Deadline approaching for ttff/15 call for submissions
Filmmakers! Now is the time to make your submission for the tenth edition of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff). The Festival takes place from 15 to 29 September, and the deadline for film submissions is 15 May.
The ttff seeks to highlight excellence in filmmaking through the exhibition of fiction and documentary feature and short films made in T&T, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival therefore accepts submissions from Caribbean filmmakers, Caribbean filmmakers in the diaspora, and international filmmakers with films from or about the Caribbean or its diaspora. Submissions must have been produced after 01 January, 2013.
The Festival screens films of different lengths in various digital formats.
Films screened in competition are eligible for one or more jury prizes. There are also several people’s choice awards. All awards come with a cash prize.
All submissions must be made online.
There is no submission fee.
The ttff seeks to make all screenings at the Festival T&T premieres. Occasionally, however, the Festival considers films that have already been shown publicly in T&T. Please contact us directly if you have a film that falls into this category, at email@example.com.
If you have any other questions, visit our FAQ page.
The ttff reserves the right to determine the eligibility of the submissions to be screened at the Festival, the appropriate venues and time slots for the screening of films, and to use excerpts of the films for publicity purposes. All films submitted must have applicable clearances and the Festival will not be held liable.
Caption: an image from the ttff/14 selection Giraffes (Kiki Alvarez, Cuba)
Film Festival offers Private Violence for screening and public debate
Continuing it series of Community Cinergy film screenings on issues of human rights, the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) will be focusing on domestic violence with a public screening of the film Private Violence, on Sunday 19 April, 4pm, at the Laventille Community Complex in Movant.
The series is sponsored by the US Embassy. The screening of Private Violence, which will be followed by a discussion, takes place in association with the organisations the Hearts and Minds of the Police Service and FireCircle.
The ttff will also be hosting a special, schools-only screening of the film Bully, followed by a workshop conducted by the Anti-Bullying Association of Trinidad and Tobago, at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando, on 22 April.
According to the ttff’s founder and director, Bruce Paddington, “Film is a powerful medium for public education and advocacy. It has an ability to bear witness and tell stories that challenge individuals and encourage understanding, empathy and a demand for justice for all. We are thrilled to have the support of the US Embassy in this initiative.”
About Private Violence (Cynthia Hill/2014/USA/81′)
Developed as a public advocacy vehicle that engages audiences in debates, prevention and other public-action strategies, Private Violence raises a troubling fact: that sometimes the most dangerous place for a woman is in her home. This award-winning documentary takes us behind closed doors into the often invisible world of domestic violence. Through the eyes of two survivors and an advocate, we bear witness to the complicated and complex realities of intimate-partner violence. The film shatters general assumptions about why women stay in abusive relationships, and will form the basis of a public discussion to take place after the film.
The community discussion will be led by:
Officer Kevin Romany, Hearts and Minds, Inter-Agency Task Force, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service
Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, The Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Sherna Alexander, The Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals
Nicole Hendrickson and Steve Cupid Theodore, FireCircle
Luke Sinnette, The Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation
Cherylann Gajadhar, author of the book The Girl in The Cupboard and child abuse survivor
Working Women for Social Progress
Admission to the screening is free.
“A national treasure who transcended his personality”: a tribute to Jay Telfer
Everest Telfer Jr (born August 27, 1929; died March 26 2015)—”Jay” to everyone who knew him—was a stalwart of the arts scene in T&T, and a loyal patron of the trinidad+tobago film festival. We are pleased to publish this tribute to him written by ttff writer-at-large, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.
Junior Telfer was one of those Trinis you knew even if you didn’t.
Unmistakable in his daily uniform of red turban, white tunic and bespoke black pants, Jay was a fixture of the cultural scene: a habitué of pan yards and film festival screenings and of the mezzanine at the club 51 Degrees, where well into his eighties Jay could be found liming into the wee hours, dancing with a grace that humbled those a third his age.
