Bajans on big screen

Patrons and cast at reception.
Patrons and cast at reception.

“The big shot laugh ho… ho… ho…, the middle class laugh Hi… Hi… Hi…,” Mighty Charmer.

Over the past week, CHRISSY– a film made and screened in Barbados — has been playing to large audiences at the Tribeca Cinemas in Manhattan, and the Linden Theatre complex and church halls in Brooklyn and Queens. The New York launch is part of a larger effort to promote this classic film internationally. The promotional effort will continue over the next two weeks in other parts of the Tri-state and New Jersey.

On Friday May 17, 2013, the cold weather drifted north of the east coast and gifted a beautiful spring evening to the city of Manhattan. Just off Canal Street a red carpet lays with great expectation at the entrance to the reception area of Tribeca Cinemas, the launching pad of many international films.

Meanwhile, inside the home of film festivals, actors and a support cast — live and direct from Barbados — were preparing for a photo shoot and media interviews.

At 7 p.m. the two black American security guards turned the door keys and so began the reception for the patrons attending New York premiere of CHRISSY, a classy Bajan film about poverty, bullying, perseverance, and faith.

In the hour before the screening, several patrons were seen reconnecting with old friends, while the American press, Harlem Radio for example, interviewed the film’s producer and director, Marcia and Ken Weeks.

Eventually, that special moment arrived and after remarks by officers of the consulate at New York, comedian Mac Fingall gave the order for the showing to commence. It lasted about two hours after which actors, the producer and directors were officially presented.

The applause was loud and long as the members of the cast thanked patrons for coming and invited them to spread the word. They did more. Chevel Smith- Reid brought the house down when she said:

“I hope you know that that is not the real me. I would never sit on anyone like that.”

A beautiful evening eventually folded when Master of Ceremonies, Andre Padmore, reminded one and all of the time constraint.

Now listen to a few comments:

Dr. Pauline Bynoe, a former professor at the prestigious Brooklyn College, expressed her enjoyment and critiqued the film in this way:

“It is a remarkable piece of work. It has a good story and should be more widely shared perhaps as part of PBS – Public Broadcasting Service – programmes. We must find a way to get it there.”

Consul General Lennox Price and Ambassador Joseph Goddard both said that they were tremendously impressed.

“Without question, CHRISSY as well as the actors who came to the Diaspora as part of the promotional package were well received. The plot contrasts poverty and wealth as expressed in status, in language, in images of the physical landscape and property. Many subliminal messages feed the twist and turns and the conflict is resolved by the mindfulness of the forgiving children who ensure that the underdog cherishes adversity as a weapon of success.

“Excellent,” said Goddard.

CHRISSY, is a loaded gun with the capacity to provide a shot in the arm for any community that is willing to acknowledge that everything of value is clearly shaped by the furnace of adversity. Indeed, the Marcia and Ken Weekes production must be added to the family of masterpieces like the Mighty Charmer’s The Big Shot Laugh, Gabby’s Emmerton, and Red Plastic Bag’s Harding Can’t Burn.

Ultimately, if the patron response at other showings is any guide, this movie is a larger than life mirror with the capacity to evoke a wide range of emotions.

Mac Fingall, who admitted that every time he sees the movie he cries, shared the fact that when the movie was first shown in Barbados, John Public was ready to crucify the snooty teacher (my view) for her apparent resentment of Crissy. For him, that expressed emotion was a tribute to her acting. It could also mean that Barbadians love the underdog.

So did you see Chrissy? Did you laugh or cry, or were you silent or did you shout, or all of them?

Next week. What the Guyanese had to say about Mac Fingall and Chrissy.

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