For the third year in a row, the trinidad and tobago film festival (ttff) will feature a presentation of never-before-seen footage of vintage calypso, pan and mas, by Alaska-based retired judge and Carnival researcher, Ray Funk. This event—the final installment in the ttff’s Carnival Film Series (CFS)—will will take place on Sunday 25 January at the NALIS amphitheatre in Port of Spain from 6:30pm. Admission is free.
The presentation, entitled Ray Funk Presents: Calypso Craze, will also see the T&T launch of Calypso Craze: 1956-57 and Beyond. A project ten years in the making, Calypso Craze is a box set containing a 176-page hardcover book, a DVD and six CDs, compiled by Ray Funk and Michael Eldridge for Bear Family Records in Germany.
The set provides a comprehensive survey of the “calypso craze” that swept America in 1957, in part fuelled by the the million-selling album Calypso by Harry Belafonte. The intensity of the craze caused the American entertainment industry to forecast that calypso would kill rock and roll.
“This project grew out of a travelling and online exhibition that I co-curated over a decade ago on the globalisation of calypso music with Steve Stuempfle, then curator of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and now executive director of the Society for Ethnomusicology,“ Funk recalls.
“I worked on this for several years and more recently brought in Michael Eldridge, who teaches at Humboldt State University in California and who has done extensive work on this period of calypso history.”
Since being released internationally, Calypso Craze has drawn glowing reviews. Black Grooves, the journal of the African-American music archives at Indiana University, called it “a true labour of love”, while Record Collector magazine deemed it “definitive” and “absorbing”. Uncut magazine declared it “an absolute delight”.
For the presentation at NALIS, Funk will be playing clips from the box-set’s DVD, as well as from two of the three calypso-themed films released in 1957, Bop Girl Goes Calypso and Calypso Heat Wave, the latter starring Maya Angelou. There will also be television footage from 1957, including Boris Karloff (of Frankenstein fame) singing “Mama Look a Booboo”, and an extempo calypso scene from a 1952 film, involving James Mason.
Last October, Funk launched a book of George Tang’s photographs on the Carnival bands of the late Stephen Lee Heung, We Kind ah People. At NALIS, Funk will show some previously unseen film footage that Tang shot of those bands. Additional footage will include home movies of Carnival from the 1960s, as well as the Mighty Sparrow’s first film appearance, from a 1956 Caribbean travelogue commissioned by KLM airlines.
“My goal each year is to offer an enjoyable look into the film history of Carnival,” said Funk. “This year I will be focused primarily but not exclusively on the calypso craze and I guarantee you will see footage that you have never seen before.”
Ray Funk Presents: Calypso Craze will be preceded by two short films, Living Legacies: Trains in Trinidad and Living Legacies: Clay and Dirt Ovens in Trinidad and Tobago, produced with the support of the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration, a sponsor of the 2015 edition of the CFS.
The public is advised that no refreshments will be on sale, so please feel free to bring your own.
Image: Maya Angelou in Calypso Heat Wave
Carnival Film Series to honour The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Superior, Pan! and the Calypso Craze
The trinidad+tobago film festival is starting off its 10th anniversary celebrations on a high note with its 5th annual Carnival Film Series (CFS). Over the past four years, the CFS has presented diverse and unusual representations of Carnival on film and screen. Films have included tributes to pioneers such as Lord Superior, Calypso Rose and Shadow, Peter Minshall and other Carnival practitioners in narrative and documentary forms. In addition, the highly entertaining, anecdotal presentations on vintage Carnival by historian Ray Funk has continued to delight and surprise audiences. For this year’s Carnival Film Series, the ttff promises even more diversity and entertainment. Admission is FREE to all screenings and presentations for the Carnival Film Series.
Calypso Dreams and Tribute to Midnight Robber, Brian Honoré at UWI
The first of the four-part 2015 Carnival Film Series will be shown on Saturday January 17 from 6:30pm at the UWI Film Department’s Studio at 12 Carmody Road, St Augustine. The programme will feature Calypso Dreams – directors Geoffrey Dunn and Michael Horne’s chronicle of the rich and complex cultural roots of calypso music in Trinidad and Tobago. Also on the programme is Robbertalk, a special film and Midnight Robber performance tribute to Brian Honoré, one of this country’s most popular Midnight Robbers, on the 10th anniversary of his passing. This will be preceded by Living Legacies: Trains in Trinidad; and Clay and Dirt Ovens in T&T – two short documentaries produced with the support of the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.
The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior at the Globe Cinema:
Next, the CFS moves on to the highly-anticipated Caribbean premiere of The Glamour Boyz Again: Sparrow and Lord Superior on The Hilton Rooftop, at the Globe Cinema, on Sunday January 18. At this screening, both Sparrow and Lord Superior will be present to receive honorary awards by the Embassy of The United States of America, Port of Spain. The audience in the 1,200 seat Globe Cinema will also be treated to an exclusive live performance by both honourees. This special event is sponsored by RBC Royal Bank in association with the Embassy of the United States of America. The International Art Alliance (IAA) is also working closely with the Embassy to facilitate the awards and the participation of The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior. This event starts at 6pm and doors open at 5pm. THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT
Pan! Our Musical Odyssey at San Fernando Hill
On Friday January 23 from 6.30pm, San Fernando Hill will become an outdoor cinema for the special showing of Pan! Our Musical Odyssey, which recently had its theatrical release at local cinemas. Limited DVDs and CDs of the film will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be on sale and limited seating will be provided. Audiences are invited to bring their own seating and refreshments.
Ray Funk Presents: Calypso Craze at NALIS, Port of Spain
The CFS will conclude at NALIS Amphitheatre on Sunday January 25 from 6.30pm, with Ray Funk Presents: Calypso Craze. Once again, Alaskan-based Carnival historian Ray Funk will thrill audiences with rare vintage Carnival film clips—this time focusing on the Calypso Craze—a comprehensive survey of the excitement for calypso that swept America in 1957 when the whole American entertainment industry thought calypso would kill rock and roll. This presentation at the NALIS Amphitheatre will also coincide with the official launch of the book, CD and DVD set of the same name. Both events on this weekend will be preceded by Living Legacies: Trains in Trinidad; and Clay and Dirt Ovens in T&T, produced with the support of the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.
The trinidad+tobago film festival is presented by Flow, and given supporting sponsorship by the Embassy of the United States of America.