22–28 Sept 2021
Save the Date

From freedom to festival

It’s just over a couple weeks to the start of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09. It’s also Independence Day here in Trinidad and Tobago and, from the sounds of it, it’s a country gone a bit mad. Earlier today, I could hear sirens from a nearby parade, while this afternoon brought the raucous sounds from a neighbouring bar and the people next door who have put up massive speakers seem to be continuing their party into the night. And, of course, it’s now time for the fireworks show in the Queen’s Park Savannah, so booms are booming, car alarms going off, dogs barking, and I swear, above it all, there’s a baby crying.

Yet, in the midst of all this, our team is festival-focused as we work hard to pull off our own mid-September celebrations. Like any good celebration of anything worthwhile, a lot of hard work goes into the preparation. Celeste, one of our interns, mentioned a few weeks ago that a friend expressed disbelief when she told him she was busy working with us. “How much work is involved in putting together a film festival?” her friend wondered. Well, in response to that unnamed friend, here’s the very much abridged version.

Early this year, we put out a call for entries for films to be screened at the festival. This year, we used the website,Without a Box, and received a 500% increase in the number of films received. Those films weren’t going to watch themselves, so the selection committee, head up by Annabelle Alcazar, our programme director, set about doing just that and making some tough decisions in order to whittle hundreds of features and shorts down to sixty-something. Letters of notification then went out to directors. At the same time, our festival mission was being reconsidered, locations for film viewings were being secured, workshop themes chosen, special guests invited for workshop participation, the festival artist chosen, the festival venues secured, and festival themes defined. Then to New York to create the festival’s limited edition print.

Also, we can’t do anything without funds, and so we set about getting our sponsors for the 09 season, a formidable task that festival executive director, Marina Salandy Brown undertook in earnest. Festival cash prizes were established. At the same time, Emilie Upczak, our creative director was busy with our official design partners, charged with overseeing our new visual identity, which included rebuilding our website. (We may look great now, but it took a lot of work to get us this way!) We coordinated, and continue to do so, with our festival viewing partners at the StudioFilmClub, at UWI, Naparima Girls, and in Tobago. Jonathan and I watched the selected films and compressing hours of film into to what we hope are lucid and entertaining synopses. (How often can one use the word, “poignant,” Jonathan once asked.) Ads were designed for magazines as were invites to launches and text was written for our festival guide, as well as for speeches to be delivered at special events. Our design partners were working on our poster while, at the same time, fitting info for all our films onto a single sheet of paper and shuffling through hundreds of images from around T+T to find those that would best suit our identity and reproduce well for our billboards and standees. Our festival fashion designer was briefed and set about working on our T-shirts and tote bags. Ticket and accommodation arrangements were being made for our guests. Press conferences were put together, the artwork launch party was held, interviews were given here and there, caterers were hired. Questions are coming at us from all directions and we’re sending them out in all directions, too. And, this morning, a meeting about a newspaper insert didn’t allow much room for sleeping in. And, we’ll continue again tomorrow.

It’s been a lot of work—work which sometimes, if not always, calls for us to put in time on the weekends and holidays. But, we’re not complaining. Today’s Independence Day reminds us of what we’re trying to accomplish here in Trinidad and Tobago and of our mission of becoming “the cutting-edge Caribbean film festival that continues to evolve and expand in celebrating expression and empowerment through film.” Without a Trinidad and Tobago there is no trinidad+tobago film festival so today, especially, we’re grateful and happy that we have the privilege of working hard to put on a celebration of and for and in our country—a country that is, above all else, free.

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 3

US writer and theatre critic Hilton Als, who will be programming four nights of screenings at StudioFilmClub as part of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09

Filmmaking isn’t just about directors, though some of them might like to think so. Yes, the director is often the sine qua non of a film, especially in independent, auteur-driven cinema. But that doesn’t mean that the other people involved in making a film are inconsequential, or interchangeable. Even if a film is a director’s personal vision, you still need other people to help bring that vision to life.

