22–28 Sept 2021
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Film festival brings Bacchanal Time to Tobago

Audiences in Tobago will have the rare opportunity to see a youthful Calypso Rose and Mighty Shadow as actors in the movie Bacchanal Time, on Wednesday 30 January at MovieTowne, Tobago. The free film screening is part of the trinidad+tobago film festival’s (ttff) Carnival Film Series, which starts on 23 Jan and continues to 05 February throughout T&T.

Bacchanal Time is a wildly hilarious comedy set at Carnival time in Trinidad and crammed with the music of the season. The story is centered around an island-wide stickfight competition on Carnival Sunday, and bubbles with Carnival weekend excitement, culminating with the first bands on J’ouvert morning.

Produced in 1977, this classic Carnival film stars Gregory Ballantine (the calypsonian GB) and Kamalo Deen (who directed the film) as stickfighters, and features appearances by Rose, Crazy, Count Robin, Trinidad Rio, Mighty Wanderer, Stork St. Hill and a host of others.

This is the second time that the ttff will be showing a free film at Movie Towne, Tobago. Last August film fans crammed the cinema for the classic Hollywood film Fire Down Below, which was shot partly in the island. The upcoming screening of Bacchanal Time also follows a three-year history of free community screenings by the ttff throughout Tobago.

The Carnival Film Series features Carnival-themed narrative and documentary films, both short and feature-length. The series is sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company. Admission to all the screenings is free.

Image: Mighty Shadow in Bacchanal Time

Carnival Film Series: The Programme

Our third annual Carnival Film Series, sponsored by the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company, kicks off on 23 January. The series showcases Carnival-themed documentary and dramatic films, and takes place at venues across the country. Admission is free.

Wednesday 23 January, 7pm
Medulla Art Gallery, 37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook
Tribute to Peter Minshall
Masman: The Complete Work/TT/89 mins
Rat Race/TT/20 mins
Director: Dalton Narine

Friday 25 January, 7pm
Amphitheatre, National Library, Port-of-Spain*
Vintage Calypso, Pan and Mas on Screen: A Presentation by Ray Funk
TT/90 mins

Sunday 27 January, 7pm
Holy Faith Convent, Couva *
Mystic Fighters/TT, France, UK/52 mins
Director: Sophie Meyer
Jeffrey’s Calypso/TT, USA/25 mins
Director: Vashti Anderson
Centre-staging the Jamette: An Interview with Machel Montano/TT/30 mins

Wednesday 30 January, 7pm
MovieTowne, Tobago*
Bacchanal Time/TT/110 mins
Director: Kamalo Deen

Tuesday 5 February, 7pm
Trevor’s Edge, St. John’s Rd, St. Augustine*
Jab/TT/47 mins
Director: Alex de Verteuil
Series of short films on traditional mas characters and the fire dance
Director: Yao Ramesar

*Refreshments will be sold at these locations

Image: Mystic Fighters

Never-before-seen vintage calypso and pan footage at Carnival Film Series

Fans of calypso and pan are in for a special treat on Friday 25 January from 7pm at the amphitheatre of the National Library, as part of the third annual Carnival Film Series, hosted by the trinidad+Tobago film festival (ttff).

Sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, the series features a programme of Carnival-themed documentary and dramatic films. Films shown include feature-length and short works, and comprise both recent and classic films.

This year’s programme includes a presentation by renowned Carnival researcher Ray Funk. A retired Alaskan judge, Funk has been coming to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival for over 15 years. His presentation will show the latest treasures he has acquired in his constant quest to find rare Carnival film and television footage.

“I have found several items recently that I think will excite audiences, whether they love calypso, pan or mas,” Ray noted from his home just below the Arctic Circle. “Almost everything I will show will be over thirty years old and represents rare finds that have come from a wide variety of sources.”

For the pan enthusiasts there will be footage from the greatest steelbands in T&T history, including Dixieland in England as well as Les Flambeaux, Cavaliers, Pan Am North Stars and Desperadoes. There even will be cartoons featuring pan, including a group led by Patrick Arnold when he lived in California.

The calypso clips will include a German documentary featuring Mighty Chalkdust in the 1980s, as well as Lord Cristo at the Rose Bowl parade in the US. Also included is Sparrow’s performance in his first feature film, an Italian movie that also stars Bill Trotman as a limbo dancer.

