Third annual Green Screen film series set to take place
The third annual Green Screen environmental film series, hosted by Sustain T&T, takes place from 31 October to 13 November. Once again, the ttff is proud to be a partner of the event.
The series comprises screenings of environmentally themed documentary films—local and international—at different venues around the country. According to the organisers, Green Screen offers “critically acclaimed feature films that tackle some of our most pressing global sustainability challenges”, and which “are paired with hard-hitting shorts.”
This year the selection of films is larger and more diverse than before, with screenings in more locations than in previous years.
On 12 November, the ttff will partner especially with Green Screen for the screening of two previous Festival selections: Nothing like Chocolate (Kum-Kum Bhavnani, ttff/12) and Earth Water Woman (Alexandra Swati Guild and Sarah Feinbloom, ttff/13). These screenings will take place at Medulla Art Gallery in Woodbrook from 7pm.
All Green Screen screenings are free of charge. For the full schedule, visit Sustain T&T’s Facebook page.
Image: a shot from Nothing like Chocolate
Walcott documentary to have special screening at UWI
Ida Does’ Poetry Is an Island: Derek Walcott, a documentary portrait of the poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate and a ttff/13 selection, will enjoy a special free screening at the University of the West Indies here in Trinidad on 01 November.
Poetry Is an Island had its world premiere at the ttff/13. Walcott attended the premiere.
The screening at UWI takes place ahead of the T&T premiere O Starry Starry Night, Walcott’s latest play.
Venue for the screening is the university’s Film Programme, which is located at 12 Carmody Road in St Augustine. The screening begins at 6.30pm. Doors open at 6pm.
Image: A shot from Poetry Is an Island
ttff Community Cinema Series resumes for 2013
Following a successful 2013 film festival, the ttff will resume its community film outreach programme, from October 18 to 26. Sponsored by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC), the Community Cinema Series will give audiences in San Fernando, Couva, La Brea and Tobago the opportunity to experience the mobile cinema experience in their communities, free of charge.
The ttff Community Cinema Series will feature ten films, exploring a diversity of themes and styles. The majority of these films are shorts, while two award-winning features—Pressure by Horace Ové and Rain by Maria Govan—will also be screened.
The Community Cinema Series rolls out on October 18 at the San Fernando Hill Recreation Grounds with Rain, a critically acclaimed family drama from the Bahamas about a promising young sprinter who seeks family roots after a devastating loss. Rain will be preceded by The Fallen People of The Black Land, an animated short film directed by T&T filmmaker Joanne Haynes.
On Saturday 19 October, the Community Cinema Series proceeds to the NGC Couva Joylanders Pan Theatre, where the classic T&T feature The Panman, directed by Kamalo Deen, will be screened. The saga of a young man from an affluent family turning down a scholarship to play pan, The Panman will be preceded by Jab In The Dark, winner of the ttff/13 People’s Choice Award for Best Short Film. The film’s director, Robert Macfarlane, will be present to introduce and discuss his film.
Then on Wednesday 23 October, primary school students and members of the Growing Leaders Foundation Programme will be treated to a series of short films at MovieTowne, Tobago.
The Community Cinema Series concludes on Saturday 26 October at the La Brea Community Centre. Held in association with the La Brea Village Council, this event will feature a screening of Pressure, by acclaimed T&T director Horace Ové. The film traces the journey of a British-born younger son of an immigrant family from Trinidad who finds himself adrift between two cultures. Producer of the film and Programme Director of the ttff, Annabelle Alcazar, will be present for a Q&A session.
“Community Cinema is an integral part of our vision and objectives at the ttff,” said Melvina Hazard, Director of Community Development, ttff. “By taking films and filmmakers directly to communities, we promote the production and appreciation of local and Caribbean films, as well as educate, entertain and inspire audiences, while using film as a platform for social transformation.”
NGC has been a Supporting Sponsor of the ttff since 2009. In 2011, the company began sponsoring community screenings throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Speaking about the 2013 Community Cinema Series, Wynda Chandler, Head of Community Relations at NGC, noted, “When we considered the power of film to reinforce the identity of a people by giving visual expression to ideas, NGC took the leap to contribute to mining a new area of national and international talent.