One such person is the cinematographer. The cinematographer–the director of photography, properly speaking–is responsible for a film’s look, its visual style. And since film is a visual medium, that makes the cinematographer important; sometimes, almost as important as the director. In a film like Steve McQueen’s Hunger, one of the narrative features being screened at the Festival, the cinematography is key; the austere look of the film, with its bleached-out colours, complements and reinforces the stark subject matter. So it’s no surprise we’re thrilled that the cinematographer of Hunger, Sean Bobbitt, will be attending the Festival. Not only will he be here for the film’s screening, but he will also be conducting a workshop on the art of cinematography. (And if you’re interested in cinematography, I suggest you sign up for the workshop now, before all the places are gone.)

Another person who’s key to cinema, though not necessarily to the filmmaking process itself, is the critic. Now I know there are people who will quibble with this, and say that critics aren’t really important, that they’re just failed artists or know-nothings who only like to bad-talk everything. These people, however, are wrong, and I don’t just say that because a critic myself. Robust critical discourse is key in the arts, in any culture–but that’s another post entirely. Suffice it to say that the critic matters. And we’ve got one of the best, Hilton Als of the New Yorker, coming to the Festival to programme the four nights of screenings at StudioFilmClub. The films Als has chosen to screen are largely experimental, challenging the conventions of traditional filmmaking. They should prove thought-provoking, conversation-inspiring viewing–come along to StudioFilmClub to see them and you may even find yourself in a conversation with Hilton Als.

Of course, you’ve got to have actors to portray the various roles in films (or in the case of biographical films, subjects to make films about). Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob’s documentary Carmen and Geoffrey is the story of New York-based dancers Carmen de Lavallade and her husband, Trinidad-born Geoffrey Holder. I described Holder in a previous post as larger than life; a striking six foot six, with a booming voice, this dancer-painter-actor is an artistic renaissance man if there ever was one. And he’ll be here, this renowned son of the soil, for a screening of Carmen and Geoffrey which takes place before the awards ceremony and reception that closes the Film Festival on September 29.

We hope you’ll be coming to the Festival too, because ultimately, the members of the audience are our most important guests. Indeed, without people to watch them, there wouldn’t be any films at all.

Show me the funny!

No laughing matter: a scene from Paulette James’ Enter the Preacher

Think of the last comedy to win an Oscar for best picture*. Ha! You can’t can you? Although comedies sometimes make it to the nomination stage, only a handful have ever achieved a win. In fact, so few in number are the comedy winners and nominees that some have suggested that the Academy will nominate people afflicted with everything but a sense of humour. But, it’s not just the Academy, really; it would seem that, generally speaking, comedies aren’t taken seriously. And why is that? Life’s realities are harsh enough, shouldn’t we find a way to escape them or perhaps even laugh at them for a while? After all, laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, right? Well, if you’re ailing from the blues or the melancholies or a wicked case of gloominess or perhaps even the overlooked but ever-present lack-of-amusementism, we humbly suggest you come to the festival and get a big ole dose of one, if not all, of the following remedies.



First off, if it’s laugh-out-loud, slapstick humour you need, be sure to catch Roger Alexis’s short film, Herman Tales: Gangsta. The Herman Tales series (a past winner of our People’s Choice Award) follows the shenanigans of a puppet named Herman who helps prove the theory that puppetry need not be at its finest to be at its most hilarious. This year, we meet up with Herman as he searches for a sense of belonging, which he believes he has found after joining a gang. If you enjoy taking your humour with a heavy dose of morality, then we recommend you also try Enter the Preacher, director Paulette James’ short tale of an ass-kicking, Kung-Fu fighting preacher who is on a mission to teach respect and reclaim the streets, even if he has to get down and dirty to do so.

Ironic humour more to your liking? Then feel free to laugh (ironically, of course) during the dramatic feature, Horn of Plenty, in which director Juan Carlos Tabío spins the tale of people being driven slightly nutty by the thought of instant wealth. Note: if this film had an Ingredients label, morality would definitely be on there, somewhere near the top. If you’re looking for pathos-infused humour that speaks of race and class and the human condition, then check out the Kalup Linzy videos that will be screened at StudioFilmClub on September 17. Linzy reinvents classic Soap Opera plots, but instead of tracking the lives of the white and upwardly-mobile, he follows the black inhabitants of a small, Southern-U.S. town. The fact that Linzy plays some of these rolls himself in drag (and voices all of the characters) is just one of the funny elements of this body of work, which one film critic describes as Faulkner by way of Tyler Perry.