The various mas bands in other films are harder to identify. “In filming Carnival on the streets filmmakers just shot what came by, rarely concerned whether it was George Bailey, Harold Saldenah or Stephen Lee Heung,” said Funk. “But to serious scholars or Carnival enthusiasts it is important as to exactly what bands are depicted.” Ray hopes the audience will help in the quest to identify what bands are being shown.

Ray’s passion is not only to to bring back these films that were shot in T&T and most of which have never been show here, but also to give copies of this footage to institutions like the film festival. Dr Bruce Paddington, Founder and Festival Director, believes that Ray’s research is an essential part of the educational work being carried out by the ttff. “We need to reclaim our film heritage and the Festival is dedicated to programmes like this that get the film history of T&T out to the people.”

The Carnival Film Series runs from 23 January to 05 February at venues across T&T. Admission is free to all events.

Image: Screenshot from a Carnival film that will form part of Ray Funk’s presentation

Film festival kicks off 2013 with Carnival Film Series

The trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) will launch its programme of events for this year with its third annual Carnival Film Series. Sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) as part of the T&T Film Nights community film screenings initiative, the series showcases Carnival-themed films, and takes place from 23 January to 5 February at venues across the country. Admission is free and all screenings start at 7pm.

The programme gets underway on Wednesday 23 January at Medulla Art Gallery, 37 Fitt Street in Woodbrook, where there will be a tribute to celebrated Carnival bandleader, Peter Minshall. The tribute will take the form of screenings of two films about Minshall and his work: Rat Race and Masman: The Complete Work, both directed by Dalton Narine.

Then on Friday 25 January, Carnival researcher Ray Funk will make a presentation at the amphitheatre of the National Library, Port-of-Spain. This 90-minute event will include the screening of vintage, never-before-seen video footage of Mighty Sparrow, Lord Christo, Desperadoes, Cavaliers and others.

Sunday 27 January will see the pgrogramme move into Couva, at Holy Faith Convent. Here three films will be screened: the stickfighting documentary Mystic Fighters, directed by Sophie Meyer; Jeffrey’s Calypso, a short dramatic film written and directed by Vashti Anderson; and Centre-staging the Jamette, an interview with Machel Montano conducted by Sr Theresa Vialva.

Tobago will then get its share of the action, with a screening of Kamalo Deen’s classic comedy Bacchanal Time, featuring appearances by Mighty Shadow, Crazy, Calypso Rose and others. This takes place on Wednesday 30 January, at MovieTowne in Lowlands.

The programme comes to an end on Tuesday 5 February at Trevor’s Edge, St. John’s Rd, St. Augustine. Here there will be a screening of Jab: The Blue Devils of Paramin, directed by Alex de Verteuil, and a series of short films by Yao Ramesar, on traditional mas characters and the fire dance.

Image: Peter Minshall

ttff selections enjoy international distribution success

Rain (Maria Govan/the Bahamas/2008)

Caribbean films that have screened at the ttff are enjoying significant distribution success internationally.

Recently two ttff/11 selections were picked up for distribution in the United States.

Storm Saulter’s Better Mus’ Come, winner of the people’s choice award for Best Narrative Feature at the ttff/11, has gotten Stateside distribution through Array, an offshoot of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, AFFRM. The deal comes into effect in the first quarter of 2013.

(Incidentally, the ttff/12 picks Kinyarwanda and Restless City both have US distribution through AFFRM.)

The boxing drama Ghett’a Life, also from Jamaica and written and directed by Chris Browne, will be released by MVD on DVD on 19 February, with VOD distribution through Gravitas Ventures coming soon after.

Also enjoying success is Rain, a coming-of-age drama written and directed by Maria Govan of the Bahamas, and the opening-night selection of the ttff/09. The film, which received US distribution—including broadcast on the Showtime cable network—recently crossed sales of 50,000 copies.

Film festival brings Bacchanal Time to Tobago

Carnival Film Series: The Programme

Never-before-seen vintage calypso and pan footage at Carnival Film Series

Film festival kicks off 2013 with Carnival Film Series

ttff selections enjoy international distribution success

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