“With the introduction in 2011 of community screenings, NGC was happy to get the involvement of residents of satellite districts who, owing to their distance from MovieTowne—the hub of the Festival—may have found difficulty in attending screenings. NGC is also happy to involve its employee volunteers who serve as hosts in the various communities.”
Admission to the ttff Community Cinema Series is free. All screenings but the Tobago screening will start at 7pm and refreshments will be on sale. North Eleven, the ttff’s Official Screen Partner, will facilitate the technical aspects of the series.
Image: A shot from Pressure (1976)
ttff supports film screening to mark World Day against the Death Penalty
Between 1993 and 2012, the number of countries worldwide that abolished the death penalty grew from 55 to 97. By the end of last year, 140 countries—more than 2/3 of the countries of the world—were abolitionist in law or in practice.
The European Union (EU) considers capital punishment to be a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to provide a deterrent to criminal behaviour and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. Any miscarriage of justice—inevitable in any legal system—is irreversible.
In this context the EU works both on individual cases and towards moratoria of the application of the death penalty and, in due course, abolition. The EU is fully committed to continuing its efforts to promote the permanent abolition of capital punishment and funded more than €20 million worth of activities worldwide that supported capital punishment abolition.
In observance of International World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October, the EU Member States and the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the trinidad+tobago film festival and technical assistance from North 11, will host a free public screening of the documentary film Into the Abyss.
Subtitled A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life, the film was written and directed by the acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog, and tells the story of two young men convicted of a triple homicide which occurred in Texas in 2001. Michael Perry received a death sentence for the crime, and Jason Burkett received a life sentence. The film focuses on the two convicts and various people affected by the crime, including the families of the victims and a former death-row executioner. Perry’s final interviews for the film were recorded only eight days before his execution on July 1, 2010.
Critic Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and praised Herzog’s even-handedness, saying, “In some of his films he freely shares his philosophy and insights. In this film, he simply looks. He always seems to know where to look.” Variety critic Peter Debruge, meanwhile, noted, “These days, true-crime docs are a dime a dozen, and yet, Into the Abyss dares to plumb the dark hole in America’s soul…. [I]ts findings are undeniably profound.”
The free-of-charge screening of Into the Abyss takes place in the UTT Theatre at NAPA, Port of Spain, on 10 October at 6.30pm. Tickets are available at the screening as of 5.30pm on a first-come, first-served basis.
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film in focus: the last summer of la boyita
Argentinian filmmaker Julia Solomonoff is the director of The Last Summer of La Boyita, and her film—a ttff/13 selection—has broken my heart in the best possible way. I have seen few directors maintain such delicacy while effectively telling a story about a subject so potentially controversial.
Solomonoff—who teaches film directing at Columbia University and was at the ttff/13 as the facilitator of the RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion—introduced the first screening of The Last Summer of La Boyita and engaged in a Q&A session afterwards.
The film focuses on a little girl named Jorgelina, played by Guadalupe Alonso. Her sister Luciana (María Clara Merendino) has just entered puberty and predictably seeks independence and privacy away from her younger sibling. Jorgelina in turn decides to leave Luciana behind, as well as la boyita, the little camper van that bore witness to the girls’ secrets and confessions, and spend the summer in the countryside on her father’s farm. There she meets a farm boy and jockey named Mario (Nicolás Treise), whom she attaches herself to as a playmate.
Mario has already started his transition into adolescence, and it is gradually revealed that he is not “normal”. Mario has female sex organs. At birth, the doctors misidentified an enlarged clitoris for a penis and recorded the birth of a male baby. As his body changes and he continues to grow breasts and experience menstruation, he also suffers abuse and neglect from his father, who does not fully comprehend the possibilities and ramifications of such a medical situation.
The film climaxes at the horse races where Mario has to face tradition and test his manhood. If he wins, he has the chance to quell the growing prejudice of the other boys as well as prove to his father that he does possess worth, no matter what is happening underneath his clothes.