And then there’s the hilarious, award-winning short, Melvin: Portrait of a Player, which comes to us from bfm director Lawrence Coke. We all know Melvin–he’s God’s gift to women, or so he thinks. Completely improvised and shot in a mock documentary style, Melvin is a sort of daily vitamin that will fill any deficit of humour you might be experiencing. And, as with all the other films mentioned here, it ultimately has real and significant things to say about Life (with a capital L). No joke.

* The jury’s out on this one. Shakespeare in Love won in 1998, but it’s a “Dramedy,” so some argue that it doesn’t quite count. The same applies for 2002’s Chicago, which is a “Dramedy/Musical.” Arguably, the last “pure comedy” to win was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall in 1977

Putting the TT in TTFF09

Don’t go chasing waterfalls: a shot from Sistagod II: Her Second Coming, directed by Robert Yao Ramesar of Trinidad and Tobago

“Trinidadian films? Such things exist?” If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that (or something like that), I’d be–well not rich exactly, but I’d have some good change. Yes, Virginia, Trinidadian films do exist. To explain why you probably haven’t heard about (far less seen) most of them, however, would involve getting into issues that neither time nor space allow.

Rather, let’s consider that Trinidad and Tobago does have a nascent film industry, and a crop of talented filmmakers eager to make films and access a forum where they can be seen. Which is just what the trinidad+tobago film festival provides: a place for local directors to show their films, whatever style or genre they might be. This year more than half of the 70-plus films being screened at the Festival are local. Most of these are short films–many of them coming out of the Film Programme at UWI–though there are a few of feature-length. What is wonderful about these features is that they reflect a refreshing diversity. There are films by established filmmakers, as well as up-and-coming directors; narrative films, documentaries and experimental films; and films by both women and men.

One of the more anticipated local films of the Festival is The Ghost of Hing King Estate, directed by veteran filmmaker Horace Ové. Based on true events, Hing King is a supernatural thriller about mysterious deaths on an agricultural estate. It’s perhaps the most conventional of the local features, and has an ensemble cast of who’s who in acting in Trinidad and Tobago.

Another highly anticipated film is Mariel Brown‘s documentary The Solitary Alchemist. Back in 2007, Brown’s first documentary, The Insatiable Season, took home the people’s choice award at the TTFF. That film followed mas man Brian MacFarlane during the production of his Carnival presentation for the previous year. The Solitary Alchemist is, similarly, a portrait of an artist; this time, jeweller Barbara Jardine is the subject of the gaze of Brown’s camera.

Following up the screening of his film Sistagod at the TTFF in 2006, Robert Yao Ramesar returns with that film’s sequel, Sistagod II: Her Second Coming, the second film in a post-apocalyptic trilogy about the coming of a black female messiah. An established filmmaker–some of his short films were screened at the Kairi Festival back in 2002–Ramesar has always worked in the experimental mode, and the supernatural features heavily in his symbol-laden work.

Filmmaker, artist and writer Jaime Lee Loy‘s Festival offering, Bury Your Mother, is also an experimental film. Lee Loy’s most ambitious film to date, it follows up a number of short videos, and a documentary on young, unwed mothers (motherhood is a recurring theme in her work). Of the local films being screened at the Festival that I’ve seen so far, Bury Your Mother is particularly noteworthy. It is, admittedly, a demanding, unsettling, at times even upsetting film. It is also a visually powerful, haunting, accomplished work by a talented and serious young filmmaker. That’s just my opinion, of course. See it for yourself at the TTFF and make up your own mind. In fact, see all the local films, and then if anyone ever asks you if there’s filmmaking in T&T;, you’ll be able to give them an answer.

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 2

Ishmahil Blagrove Jr., the UK-based, Jamaican-born director of Forever and This is Our Country Too

John Donne once said, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” No film festival is an island, either, even when it takes place on an island or, in our case, two. One of the best parts of putting on the trinidad + tobago film festival is the opportunity afforded to interact and form alliances with organisations and people around the world who work tirelessly to promote the moving image.