Jay’s was a sagacious wit I was privileged to know up close—and in whose earthy wisdom I delighted from our first meeting, years ago, when I was crass enough to ask him why, beyond national pride, he styled himself like a walking T&T flag. (And Jay really was that patriotic: no recent soca song so delighted him like Benjai’s “I’m a Trini”.) Introduced by a shared friend who knew of my interest in CLR James, and who’d intimated that there was a man in Cascade I should meet, Jay had already regaled us, by that time in the evening, with rich reminiscences not only about his old friend CLR, but a half-dozen other historical figures whose paths his own had crossed. But pointing to his head-wrap’s hue, now, he fixed me with a patient smile. “Red is for living with passion,” he said. “And white is for a pure heart”—his heart was never far from his teacher Sai Baba’s locket. “But from here down,” he chuckled gently at his waist, “it’s pure niggerdom.”
Jay was a world-class character: few people manage, ever, to exude the sum of lyric charm he achieved in nearly every gesture. But as I learned on that first evening, and through dozens of subsequent conversations, the reasons he should be mourned now as a national treasure far transcended his potent personality.
Because this vivid character on the West Indian scene, as far too few know, also played a crucial series roles not merely in reflecting his culture’s course, but in shaping its worldly impacts.
His story about CLR James, in this respect, was typical both in its drama—Jay was forced to leave Trinidad, in 1961, for his ties to the great activist-scholar—and for Jay’s uncanny knack, as I’d soon learn, for being present for History.
In the late 1950s, both men had been employed by Dr Eric Williams’ independence government. While James edited the PNM’s official news organ, The Nation, Jay worked in the Economic Planning Unit, where he oversaw such signal public works projects as extending the north coast road to Las Cuevas, and building the Hilton Hotel. When James fell out with his onetime student, Dr Williams, Jay mostly agreed with the PM: much as he admired CLR’s intellect, he concurred with Dr. Williams that CLR’s aim of Trotskyist revolution, in Trinidad, were pretty unrealistic. But Jay was also a man to whom personal style and ethics were utmost; ideology could never trump either. Which was why, when Dr Williams placed James under house arrest, Jay told his boss this was no way to treat one’s old mentor: the result, when he did, was Jay’s having to leave Trinidad on a few minutes’ notice.
Such dramatic set-pieces were a staple of stories that were also always imbued, like his life’s chapters, with the dancer’s sense of timing he first cultivated as a boy, dancing in Beryl McBurnie’s company, and then perfected at New York University. This was a man once told by jazz great Thelonious Monk, in a Greenwich Village club where Jay was bussing tables, that he’d never seen anyone dance to his oblique riffs like Jay.
Little wonder, then, that when Jay fled for London, he landed right on time.
The nightclub he opened there, in an old florist’s shop on Queensway, was called the Ambience. It quickly became the meeting place for a generation of ex-pat West Indians, with surnames like Constantine and Holder and Lamming, crucial to bringing the islands to the world. But with his club’s resident steelband and integrated clientele of socialites and rock stars and minor royals, Jay’s place also had a strong claim to being the swingingest spot in swinging Sixties London.
If there was a notable from the worlds of progressive art or politics with whom to cross paths, or lure to the Ambience, in those years, then Jay did: from Muhammad Ali to Stevie Wonder to Michael X and Marcello Mastroianni, Jay forged ties with them all. He was a West Indian Forrest Gump, except with brains and depth and a core personal commitment not merely to good style, but to combatting racism’s injustice.
When in 1965 a local activist called Rhaune Laslett approached Jay to ask for help in organizing a Notting Hill Carnival, Jay got the neighborhood’s merchants on board and raised the funds so she could hold it outdoors. He also recruited his close chum Peter Minshall, then working in the theatre, to design a band for the streets. The result? Minsh’s original Paradise Lost.
