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Diversity through Emerging Cinema

Published: 
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Dr Heather Cateau and Yao Ramesar cut a film to formally open the Film Festival. PHOTO: WESLEY GIBBINGS

The inaugural edition of the World Festival of Emerging Cinema, hosted by UWI’s Film Programme between May 19 and 22, brought to audiences an intense, diverse selection of over 200 productions spanning 52 countries in close to a dozen languages in the space of just four days.

The dizzying pace of the festival could have presented more than its fair share of logistical challenges but, for the most part, staff and student volunteers kept the show rolling with admirable respect for the tight timelines of a packed schedule.

It was encouraging to note that several student productions were sprinkled throughout the festival and admirably held their own including Kyle Sahadeo’s The Absentee, Living without You by Analisa Wickham, John Agitation, directed by Kyle Mitchell and Save the Scene by Jian Hennings.

Also screened were The Dream Seller by Shane Lee Kit, The Misadventures of Brian and Sachin directed by Nicholas Clarke, Amanda Mendez’s Wave Goodbye and Pendulum by Michael Rochford.

Film Programme director, Yao Ramesar, had declared at the opening of the festival it was hoped that the festival would serve as one of several springboards to promote the emergence of indigenous cinema as part of an attempt “to dominate the frame in our own space.”

“We are a little bit tired of the repetition and formulae of Hollywood and Bollywood,” Ramesar said. “We have come to take the imagination forward (and) to take our own story into the future and to command this thing we call the frame.

We have been in what I call the blackground in Hollywood and Bollywood,” Ramesar added, “in the recesses of the frame, out of focus and out of the main attention. We have come to the fore now and we intend to dominate the frame in our own space.”

It was a view shared by Andrew Millington, senior lecturer in the Motion Pictures Arts Programme of the Cave Hill Campus of UWI.

Millington said at the opening ceremony the Caribbean challenge was not only to fix society but to “enter the global environment with confidence, maturity and with a limitless capacity to compete.”

He said it was the mission of the regional film industry to “tell the story that hasn’t been told… the story that reaches the global stage” as part of what he described as “the maturation of the transcendent narrative.”

The festival was formally opened by Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Dr Heather Cateau, who had been roundly praised by Ramesar for her strong support for the effort.

Fittingly, the opening ceremony screened Dutch filmmaker Jaap van Heusden’s De Nieuwe Wereld (The New World)—the story of a chance encounter between a female janitor and an African asylum seeker in the international zone of a Dutch airport controlled by immigration authorities.

Another notable screening was Sean Hodgkinson’s Trafficked which was co-produced by the late broadcaster Marcia Henville. The film, which won the Best Feature Film award at the T&T Film Festival last year, also made it to the Cannes International Pan African Film Festival in April.

Among the films that brought the curtains down on closing night was Kosovan director Agim Sopi’s Agnus Dei—a tragic drama based on a true story that unfolded during the bloody Kosovo conflict pitching the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbian-dominated Yugoslavian troops. 

On Screen 3, to close the proceedings on Sunday was El Silencio De Las Moscas (Silence of the Flies) by Venezuelan director, Eliezer Arias, who explores the subject of suicide involving young people of the Andes. It was a sombre documentary/drama employed to close a memorable four days of non-stop, quality screen entertainment.

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