This year, we are pleased to be a festival partner of the The Black Filmmaker (bfm) International Film Festival (IFF). First held in the UK in 1998, the bfm IFF is the leading and longest running platform for Black World Cinema in the UK, catering to everyone but with a special focus towards Black, African, and Caribbean audiences. Filmmakers from the bfm IFF will join us for the run of our festival as members of panels and workshops and/or to answer questions after their films, which will be screened for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago.

Joining us is Ishmahil Blagrove Jr., a British director/producer with several documentaries under his belt. Among these are Forever (Hasta Siempre), which questions the future of Cuba in a post-Fidel era, and This is Our Country Too, which takes a searing look at an Australia divided. He is the editor of riceNpeas.com, the website of an independent film production company that specialises in producing hard-hitting social documentaries. Blagrove will be present for the screening of his films and is a panelist for the festival workshop, The Documentary: In Theory and Practice.

We’re also happy to welcome Lawrence Coke, a British director who has been making films since 1997. He will be in attendance at the festival screenings of his award-winning short films: Melvin: Portrait of a Player which is, well, a portrait of a player; Morally Speaking, a sharply observed sex comedy; and One Day at a Time, a stark, anti-gun film.

Also joining us is Rachel Wang, who teamed up with director Mark Currie in 2001 to form Chocolate Films. Over the years, they have made award-winning short dramas, documentaries, and community film projects. Wang will be present for the screening of Afro-Saxons, which takes a most intriguing look at the world of African-Caribbean women’s hairstyling in Britain.

We are honoured to welcome our bfm guests, and also pleased to announce that filmmakers from Trinidad and Tobago will be guests at the bfm IFF in London in November of this year.

We’re still not done with our guest list, though! Look out for another post or two or more on our invitees.

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 1

Carlos Reygadas of Mexico, the writer and director of Silent Light

Filmmaking is a painstaking process. It takes many dozens, even hundreds of people working for months, sometimes years to bring a film to the big screen. Which is why we at the trinidad+tobago film festival think it’s important not just to show good films, but to acknowledge the people who make these films, and give you a chance to interact with them. To that end, we’ve asked a number of directors, producers, actors/film subjects, and others to be a part of the Festival, and we’re delighted that many of them have accepted our invitation.

One of a the directors who will be in attendance is Maria Govan of the Bahamas. Her film, Rain, will open the Festival on September 15. Rain, the affecting story of a girl who battles tough odds in her quest to be a world-class sprinter, is Govan’s first feature-length film. It’s also the best Caribbean film I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m really glad Govan will be here to talk about it.

In contrast to Maria Govan, India’s Adoor Gopalakrishnan is a filmmaking veteran, a legend even. He has a dozen feature films to his credit, his latest being his Festival selection, the portmanteau film Four Women. In a career that has spanned four decades, Gopalakrishnan has gained the reputation as India’s leading art house filmmaker, and it will be quite an honour to have him here.

It will also be an honour to have Carlos Reygadas at the Festival. Reygadas, I think, is one of the best young art house filmmakers at work today: an auteur in the truest sense of the word. His films reflect an uncompromising, sometimes controversial, personal vision of what filmmaking should be–a vision quite at odds with much of contemporary cinema. And while Reygadas’ Festival selection, Silent Light, is more conventional when compared with his previous work, it nevertheless remains firmly a Reygadas film, a challenging, sometimes mystifying cinematic experience, yet ultimately a sublime and exhilarating one.

Making a second appearance at the Festival is Adam Low, the British documentarian, who was here last year for the screening of his film about VS Naipaul. This time Low’s Festival film is The Cinema of Satyajit Ray, a portrait of the late, peerless Indian filmmaker. Low will also take part in a workshop about documentary filmmaking, and lead another workshop about the use of archive material in making documentaries.

Many more guests are expected to attend TTFF09. Look out for further posts on invitees.