And when Jay and his great love Ruth eventually returned to Trinidad and Tobago for good, in 1977, after spending some years traveling and studying in India, Jay didn’t stop. He helped steward a new musical era, in the 1980s, through his close ties to Roy Cape and Black Stalin. Leading the fight to revive the Little Carib Theatre, on whose board he served until the end, Jay settled in the lovely home in Cascade on whose leafy porch I spent countless hours, whenever visiting Trinidad and while staying in his and Ruth’s spare apartment, reasoning with Jay about poetry and football and absorbing bon mots about loyalty and life that he dispensed like lessons (“What’s the difference between my life and my wife?” he’d say of his cherished Ruth. “Nothing.”).
Jay’s talent for friendship let him forge rich bonds with both women and men, peers and kids alike. He was cherished by the many younger members of a pumpkin-vine family to whom he was “the realest filter of beautiful truths”, as one of that family’s members, Valentina Pollonais, put it at his wake. Sitting there on his porch with a cup of cocoa tea, he was also “Uncle Jay”: the old man who’d taken the time, contemplating songbirds in his yard, to name their tunes for his favourite jazz heavies.
The last time I saw Jay, though, wasn’t on his porch. Nor was it on Port of Spain’s streets, even though it was Carnival Tuesday and that stage, to this street-dramatist par excellence, was a second home. Having taken ill days before, Jay had checked into Port of Spain General Hospital. He’d been unable to wave the flag for his beloved Phase II during Panorama; what little of Carnival he’d caught was through his ward’s open window by the Savannah, across which I walked to visit him, dodging last-lap revelers on Tuesday afternoon. But propped up there in bed, Jay was utterly himself: quoting Tagore and Julius Caesar; charming nurses he called “sister”; trading verses from old midnight robber songs, with an ailing man, one bed over, whom he called “my true pardner”. Perking up further as the sounds of a passing steelband drifted up from below, his turban was still in place, his tunic impeccable. And when remarked on same, he didn’t miss a beat. “You know the other reason I dress like this,” he murmured. “It’s so that when I’m coming, you know I’m me—that this man, here, is different from the rest.”
We knew. And we know, now, what we’ve lost.
Photo caption: Jay Telfer, in turban, at a film festival screening. Seated on the right is his wife, Ruth Telfer
ttff advances its Caribbean connections
Last month, ttff representatives were invited to be guests of two regional film festivals: Festival Régional et International du Cinéma de Guadeloupe (FEMI), which ran from 13-21 March, and the Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam, (CIFFR), 25-29 March. At 21 years old, FEMI is one of the older film festivals in the Caribbean; at four years of age, CIFFR is the youngest. Both festivals are important partners of the ttff, taking place in the French and Dutch areas of the region, respectively; and both are proving important platforms for ttff to talk about its work, and to continue to reinforce the importance of our Caribbean connections in the film industry.
FEMI invites primarily the French film industry, as well as filmmakers from the French-speaking Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana) to meet and exchange; they screen films from these countries, as well as international films. At FEMI, the ttff presented two films from the ttff/14 programme, Dubois and Pan! Our Music Odyssey; gave a formal presentation in the market to enthusiastic Francophone filmmakers about the Caribbean Film Mart and Regional Film Database, launching at ttff/15; and saw Caribbean and diaspora films for consideration for ttff/15.
As icing on top of what was already a productive trip, Miquel Galofré’s ttff/14 award-winning documentary Art Connect took home the jury prize for best documentary, and Pan! Our Music Odyssey received a special mention from the jury in the best feature category.
The ttff has attended CIFFR from its inception in 2012, and has been a key partner in its growth, contributing to the development of the Yellow Robin Award for Caribbean filmmakers. The ttff again presented to an enthusiastic audience about the Caribbean Film Mart and Regional Film Database; saw Caribbean and Diaspora films for consideration for ttff/15; and supported the experience of UWI film student Anderson Edghill, who won the trip as the prize for Best UWI Film Student at ttff/14.
