Now in its 20th year, the St. Barth Film Festival will held from April 24 – 30, on the island of St. Barthelemy, a part of the French Caribbean, and features a Caribbean film lineup. Many of the films are being presented by the filmmakers themselves. For more information and a complete schedule, visit the Festival website.
About the Festival:
The St. Barth Film Festival was launched in 1996, allowing the island to open its doors to the cultural richness of the Caribbean by way of its cinema. The success of the first festival encouraged its growth into an annual event, with the second festival in 1997; the third, fourth, and fifth years of the festival confirmed the role of Cinéma Caraïbe as an important showcase for Caribbean cinema. Now an established event on the island’s cultural calendar, the festival has put St. Barth on the map as a meeting place for regional filmmakers to come together to screen and discuss their work.
In addition to the 35mm films screened in the evenings at A.J.O.E. in Lorient, the St. Barth Film Festival also organizes film-in-the-schools programs in which filmmakers work with the island’s students to help them discover filmmaking as both a career option and a tool of cultural expression. The festival will also present an annual round-table discussion on Caribbean Cinema and an afternoon of video screenings, open free to the public. All films and videos in the festival are presented in their original language and sub-titled in French.
Cinéma Caraïbe is organized by Ellen Lampert-Gréaux, Joshua Harrison, Rosemond Gréaux and Sophie Maupoil under the auspices of the non-profit French association, Ciné Saint Barth along with the generous support of the Collectivity of St. Barthélemy, the DRAC in Guadeloupe (Regional Cultural Affairs Office of the French Ministry of Culture), the Conseil Régional de la Guadeloupe, La Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports, A.J.O.E., Ciné Woulé, and the St. Barth Tourist Office, as well as other cultural organizations in St. Barth. Numerous island hotels, restaurants and businesses have been among the local sponsors since the festival was launched in 1996.
Caribbean Films at this year’s Festival:
Horsemouth sets himself up in business selling records but when gangsters steal his bike things start to turn nasty. As tensions build, Horsemouth and friends plot to end the gangsters reign of terror and restore justice to the people of Kingston.
This is one of our favorite films – with its heavy music-laden sound track and performances from the likes of Leroy Sibbles, Burning Spear and Jacob Miller, this is a must-see film.
Check out the trailer:
Barely a couple of days after the earthquake destroys most of their villa, a man (Alex Descas) and his wife (Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin) are visited by a team of foreign surveyors and given an ultimatum: fix it entirely in a few weeks, or it will be razed to the ground. The newly penniless couple rent the habitable part of the villa to Alex (Thibault Vinçon) — a relief worker who benefits from the high remuneration granted to foreign humanitarian personnel in Haiti — in order to put his rent payments towards repairs. To their surprise, their new tenant also comes with a Haitian girlfriend, Andrémise (Lovely Kermonde Fifi), a sassy and enterprising young woman who has renamed herself Jennifer to attract foreign suitors in Port-au-Prince. As the ground rumbles with aftershocks, the once-privileged couple, now destitute and helpless, comes for the first time face-to-face with the stark contradictions of Haitian society.
With masterful pacing and precise performances, Peck’s film explores the fundamental questions of citizenship, responsibility, and justice that have challenged Haitian society ever since it emerged from decades of dictatorship. Murder in Pacot evokes a “Haiti Year Zero” with compelling acuity; it is riveting, complex, and a veritable tour de force.
Check out the trailer:
RiseUp is a journey into the heart of Jamaica – the island that gave birth to the worldwide cultural phenomenon of Reggae. In a society where talent abounds and is scarce, three distinct and courageous artists fight to rise up from obscurity and write themselves into the pages of history.
With music and appearances by legends Lee “Scratch” Perry, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and a slew of soon-to-be superstars, RiseUp follows artists from the dangerous streets, back alleys and crowded dancehalls of Kingston, to the picturesque countryside. These artists demonstrate the raw power of hope and courage in a land which is largely unseen, but certainly not unsung.
Retour à Ithaque, a film shot entirely in Spanish and set in an apartment and rooftop terrace overlooking Havana’s famed ocean avenue, the Malecón, sees Cantet probe into the lives of a group of middle-aged Cubans struggling to make sense of what has happened to their lives and their dreams.
A quintet of old friends, bearing the scars of years spent eking out a living in Havana, by turns joke and needle each other; they commiserate and taunt; they reminisce. Even though the people in the group share a common past, life has taken them in different directions. Each faces a crisis of conscience that Cantet explores delicately, as compromises butt up against principles, pragmatism against ideals, youth against parents.
Cantet dissects the values and attitudes of these survivors, and finds in them a desire to engage and think, to grow and create. Even if they’ve arrived at middle age with a sense of unrealized possibilities, they have lived lives of thought and awareness. Cantet has proven that he is a thinking-person’s filmmaker; with Retour à Ithaque he adds another illustrious chapter to his filmography.
Check out the trailer:
Samana, an idyllic beach city in the Dominican Republic, is an increasingly popular spot for tourism, both local and international. Growth in the peninsula has provided new opportunities for Dominicans and Haitians (limited mostly to tourist-related industries), while numerous European expats flock to this sleepy paradise and end up spending months, even years, living by the sea.
Filmmakers Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas shot their second featureJean Gentil in Samana, and with Sand Dollars they return to the region to explore the complex cultural exchanges occurring between the locals and their richer European cohabitants. The film focuses on twenty-year-old local Noeli (Yanet Mojica), who for two years has been involved in a relationship with the much older Anne (Geraldine Chaplin). Anne is absolutely smitten with her young lover and prone to jealousy when she sees her talking with anyone else. Despite the money that regularly passes between them, neither Noeli (who lives with her boyfriend) nor Anne considers their relationship to be one of prostitution; but, ultimately, Anne represents one of the few employment opportunities available to a young woman in an economy that operates on various forms of tacit exploitation.
Directors Guzmán and Cárdenas depict this troubled relationship with great delicacy, allowing us to see the genuine affection between the women while never ignoring the monetary exchange that is its intrinsic complement. Exploring this unbalanced relationship without judgment, Sand Dollars offers an incisive portrait of an increasingly pervasive postcolonial reality.
Check out the trailer:
The film 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.
For more information, visit the film’s website. Check out the trailer:
Filmed in the Grenadines, Vanishing Sail tells the story of trading by sail in the West Indies, and follows a community of boat builders in Carriacou who struggle to maintain their tenuous grip on a dying skill.
Through a collection of dramatic sailing scenes, rare archival footage and unprecedented interviews with the last of old, Caribbean Sea Captains, Vanishing Sail seeks to preserve the legacy of boat building in the Grenadines, introduced by Scottish settlers in the 19th Century and hopes to revive interest in the art form before it expires on the heels of progress.