The unveiling of Cobo, the 09 festival artwork

Cobo, by festival artist, Eddie Bowen, the official artwork of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09

As Jonathan rightly said in the post preceding this one, yesterday was a busy day for us at the trinidad + tobago film festival/09. At 9 in the morning, we welcomed members of the press to our official media launch at the National Museum and Art Gallery. A couple hours, a few speeches, and several coffees later, we vacated the premises, only to return that evening for the unveiling of the 09 festival artwork: Cobo by festival artist, Eddie Bowen.
Once again, Marina Salandy Brown, executive director of the festival, was master (or is that mistress?) of ceremonies, and she kicked things off at 6:30 by introducing Bruce Paddington, the festival’s founding director. Bruce highlighted upcoming festival events and goals, and then turned the mic over to Lorraine Johnson, who spoke on behalf of the National Museum and Art Gallery. Over the past couple of years, the National Museum has shown solid support of the film festival. This year, they sponsored the production of the 100 limited edition prints of Cobo, and also funded the trip to Axelle Fine Arts, the New York City studio where the prints were made. Ms. Johnson spoke of a desire to continue the relationship between festival and museum—we second that emotion.
After Ms. Johnson, festival artist Eddie Bowen took the podium, speaking first on what an honour it was to be asked to produce the festival artwork. He also noted that it was challenging, but in a good way, to follow on the heels of last year’s successful edition, and also to have been given carte blanche to come up with anything he wanted—no limitations, no editing, no questions asked. Well, almost no questions. Tackling the cobo head on, so to speak, Eddie addressed his choice of subject matter, an act one gets the impression he has performed several times over the past few weeks. He spoke lyrically of being in Sans Souci and taking note of a cobo that circled nearby; a bird that is generally misunderstood, but one that he soon came to see as a representation of Trinidad and Tobago. Qualities such as intelligence and resourcefulness define the cobo, as does a high level of paranoia and a general mistrust. Bat an eyelid too loudly near a cobo and it will swiftly and nervously take flight, Eddie quipped. The audience laughed. Nervously, of course.
Once he had addressed the original artwork, Eddie spoke about the process of making the silkscreen over the course of four days with the skilled craftspeople at Axelle. What looks, from a distance, like a simple black and white print, is actually four layers of subtle colour, painstakingly applied. The last layer is a delicate blue iridescent ink—the powder required to make it costs an astounding US$800 per pound. After alluding to the fact that a visual cobo surprise awaits, Eddie highlighted the collaborative aspect of making the print and also of being the festival artist. He thanked everyone, from the folks at Axelle to Emilie Upczak, the festival’s creative director who took him around New York, to the guys and gals at our official design sponsor, Abovegroup, who have inverted, repeated, reflected, enlarged, and reduced the cobo as the star of our festival poster and other materials, and also our festival fashion designer, Claudia Pegus, who is in the process of designing our T-shirts and tote bags.
After Eddie spoke, Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs eloquently emphasised the need for co-mingling between the various disciplines of the arts, as well as our need to preserve and develop that which is unique to Trinidad and Tobago.
Marina then presented the National Museum with the first print of the edition, noting that the Museum will collect the first print of every edition the festival produces—two down, X number to go.
With everything said and the Cobo having taken flight, there was only one thing left to do: celebrate. And that we did.
Cobo in production at Axelle Fine Arts in New York City

Festival Artist, Eddie Bowen, speaks of the genesis of Cobo, while Marina Salandy Brown, executive director of the festival, looks on. Lapeyrouse Wall, the 2008 festival print is visible in the background
Ingrid Ryan-Ruben, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs
The handing over of the print to the National Museum. Left to right: festival artist Eddie Bowen; the cobo; Lorraine Johnson, Museum representative; the cobo, framed; and Marina Salandy Brown
The unveiling party in full swing
The limited edition print, Cobo, retails for TT$2,500.
For more information, contact the festival office at (+)868.621.0709 or our art sales rep, Mandilee Newton: mandilee@trinidadandtobagofilmfestival.com
Read more about Cobo on our website

The media launch

The media kit and programme schedule for the trinidad+tobago film festival/09

Yesterday was a busy day for us at the trinidad+tobago film festival. Last evening, the unveiling of the official Festival image, Eddie Bowen’s Cobo, took place at the National Museum; this was preceded in the morning by the media launch, which was also held at the Museum.

