metaphysical, spiritual journey follows.
Watch the teaser:
Winner of the Cinematography at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Mother of George tells the story of Adenike and Ayodele (The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira and veteran actor Isaach De Bankolé). They are a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn. Following the joyous celebration of the their wedding, complications arise out of their inability to conceive a child – a problem that devastates their family and defies cultural expectations, leading Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save her family or destroy it. Acclaimed director Andrew Dosumnu (Restless City) captures the nuances of this unique and fascinating culture by creating a beautiful, vibrant, and moving portrait of a couple whose joys and struggles are at once intimate and universal.
Check out the trailer:
Amidst all these good films, we had time to interview Guadeloupan filmmaker, Nina Vilus, the producer of the popular short, Vivre!, hit the beach for a bit (the water was perfect), and jammed until the wee hours of the morning at Zion Park, while listening to some of the best foundation reggae we’ve heard in a long time.
Interviewing Nina Vilus
If you’re a film lover, and love the Caribbean, this is a must-attend film festival.
See you there soon!!