The Creatively Speaking Film Series, celebrates the opening of its 20th consecutive season this September 11th – 13th, 2015 at MIST Harlem. The theme this month is “Spotlight Caribbean” – a distinctive selection of films highlighting the artistry, enthusiasm and relevance of the current independent filmmaking scene brewing in the Caribbean. From Jamaica to Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago to Haiti, the first of our monthly weekend series is sure to have something to please everyone – documentaries and narratives – each screening followed by the signature Creatively Speaking “talk back” with filmmakers, scholars, critics, and activists.  Buy tickets here.

The films being screened as part of the screening, are:

art connectArt Connect
by Miquel Galofre
Documentary Feature
Trinidad & Tobago | 2014

Art Connect is a feature length documentary that reveals the powerful process of creative intervention in the Success Laventille Secondary School in Trinidad and Tobago.  The film documents the profound impact which creativity has on a group of 7 ‘at risk’ students, aged between 13-17, whom all come from communities that is 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. All rights reserved 2009.

For more information, visit the Miquel’s website.  Watch the trailer here:

price of memoryThe Price of Memory
by Karen Marks Mafundikwa
Documentary Feature
Jamaica | 2014

When Queen Elizabeth II visits Jamaica for her Golden Jubilee Celebrations in 2002, she is petitioned by a small group of Rastafari for slavery reparations. For Rastafari, reparations is linked to a desire to move back to Africa, the homeland of their African ancestors who were brought to Jamaica as slaves. The film traces this petition, as well as a slavery reparations lawsuit filed against the Queen in Jamaica. We follow Ras Lion a mystic Rasta farmer who petitioned the Queen, and Michael Lorne; the attorney who brought the lawsuit. In the background are the stories of earlier Rastas who pursued reparations in the 1960s, revealing an ongoing demand that spans decades. Filmed over a decade, on location in Jamaica and the UK, the film follows the filmmaker on a journey into the past, during which the question of reparations reaches Parliament in both Jamaica and the UK. The film is an exploration of the enduring legacies of slavery and the case for slavery reparations in modern Jamaica.

For more information visit the film’s FB page.  Watch the trailer:

songs of redemptionSongs of Redemption
by Miqquel Galofre
Documentary Feature
Jamaica | 2013

Songs of Redemption reveals a stream of consciousness as told by Kingston prisoners incarcerated for crimes ranging from ‘illegal possession of firearm’ to ‘murder.’ The prison, once a concrete holding area for African slaves, is devoid of basic human necessities and reflects a reality of unimaginable consequence. The movie opens with a glimpse of city dogs living free in the streets with no means of support, while human counterparts behind the walls are imprisoned with the same lack of support, compounded by total loss of personal freedom.

The movie exemplifies the unique transformation of an extremely violent environment into a new state of creative and healing artistic collaborations. Through the compassionate vision of Superintendent Fairweather, prison staff are guided to recognize inmates as human beings whose lives could be renewed and positive outcomes unveiled through the use of creative outlets and skills. Combined with the efforts of Social Activist, Carla Gullotta, programs were initiated to support continuing education such as music production, computer technology, welding and other skill based opportunities.

Interviews by inmates reveal sincere regret for the actions that led to a life of incarceration. The critical turning point is ignited through a growing a sense of self pride and identity, a channel to musically express remorse and the ability to warn the next youth from destructive behavior. The simplicity and complexity of freedom is captured throughout the film as birds fly in and out of the prison grounds only to fly freely away into the blue sky. As one inmate clearly states, redemption comes when the criminal moves from a very dark hopeless place into the light, the light of life and forgiveness.~ Sista Irie, Austin, Texas

Visit the film’s FB page.  Watch the trailer:

Women in the Diaspora
by Stephanie and Stephen James
Documentary Series

The series presents portraits of 41 Caribbean women from across the Diaspora.  This screening will feature portraits of Lili Bernard, Rosie Gordon Wallace, and Nora Gasparini.  Lili Bernard, born in Cuba and living in Los Angeles,  is an actress and activist campaigning for the visibility of Black, Asian and Hispanic artists in the vast California cultural landscape.  Rosie Gordon Wallace founded the Diaspora Vibe Gallery of Miami Beach, a platform to cultivate the vision and diverse talent of emerging artists from the Latin and Caribbean diaspora.  Nora Gasparani is originally from Martinique and now resides in Bali, where she established L’Atelier Parfums et Creations, an olfactory workshop where visitors can develop their own perfumes from local, natural resources.

timthumbH2 Worker
by Stephanie Black
Documentary Feature

Winner of the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, H-2 WORKER reveals the systematic exploitation of Caribbean laborers by the Florida sugar industry from World War II through the 1990s. Each year more than 10,000 foreign workers were granted temporary guest worker (“H-2″) visas to spend six brutal months cutting sugar cane near Lake Okeechobee. They were housed in overcrowded barracks, denied adequate treatment for frequent on-the-job injuries, and paid less than minimum wage. Faced with deportation and soaring unemployment in their home countries, workers had little recourse but to silently accept these humiliating conditions.

Clandestinely filmed in the cane fields and around the workers’ barracks, H-2 WORKER exposes this travesty of justice, which remained a well-kept secret for decades.

Originally released in 1990, today H-2 WORKER provides an invaluable resource to understanding current debate over guest worker provisions of immigration legislation. While Florida’s sugar cane cutters have been replaced by mechanical harvesters, guest worker programs have expanded in agriculture, hotel, restaurant, forestry, and other industries. H-2 WORKER illuminates how our foreign worker program continues to benefit employers at the expense of vulnerable, underpaid workers.

Happy Festivalling!!