Speaking to the gathered members of the media at the launch were Bruce Paddington, the founder and director of the TTFF; Kisha Wilson, corporate communications officer of Flow, the Festival’s presenting sponsor; Carla Foderingham, the CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, one of the supporting sponsors; Wynda Chandler, community relations officer of the National Gas Company, also a supporting sponsor; and Eddie Bowen, the official Festival artist. Marina Salandy-Brown, executive director of the TTFF, was master of ceremonies.

Kicking things off was Bruce, who gave a potted history of the TTFF. He remarked that this year, submissions were up an astounding 500% over last year, and that this year’s Festival will be the biggest yet, with over seventy films, more than half of which are local films.

Kisha Wilson spoke on behalf of the cable television company Flow, the presenting sponsor of the Festival. She talked about the pay-per-view system, introduced last year, whereby films screened at the Festival will be made available after the Festival to Flow customers to watch at home, with 100% of the proceeds going to the filmmakers.

Carla Foderingham then spoke of the involvement of the T&T; Film Company with the Festival, including its sponsorship of the TT$30,000 award for best locally-made film, while Wynda Chandler spoke of the National Gas Company’s sponsorship of the US$10,000 jury prize for best film.

Rounding things out, Eddie Bowen gave a tantalising preview of his talk on the rationale behind Cobo, this year’s Festival image. He mentioned being inspired both by last year’s Festival image, Peter Doig’s Lapeyrouse Wall, and by an actual cobo he encountered at Toco, on Trinidad’s north coast. He also noted with satisfaction the carte blanche brief he was given by the Festival for coming up with the image, which seems guaranteed to get people talking.

Wynda Chandler of the National Gas Company addresses the media

Wynda Chandler, Eddie Bowen, Marina Salandy-Brown, Kisha Wilson, Bruce Paddington, and Carla Foderingham

Filmmaker Thomas Jemmerson (director of the short film Queen of the Brands, which screens on the opening night of the Festival), Emilie Upczak, Creative Director of the TTFF, and Bruce Paddington take a look at the Festival trailer

Last year’s Festival artist, Peter Doig of StudioFilmClub, and writer and Festival jury member BC Pires chat in front of a print of Doig’s Lapeyrouse Wall

What’s new, pussycat?

Cry me a river: a shot from Sita Sings the Blues, directed by Nina Paley of the USA, which screens at the TTFF09 as part of the festival’s new heritage element

The trinidad+tobago film festival is four years old this year. That’s pretty young, especially if you consider that the world’s longest-running film festival, the Venice Film Festival, got its start in 1932.

Because the TTFF is so new, we’re still very much finding our feet. We keep trying new things, tinkering with the formula for producing a great film festival, one that is up to standard with other film festivals around the globe and is also a reflection of our unique identity.

When the Festival began, it was virtually all film screenings, at one venue, with sometimes a director present. Then we added outreach screenings, taking the Festival to other parts of the country and thereby making it more geographically inclusive. Then, because the TTFF is as much about fostering local filmmaking as it is about film viewing, technical workshops and discussion panels were included. We also added people’s choice awards, to make the Festival more interactive and give filmmakers a further incentive for screening their films. And we included social events–alright, parties–which as any Trini knows need no justification.

So what’s new this year? There are two major changes. First, the awards element of the Festival has been expanded. There are still three people’s choice awards for best feature-length dramatic narrative, feature-length documentary, and short film, but these now come with cash prizes of TT$5,000 each. More significantly, there are now two jury prizes. The first, for “outstanding achievement in creating a feature film that reflects the Caribbean spirit”, is worth US$10,000. (That’s right, US.) The second, for the best locally-made film (that is, by a filmmaker resident and working in Trinidad and Tobago) is worth TT$30,000.

