22–28 Sept 2021
Save the Date

Schedule change

A still from Themba (Stephanie Sycholt, South Africa, 2010)

Please note the following changes to the ttff schedule.

TODAY at 12:30pm, MovieTowne Port of Spain

The screening of A Hand Full of Dirt (as advertised in the newspaper) and Izulu Lami (as advertised online) will not take place. Instead, there will be a screening of Themba.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.


A still from Terra Estrangeira (Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas, Brazil, 1996)

The film festival catalogue lists the screening of Terra Estrangeira at Studiofilmclub as taking place on Friday 1 October. This is incorrect. The screening is on Thursday 30 September, at 7.30pm. One of the film’s directors, Daniela Thomas, will be in attendance.

We apologise for any possible inconvenience caused.

Schedule changes

A still from Maaangamizi (Martin Mhando + Ron Mulvihil, Tanzania, 2001)

Please note the following changes to the ttff schedule.

TODAY at 5:30pm, MovieTowne Chaguanas

The screening of Izululu Lami will not take place. Instead, there will be a screening of Maangamizi.

Monday, September 27

The New Caribbean Cinema screenings will not take place. They will be replaced by Trapped in an Elevator and Alamar.

So, you’re a filmmaker, huh?

Earlier today, the trinidad+tobago film festival hosted the first of two free filmmakers’ panels at our sponsor hotel, The Carlton Savannah. Admittedly, we were a bit apprehensive that no one would turn up – scheduling anything at ten in the morning of a public holiday is often a risky venture. Thankfully, quite a few film-interested people were present to hear local and visiting filmmakers talk about their experiences.

Moderated by ttff creative director, Emilie Upczak, the panel consisted of Ciro Guerra (Colombia, The Wind Journeys), Ryan Khan (TT, The Midnite Affair), Miquel Galofré (Spain, Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast?), Kareem Mortimer (The Bahamas, Children of God), Adam Taub (USA, The Duke of Bachata), Marc Barrat (French Guiana, Orpailleur), Tracy Assing (TT, The Amerindians), and Haik Gazarian (Venezuela, Venezzia).

After introductions had been made, the filmmakers – whose films in the ttff/10 range from documentaries to dramatic features – gave some insight into why they chose to tell their particular stories. For Mortimer, his film is a way of making a contribution towards the dialogue of homophobia in The Bahamas; for Assing, hers is an attempt to unravel the mystery of her own identity and to tell an ongoing and evolving story, and for Galofré, his film is an exploration as to how a group of six or so athletes have made such a small country feel tremendous pride.

Up next was the question of funding – how had these filmmakers raised the money to make their films? Barrat spoke of funding from French government channels. Gazarian mentioned that he started off with the idea for the story and then pulled together a group of his friends – passionate people who wanted to see the project developed and the story told. This group of people pooled resources and, once the script had been developed, Gazarian submitted it for a grant, which he won. Going a bit further, Gazarian said, “Every film festival is extremely important: small, medium, large, if you are a filmmaker, it’s important to have your work get out there. The trinidad+tobago film festival is a unique festival; there’s no other like it that focuses on the stories of people from the region.”

Khan spoke about the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company’s equity funding programme whereby he and three other filmmakers were given a relatively small amount of money to make three films, which they did to the best of their ability given the budgetary limitations. “The TTFC expects an exact return on what they’ve invested, so nothing is really guaranteed,” he said. However, filmmakers own a percentage of their films and if the film doesn’t recoup the cost of making it, they are not indebted to pay back the money.

After funding came the question of distribution. Here, Taub perhaps wins the prize for guerilla marketing of his own film – he did a series of East- and West-Coast driving trips where he would contact Latin American organizations, or go to various music festivals, set up a portable screen, and show his bachata documentary. Out of his efforts came distribution through companies such as Best Buy, who sell his film packaged with music. He then receives a percentage of the sales.

Mortimer is set to have a small theatrical release in January in the US, and his film has been sold internationally in the US, UK, France, Belgium, and Germany. “I made the first two sales. It’s a hustle,” he says, but, two months ago, Wide Management took on the film so he no longer has to deal with sales. In Guerra’s case, once his film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival, it was bought by Wild Bunch management. Since then, it has been sold in 17 countries – US, Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand, to name a few. When it comes to distribution, “leave it to professionals,” he suggests.

Gazarian then spoke about the need for us to be ourselves and to tell stories that are from us. “Sometimes when you’re living in a country you don’t realize the highlights,” he says. Every place is unique; one way or another it’s good to add some of that place to your films. The more true you are to telling your stories, the more success you’ll have for that film to get picked up or noticed.”