We were also quite pleased that ttff/14 alumnus Alex Santiago Pérez of Puerto Rico was a double winner at these festivals: his film Cows Wearing Glasses, which was in competition at the ttff last year, won the jury prize for best feature film at FEMI, and he won the Yellow Robin Award for Caribbean filmmakers at CIFFR. Alex will now have the opportunity to screen his film at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in January 2016 (Damian Marcano, director of ttff/13 prizewinner God Loves The Fighter, was the winner of the Yellow Robin Award in 2014).
FEMI and CIFFR remain excellent platforms to strengthen the ttff’s Caribbean connections. Filmmakers from all over the region are now looking forward to meeting at the 10th edition of the ttff this September, to learn, exchange, network, and celebrate this exciting time in the development of the Caribbean film industry.
We were also quite pleased that ttff/14 alumnus Alex Santiago Pérez of Puerto Rico was a double winner at these festivals: his film Cows Wearing Glasses, which was in competition at the ttff last year, won the jury prize for best feature film at FEMI, and he won the Yellow Robin Award for Caribbean filmmakers at CIFFR. Alex will now have the opportunity to screen his film at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2016 (Damian Marcano, director of ttff/13 prizewinner God Loves The Fighter, was the winner of the Yellow Robin Award in 2014).
Photo: Miquel Galofré, left, and Nneka Luke, External Relations Director, ttff, at FEMI. Luke collected the prize for Pan! Our Music Odyssey on the filmmaker’s behalf
Human rights focus for Community Cinergy series
The trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) continues to use film as a vehicle for social discourse and transformation, through its annual community Cinergy film series. On April 12, 19 and 22, the ttff and the US Embassy—sponsors of the series—will present three free film screenings to promote human rights.
Working with community activists and the embassy, the ttff will promote public awareness for the protection of the rights of women, children and the LGBT community in Trinidad and Tobago. The screening of three US films with topical and local resonance, focusing on domestic violence, bullying and gay-rights issues will each be followed by a community discussion, workshop and panel discussion, respectively, in order to foster dialogue on the issues of personal freedom, security, community support, public policy and legislation.
“Advancing human rights is central to our foreign policy,” Stephen Weeks, Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy said, “and the fantastic programme put together by our friends at ttff demonstrates how film can start conversations that build stronger, more inclusive communities.”
The issues to be highlighted and films to be screened are:
LGBT rights: Pariah (Dee Rees/2011/86’/) on Sunday 12 April, 6:30pm, Woodbrook Youth Facility
In the coming-of-age film Pariah, Alike is a shy but talented Brooklyn teenager striving to survive adolescence with grace, humour and tenacity—sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward. The film follows her as she struggles with her conflicting identities, risks friendship and family, and faces heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. There will be panel discussions before and after the film. This screening is being held in association with the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO).
This film is rated for viewers aged 16 years and over.
Domestic violence: Private Violence (Cynthia Hill/2014/81’/PG13) on Sunday 19 April, 4:00pm, Laventille Community Complex
Sometimes the most dangerous place for a woman is in her home. Private Violence, an award-winning documentary, takes us behind closed doors into the often invisible world of domestic violence. Through the eyes of two survivors and an advocate, we bear witness to the complicated and complex realities of intimate-partner violence. The film shatters general assumptions about why women stay in abusive relationships, and will form the basis of a public discussion led by community activists after the film.
This film is rated PG13.
Bullying: Bully (Lee Hirsch/2011/98’/PG13) on Wednesday April 22, 9:00am, Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA)
As the problem of bullying in schools becomes more critical, this presentation of the documentary Bully, to be followed by a workshop, seeks to engage students and educators in preventing the problem and finding solutions. The film offers an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families. This will be a special screening for students; schools wishing to attend are invited to email ttff’s Director of Community Development, Melvina Hazard, for information and bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a workshop conducted by the Anti-Bullying Association of Trinidad and Tobago after the film.
This film is rated PG13.
Admission to all three screenings is free.
Image: A still from Pariah