Posted On June 21, 2016 By In Blog, CaFA News, caribbean, caribbean film, Caribbean Film Series, Interviews And 1045 Views

CaFA Q+A with Travolta Cooper

This June, Travolta Cooper’s, “THE BLACK MOSES,” was released on Studio Anansi Tv.  In the film, Travolta explores the life of Sir Lynden O. Pindling, the Bahamas’ first Prime Minister.  Pindling is regarded as the “Father” of the Bahamas, having led it to independence in 1973.  He served as Prime Minister of the Bahamas from 1969 to 1992, and was leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1965 to 1997 when he resigned from public life.  He died in 2000.  While the film’s focus is on Pindling’s life, it is more about the mythology of the “Black Moses,” found throughout the African diaspora, characterizing the lives of people like Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X.
Starring American actor, Dennis Haysbert, as the mystical Pindling/Black Moses,  it features, amongst other notables, commentary from Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Sidney Poitier, Thabo Mbeki (for Nelson Mandela), Dr. Myles Munroe, Brian Mulroney, PJ Patterson, and more.
The film had its world premiere on 8 December 2013 at the Bahamas International Film Festival, where it served as the festival’s closing film, the first Bahamian film to do so.
Hi Res
Travolta Cooper
Filmmaker
THE BLACK MOSES
The Bahamas
Y-Feye Media
Travolta Cooper is a filmmaker who hails from The Bahamas. He’s produced two documentaries – “Founding Fathers: Sir Stafford Sands” and “The Black Moses”. With the success of his second film ‘The Black Moses’ he landed an endorsement deal with The Bahamas’ theater chain Galleria Cinemas, in which produced a show to promote Hollywood and Caribbean Cinema. The show was called The Cinemas and is now being launched to the world via Tempo Tv and Anansi Studios.
CaribbeanFilm:
In your own words, tell us what this film is about and why you chose to tell this story.
TC:
Its about the life and times of Sir Lynden Pindling, the first black Prime Minister of the Bahamas. He led our country to Independence in 1973. Sir Lynden and other contemporaries in British territories who did so were called “Black Moses.”
CaribbeanFilm:
Did the film turn out the way you envisioned?  If yes, in what ways.  If no, why not?
TC:
Yes. It did. At heart, this is documentarty done in film noir style. That I always knew.  And the style was going to inform the movie’s content. I was interested in the subject of race as an emerging nation, of course, but I thought to make it even more ambiguous, to contrast race against the backdrop or moral ambiguity.  So the “black” in Black Moses has a duplicitous meaning.
CaribbeanFilm:
Did you use any visual references during preproduction? What was that process like? What did you choose from?
TC:
I love chiaroscuro paintings and films. Especially the black an white stuff. Orson Welle’s, Citizen Kane, was and is a huge impact. That probably influenced Moses more than any other film. Citizen Kane is actually my favorite movie.
CaribbeanFilm:
Describe some your best experiences while making the film and some of your worst. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
TC:
The best experience was getting a call from Hollywood that Dennis Haysbert was interested in portraying Black Moses in the film. That took our little movie to a more surreal and ambitious level.  And even the “bad experiences” became good to be honest, because independent film is a perpetual learning curve. There’s no alogorithm for it. Hopefully we get better at it.
CaribbeanFilm:
What do you want the audience to take away from this film?
TC:
I think in the end the film is a meditation and lamentation on the national journey. Especially for third world countries.  A conversation about both individual and collective responsibility is all we could hope for.
CaribbeanFilm:
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a filmmaker.
TC:
I’ve always wanted to be apart of the movies. Ever since I knew myself. That was always my path. As for who I am? I am a Bahamian and these days a citizen of the planet (living out of suitcase).
CaribbeanFilm:
If you were to pick an aspect of filmmaking – producing, writing, directing, cinematography, editing – which would be your favorite?  why is that? – which do you dislike the most? and why is that?
TC:
Writing. I’m a writer at heart. And it all comes from the written word. I enjoy the writing process immensely. Writing is the root of the tree, directing is the tree, and everything else are branches on that tree.
CaribbeanFilm:
If you did not have to think about a budget, what film would you make and who would you cast as the lead actors?  (ideal world question)
TC:
I would write a movie to star Dennis Haysbert and Viola Davis. I’ll just begin there.
CaribbeanFilm:
Currently, there is a sort of awakening in the Caribbean to filmmaking as a form of artistic expression … you are a part of this “new wave”… can you share with us your thoughts on what is currently happening and where you see this energy leading filmmakers? Is there much of a difference between what’s happening in the French Caribbean as opposed to the English and Spanish Caribbean?
TC:
It’s very exciting. And I think its Trinidad and Tobago (Film Festival) that has really been leading the charge thus far. The success of Caribbean Film will depend on the Caribbean audience. That’s a relationship: the Caribbean filmmakers (director,writers, actors) and their audience.
CaribbeanFilm:
Do you think there is a “Caribbean film aesthetic” being created as more and more films are being made? If so, can you describe what you’re seeing as that aesthetic?
TC:
It’s a question I’ve posed to some of my Caribbean filmmaking contemporaries as well. The only aesthetic I’ve seen so far is our landscape in Caribbean Films. The Region. Geography. As for genre and themes, I haven’t seen a unified aesthetic.
CaribbeanFilm:
And then some completely random questions: What is your fav film (or 2 or 3) all time? What did you enjoy about it the most?
TC:
I mentioned Citizen Kane earlier. That one remains my favorite film. As for why? Its just the bible of filmmaking for me. The process of getting the movie made and the final product itself is beyond inspiring and genius.
CaribbeanFilm:
What is your fav Caribbean film? What did you enjoy about it the most?
TC:
I think that would Maria Govan’s Rain. Perhaps because I am Bahamian and I know that story, those characters, and that world. But above all because we all began to take Bahamian cinema way more seriously after Rain. Rain defined Bahamian cinema.
CaribbeanFilm:
Is there a particular director’s work you admire? If so, who is that and what is it about their work you admire?
 TC:
I go through season’s so it depend on the hour. Right now, I’m going through a Quentin Tarantino phase. He redefined cinema in lots of ways. And that inspirieing right now. I want to be apart of doing something new with movies.
Thanks for vibe, Travolta!

Leave a Reply

Loading Google+ Comments ...