Through the friendship between Mario and Jorgelina, the beauty, kindness and innocence of children and childhood are portrayed. The Last Summer of La Boyita is both a coming-of-age tale as well as a tribute to those qualities of pre-pubescence. Set in the magnificent pampas prairies, the film is visually stunning. More than that, it is emotionally exquisite. Somonoff’s telling of this story though Jorgelina’s eyes, as she attempts to understand what Mario is going through, is quite masterful and the bittersweet nuances of the protagonists’ experiences find a way into your heart and mind and stay with you for days.
Jonathan Ali, editorial director of tfff/13, kicked off the Q&A session by addressing Solomonoff.
“This is a very touching and profoundly moving film,” he said, “about a subject that would have been very easy to treat sensationally. Yet you did it do beautifully and so subtly and poignantly. What was the inspiration behind the story?”
“There are a lot of things around me that made this film happen,” she said.
“In fact, this should have been my first feature but I didn’t have the confidence to get into the subject, so this became my second feature, and even though it is smaller in size and scope budget – it’s smaller than my first film – I felt as a director I needed to be more confident to do it.
“When I was Jorgelina’s age my mother [who] was a gynecologist and my father [who] was a psychiatrist were dealing with a very similar case to Mario, and I overheard a couple of conversations. This was a very particularly curious time and this was a particularly striking case, and I think in my imagination for many years I had a magical explanation for what happened to that boy or girl and I overlapped with a boy on the farm which was my mother’s family farm who was very shy but masculine, and I kind of mixed that together.
“Time passed and I did a lot of research because I take everything so seriously, and I did all kinds of medical and queer studies research and the biggest thing that happened is that when I was almost ready to shoot this, another film in Argentina came out with a similar subject, called XXY. It was very successful; it went to Cannes. So it really kind of forced me [to act] and in a way it was painful for me, because I felt that I have been with this film for years and all of a sudden this happens; a female filmmaker in my generation in my country. [I thought] it’s going to be very hard. In a way it forced me to really get rid of anything that was informational or research and find my own point of view on this, and to know why I wanted to still make this film and just stay closer to Jorgelina’s [point-of-view], and try to see this particular case much more through her eyes and less with any kind of explanation or context.”
Solomonoff went on to say that for her, this is the strength of the film.
“The very last scene that I filmed when we were shooting, the one where [Jorgelina] covers her ears [when her father is explaining Mario’s condition], I was very happy to find it because as an adult I couldn’t do it, but kids can do it and it was organic to the character and it was what I needed to do at that point…and not because I did not want to hear, but because I think [Jorgelina] has an answer that is more valid than any answer that the medical profession can give to this.”
“One of the most striking things is the landscape,” said Ali. “It is like another character in the film.” He then asked Solomonoff to talk about that landscape as well as the particular community that Mario and his family are from.
“We shot in the province where I was born, that is Entre Rios, and this place is incredible and the architecture is exactly as [I wrote it to be] because that architecture is that of the immigrants at the beginning of the [20th] century,” she said. “This is the way they did the houses and that was the house I spent many summers in and it was great to find the house because I felt like I knew the geography and everything around it.
“Entre Rios has many different communities—one of the oldest Jewish communities, one of the oldest Italian communities, this German community [that] is very particular, what they call Wolgadeutsche, that is, Germans that migrated to Russia because of religious persecution and then ended up in Argentina, and until probably the 60s they were very isolated, and a part of my family is related to that part and this boy that worked on the farm was part of this Wolgadeutsche community.”
An audience member also asked Solomonoff about the casting process. She revealed that when she went to visit Entre Rios and she met Nicolás, a non-actor, there was a quality to him that was exactly what she was looking for.
“Of course we saw other boys in casting but I just kept coming back to him.”
A point of interest is that the boy’s father in the film is also Nicolás’ father, Arnoldo Treise.
With respect to casting Jorgelina, Solomonoff said that it was a long process.
“We had seen hundreds of girls. A lot of the girls had the affectations of what they see acting as on TV and they did not feel real. Then in walks Guadeloupe and really I expected Jorgelina to be taller and more tomboyish. Guadeloupe is smaller but she was real.”
Since making the film both children have returned to their normal lives.