Also new to the Festival is the heritage element. This acknowledges and celebrates the various national cultures that have influenced the Caribbean, and Trinidad and Tobago in particular. This inaugural year the heritage element focuses on India, which not only has the world’s largest film industry but has produced some of the world’s best filmmakers and films. While most of the attention in Indian cinema usually goes to Hindi-language films–the films of Bollywood–the TTFF09 will showcase other aspects of Indian film. Pather Panchali, the majestic first film by India’s greatest ever filmmaker, the Bengali director Satyajit Ray, will be screened, along with a documentary about Ray by British filmmaker Adam Low (whose documentary on VS Naipaul was screened the Festival in 2008, and who will again be in attendance this year). A recent film by India’s current leading arthouse film director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan of Kerala, will also be screened, as well Sita Sings the Blues, an amazing animated musical version of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, by American filmmaker Nina Paley.

Other changes to the TTFF this year include the expansion of the screenings at StudioFilmClub from from two to four nights, and at the University of the West Indies to two full days and evenings. A few other smaller changes have also been made here and there, which, if you’ve been a regular at the Festival over the past few years we hope you’ll notice and enjoy. We greatly desire your input as to how the TTFF could improved in years to come, so look out for the feedback boxes at the various venues once the Festival begins. We may not have the stature of a Venice or a Cannes Film Festival just yet, but with your help we’re working on it.

Enter the Cobo


Is it possible to love a bird that feeds on the carcasses of decaying animals? Is it possible to grow increasingly fond of he of the sharp beak and dark disposition, not to mention the disarming [fill in the blank]? A few months ago, we might have blanched at these questions but, as it turns out, we at the trinidad+tobago film festival/09 have recently spent some time with a creature that encapsulates all of the aforementioned and not-so-endearing qualities—the Cobo, our local bird of prey. Having said that, you might be led to believe that we’ve been keeping company with a vulture as it simultaneously tears into a rotting fish and flaps its wings in an attempt to get us away from its dinner, but please, allow us to explain.

Every year the film festival selects an artist who creates a piece of work to serve as the primary image of the festival. In 2008, our artist was Peter Doig, whose limited edition silkscreen print, Lapeyrouse Wall, disappeared in what seemed like five minutes. It became the first picture in a new and unique collection of “Festival Art” sponsored by the National Museum and Art Gallery. Earlier this year we asked Eddie Bowen to be our Festival Artist and he enthusiastically accepted. Never one to avoid affronting the narrow-minded, Bowen pushed aside picturesque ideals of the islands, and chose to focus instead on our most notorious winged creature, a.k.a., the Cobo (or Corbeau, if you wish to be proper about it).

We’ve now heard the indignant question more than a couple of times: A Cobo? A Cobo is your festival image? Yet, through the criticisms of well-meaning folks, we’ve flown with pride next to our Cobo, claiming that although, yes, he is one nervous and devious bird with a penchant for munching foul things, he is gritty and real and a true representation of Trinidadian (and Caribbean) culture from the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in. He is a whole cast of characters—the priest, the trickster, the garbage man, the Midnight Robber. He is the shadow, he exists in the wake of our consumption, picking, cleaning, and transforming our landscape. Represented through Bowen’s eye and skillfully rendered in graphite and pen, the Cobo becomes a complex and, dare we say it, surprisingly beautiful bird.

But you’ll be the judge. Please join us at 6pm on Tuesday August 18 as we unveil Bowen’s Cobo at The National Museum and Art Gallery on Keate Street, Port of Spain. Signed and numbered limited edition silkscreen prints of the Cobo, produced by Axelle Fine Arts in New York City, will be on sale at the event for TT $2,500, or you can contact the festival office at (+)868.621.0709. There are only 100 prints in this edition; don’t miss out on the chance to casually mention to friends that you keep your very own Cobo at home, right above the dining table.

From freedom to festival

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 3

Show me the funny!

Putting the TT in TTFF09

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 2

Guess who’s coming to TTFF09, pt 1

The unveiling of Cobo, the 09 festival artwork

The media launch

What’s new, pussycat?

Enter the Cobo

View the #filmmakerfriday Playlist on Youtube

ttff/21 Merchandise

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Invitation to submit your film to ttff/21.

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22 Jerningham Ave,
Belmont, Port of Spain,
Trinidad and Tobago, WI

Tel: 1.868.323.3228