Please shoot

trinidad film promoters disappointed at lack of bajan interest in regional festival

by Latoya Burnham

Bajan film makers may be missing out on golden opportunity to be featured on the regional stage at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.

Programme Director of the festival, Annabelle Alcazar, told Barbados TODAY that while they had seen films from Barbados in past years, particularly since the University of the West Indies began offering a Bachelor Degree in film, this year they were yet to see entries.

“We just want to invite Barbados to come out. I don’t think we’ve had anything from Barbados as yet. We’ve had no submissions at all unfortunately, but they are still welcome to come,” said the director in invitation to the September 19 to October 2 festival.

While some of the areas for submission were closed, Alcazar said they were still hoping to attract local producers of documentaries to enter the RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion, for which the deadline is now August 15.

According to the festival’s website, “The Immersion is an intensive four-day development programme culminating in a competitive pitch session with a prize of TT$20,000 for one winner…

“Focus is open to emerging Caribbean filmmakers (citizens or residents of Caribbean countries living and working in the Caribbean) who have completed at least one documentary film (short or feature-length) but not more than two features”.

In the past, she recalled, Barbadian films like Kite Flyer and A Handful of Dirt, were shown successfully at the festival, as well as entries by UWI students and Cave Hill lecturer, Philip Nanton.

This is the festival’s seventh year, and Alcazar said she believed part of the challenge for film makers across the region, including Barbados, was financing, which was extremely difficult to come by. She said she believed governments had to get behind the film industry if it was to go anywhere.

As a region, she added, that it was incumbent on all those with an interest in this particular artform to come together to move the industry, not just in individual countries, but as a region, which was more feasible.

“I do think, although we don’t want to be government-dependent, that the governments have to step up and put incentives in place or rebates to encourage corporate sponsors and private financiers to invest in film and I also would advise any emerging film maker to get as much training as they can. It is a potential, it has its own language, it is an art, everything.

“For people to think they can just pick up a camera and shoot I don’t agree with that. You really have to get the best training you can and any alliance they can make with more film makers or more experienced film makers I think that is a great thing, or come together and make something as a cooperative or a team; don’t everybody want a one man show, which is a very Caribbean way.

“I’ve advocated that for a long time. I really don’t see a big future for our individual islands to create great film industries. We have to come together at some level whatever it is and I think the film makers themselves if they can network and get to know one another and what the other island film makers can offer, that is the way we are going to have to go. I think also there is quite a lot of funding available from the EU and places like that and the ACP and I think that is something they need to know as well. I think there is a lot out there that people are not aware of,” she said.

She said too that she believed there were Trinidad film makers who would be willing to work with Barbadian counterparts, but artists from each country would have to get together first to find the potential for such.

The festival is a combination of screenings, workshops, film makers panels, presentations by international film makers, involving persons from across the Caribbean, the Caribbean Diaspora, Guyana, Venezuela, Mexico, Toronto, London and New York to name a few.

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