Equipment and crew was the last issue tackled; with a wide range of answers across the panel. According to Gazarian, “technology is working to our advantage these days but first you need to tell the story.” Assing spoke about difficulties with format; of PAL vs NTSC. Barrat favoured Super 35 for his film because it lent itself well to the beauty of the region he was highlighting and the fact that he only used natural light. Taub was his only crew and he shot on mini DV, standard definition, which suited his film. He also did all his sound work. Mortimer shot on The Red One Camera with a crew of over 30. Galofré rented a camera in Jamaica and had a crew of three and acknowledged that there were places he couldn’t have gone with a bigger camera or more crew members. Khan shot on HD and also did some of the editing.

With a crew of 50, Guerra shot on Super 35, which, like Barrat, was the right choice for the look and feel of the film he had envisioned. “Digital will never be film, it will never look like film,” he said. “They are completely different; it’s like oil painting versus watercolour. My first film was a black-and-white urban story so I used digital. You need to sense what is right for the story you’re telling. In whatever you do, your decision should be artistic versus economic.”

The second filmmakers’ panel takes place Friday, October 01 at 10am at The Carlton Savannah. Admission is free and all are welcome. View list of participants here.

Schedule change

A still from Linha de Passe (Daniela Thomas + Walter Salles, Brazil, 2008)

Please note the following change to the ttff schedule.

Friday 24th September, 5:30pm, MovieTowne Chaguanas

The screening of Themba will not take place. Instead, there will be a screening of Linha de Passe.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Locations for UWI events

Please note the following dates and locations for all film screenings and the adaptation workshop with Caryl Phillips taking place at the University of the West Indies as part of the ttff/10. Check the Festival schedule for the films being screened and their screening times.

Friday 24th September

Daytime screenings: Centre for Language Learning (CLL) auditorium

Friday 1st October

Daytime screenings: Institute for Critical Thinking (ICT)

Evening screening: Students Activity Centre

Saturday 2nd October

Workshop: Humanities building, level 3, room SB3

Evening screenings: Students Activity Centre

NOTE: CLL and ICT are in the same building. The CLL auditorium is on the second floor, ICT is on the third

Schedule change

A still from Insolaçaõ (Daniela Thomas + Felipe Hirsch, Brazil, 2009)

Please note the following change to the ttff schedule.

Friday 24th September, 12:30pm, MovieTowne Port of Spain

The screening of New Caribbean Cinema will not take place. Instead, there will be a screening of Insolaçaõ.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

On the Caribbean film beat

For nearly two decades, Caribbean Beat magazine has covered the arts, culture and lifestyle of the Caribbean with a panache and sophistication that no other publication has come close to matching.

We were very pleased, therefore, when, a few years ago, Beat became an official media sponsor of the trinidad+tobago film festival. This year, to coincide with the Festival, the September/October issue of the magazine focuses on Caribbean film.

In addition to a piece on the ttff in the issue, there is also a story on the “new wave” of Caribbean cinema. The story gives a short history of the Caribbean’s film industry, and profiles a number of young filmmakers from the region, most of whom have either screened films at the Festival, or will be screening films at the Festival for the first time this year.

If you haven’t yet read the current issue of Beat, check it out now.

A little TIFF

11 days. 300 films. 300,000 tickets.

No, that’s not the new boast of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff). (And thank goodness for that. We have enough of a challenge programming 70-odd films; imagine trying to programme 300!)

Rather, those are the stats for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the largest public film festival in the world, and, increasingly, one of the most important.

The 35th edition of TIFF concluded two days ago, and I was privileged to be there for roughly the festival’s first half (September 9 to 14), as a representative of the ttff. I had two main reasons for being at TIFF. The first was to interact with various film industry professionals (filmmakers, distributors, funding agencies et al) for the purpose of establishing links with the ttff. The other was to see what tips I could pick up from the world’s largest film festival that would be useful at ours.

If the way TIFF works can be used as a guide, I am happy to report that the ttff is doing pretty well in terms of how it operates. Of course our festival functions on a much smaller scale, but the basics–how a film festival fundamentally works–are the same. Films need to be chosen for screening, a schedule has to be programmed, filmmakers have to be invited, and so on.

One of the nice things about TIFF is that while it is a large festival, it doesn’t feel that way. All of the events take place in Toronto’s entertainment district, within walking distance of each other, and there are enough different things happening at any one time that no one event gets too crowded. Of course, that means that sometimes two events you’d like to go to–a film screening and a conversation with a filmmaker, say–take place at the same time, but a film festival, especially one showing 300 films, is nothing if it isn’t about choices. (“What will you see?” was the tagline of this year’s TIFF.)

Relaxing in the filmmakers’ lounge

The place to be between events was the filmmakers’ lounge. That was where you came to relax, have a cup of coffee, check your e-mail, and, perhaps most importantly, network. Most networking, not surprisingly, got done every afternoon during happy hour, when the beer and wine were free, and there were complimentary hors d’oeuvres on offer.

At the filmmakers’ lounge: Sharon Lewis, Canadian filmmaker, from left; Mariel Brown, Trinidad & Tobago filmmaker; and Lisa Harewood, producer, from Barbados

Also taking place at the filmmakers’ lounge were a few discussion panels, on such topics as funding for independent filmmakers and documentary film production. The event I most enjoyed, however, was a completely frivolous session hosted by renowned film critic (and one of my heroes), Roger Ebert, entitled Roger Ebert’s Twitter Showdown. This entailed Ebert making a film-related statement, after which a panel of five noted film tweeters (including the actor Rainn Wilson, of the US version of The Office) would have a minute to tweet a response. (Sample statement/response: Ebert: “3D is an abomination on the face of modern cinema.” Wilson: “Katherine Heigel is an abomination on the face of modern cinema.”) The audience then got to vote on whose response was the best. This went on for a while, until Ebert called an end to proceedings and a winner was announced. Not surprisingly, Rainn Wilson won.

The Roger Ebert Twitter Showdown panel, with Ebert second from left, and showdown winner Rainn Wilson fourth from left

The big news at TIFF this year was the opening of the festival’s new home, the Bell Lightbox. This impressive six-storey building has a number of features, including multiple screening theatres, an exhibition space, and two restaurants. To celebrate the opening of the Lightbox, TIFF launched Essential Cinema, a programme of the 100 greatest films of all time, as voted on by the TIFF programmers and patrons.

Filmmakers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog in conversation at the Lightbox

Having lunch at the Lightbox with Charlene McLaughlin, from left, and Deborah Dexter, both of the Brand Marketing division of RBC, and Nneka Luke, Regional Manager, Corporate Communications, RBC/RBTT. RBC is one of the main sponsors of TIFF; RBC/RBTT is a supporting sponsor of the ttff

Talking of films, what’s a film festival without them? There was no way I was going to get to see anywhere near the number of films I would have liked, but those I did see I enjoyed, for the most part. Far and away the most impressive film I saw was the western Meek’s Cutoff, the new film by US filmmaker Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy). Set in the mid-19th century, and starring Michelle Williams, the film tells the story of a group of pioneers who get lost on the wagon trail heading out west. To me, the film is no less than an allegory on the history of the United States.

Other films I enjoyed were a powerful French drama, Of Gods and Men; the enchanting animated feature The Illusionist (by Sylvain Chomet, of The Triplets of Belleville fame); and Stephen Frears’ comedy Tamara Drewe, based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic-novel update of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. I was also impressed by Dhobi Ghat, a debut drama by a young Indian filmmaker, Kiran Rao.

When I left Toronto, the festival was now getting into high gear. Disappointed as I was to leave, however, I was happy about the reason I was leaving: there was a certain other film festival I had to go and see about.

Schedule changes (updated)

Still from Izulu Lami (Madoda Ncayiyana/South Africa/2009)

Please note the following changes to the ttff/10 schedule.

The screenings of A Hand Full of Dirt at MovieTowne Chaguanas on September 24 at 5.30pm, and at MovieTowne Port of Spain on September 29 at 12.30pm, have been replaced by screenings of the films Themba: A Boy Called Hope and Izulu Lami (My Secret Sky), respectively.

Also, the screenings at UWI carded to take place at 12 Carmody Road, St Augustine on September 24 at 7.30pm, and October 2nd at 7pm, will now take place in the open air at the Students Activity Centre on the main campus. Dates and times remain the same. Patrons are asked to bring their own seating/blankets.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

FURTHER UPDATE: The daytime screenings at UWI on September 24 take place in the auditorium of the Centre for Language Learning. The daytime screenings on October 1 take place at the Institute for Critical Thinking. Both CLL and ICT are in the same building on the UWI main campus.

Schedule change


Schedule changes

So, you’re a filmmaker, huh?

Schedule change

Locations for UWI events

Schedule change

On the Caribbean film beat

A little TIFF

Schedule changes (updated)

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