Four films vie for Amnesty International Human Rights Prize at ttff/15
For the second year in a row, Amnesty International will award a human rights film prize at the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which runs from September 15–29.
Established in an effort to support the promotion of human rights in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Prize will be awarded to the maker of the feature-length Caribbean film screening at ttff/15 which best highlights a human rights issue.
“We are enthusiastically continuing our cooperation with the trinidad+tobago film festival this year as we remain convinced that films and filmmakers play an important role in promoting human rights,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, thematic adviser at Amnesty International.
“What may seem a remote and abstract UN instrument can suddenly become a close reality when analysed through the camera lens—something affecting a friend, a neighbour, our country. Through this prize we wish to more formally acknowledge the efforts of filmmakers and activists in the Caribbean to raise awareness about human rights in the region.”
This year four films—all documentaries—will be in competition for the prize, one more than last year. They are:
Director: Aleksandra Maciuszek
Citizens of Nowhere
Directors: Regis Coussot and Nicolas Alexandre Tremblay
Countries: Dominican Republic, Haiti
The Last Colony
Director: Juan Agustín Márquez
Country: Puerto Rico
My Father’s Land
Directors: Miquel Galofré and Tyler Johnston
Countries: The Bahamas, Haiti
“We are pleased to see more films selected for this year’s Festival grappling with human-rights issues,” said Jonathan Ali, Editorial Director of the ttff. “The range of issues considered is also noteworthy. Both Citizens of Nowhere and My Father’s Land deal with the status of Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the Caribbean, a timely subject. The Last Colony considers the sovereignty issue in Puerto Rico, also timely, given the economic crisis there. And Casa Blanca is an intimate look at the status of the elderly and the mentally disabled in Cuba.”
The winning film will be chosen by a three-person jury. This year’s jury comprises Blanca Granados, Head of Industry at the Cartagena International Film Festival in Colombia; Jason Nathu, an attorney-at-law responsible for the Human Rights Law Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School in T&T; and Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s London-based coordinator of the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty.
In addition to receiving a trophy, the winning filmmaker will also be given a cash prize of TT$5000. The ttff and Amnesty International will also assist the winning film in getting screened as widely as possible throughout the region.
Last year’s winning film was The Abominable Crime, a documentary directed by Micah Fink, about Jamaica’s LGBT community. Since then, Amnesty International USA has supported the screening of The Abominable Crime at the Pulitzer Center in New York City. There was also a screening of the film in Mexico City to celebrate the opening of Amnesty International’s regional office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and both the film and associated tools have been promoted through Amnesty International’s activists.
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than three million members, supporters and activists in over 150 countries and territories. The organisation exposes human rights violations and campaigns for justice around the world. It is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion, and is funded mainly by its membership and public donations.
Caption: Clockwise from top left, stills from Casa Blanca, Citizens of Nowhere, The Last Colony and My Father’s Land
Symposium on Caribbean cinema to be held at ttff/15
A group of regional and international scholars will converge in Port of Spain this September, to examine some of the core issues driving and impacting contemporary Caribbean cinema.
Organised by the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) in association with the Film Programme of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, the Caribbean Cinema Now symposium will be held from Thursday 24–Saturday 26 September, at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad. The symposium takes place during the ttff/15, which runs from 15–29 September.
Caribbean Cinema Now will use the work of Caribbean filmmakers to explore issues such as the aesthetics of resistance, the politics of hunger, new Cuban cinema, Puerto Rican identity in the twenty-first century, and the use of folklore to take back and decolonise knowledge.
The presentation of papers includes: “My story is not a nice story: Raoul Peck’s African films”, by Professor Jane Bryce, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill; “Female directors and kinship in Caribbean cinema: An ongoing trend” by Norma Liz Rodríguez-Santiago, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras; and “Telling Caribbean stories: Storm Saulter’s place in the new Caribbean canon” by Rachel Moseley-Wood, University of the West Indies, Mona.
There will also be presentations by scholars from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine; University of Missouri; New York University; University of Kansas; the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry; and University of the French West Indies.
According to Bruce Paddington, Founder and Festival Director, ttff, “With the Festival marking its tenth anniversary this year, we felt it was important to formally acknowledge the place of Caribbean film in the canon of film studies. The symposium, with presentations by a renowned group of regional and international academics, marks an important stage in the validation and acceptance of Caribbean cinema.”
Caribbean Cinema Now takes place in the San Fernando room of the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, each day from 1.30pm–3.30pm. The symposium is free and open to the public. As there is limited space, pre-registration is recommended. Call + 1 (868) 621.0709 or email@example.com to do so. For more information about the ttff, visit ttfilmfestival.com.
Image: A still from Eat, for This Is My Body (Michelange Quay, Haiti/France, 2007)
Juries announced for films in competition at ttff/15
The juries that will decide the two main competitive sections at the 2015 trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which takes place from 15–29 September, have been announced.
Each jury is comprised of three members. The first jury will determine the best feature-length films (fiction and documentary) from the Caribbean and also from Trinidad and Tobago, while the second will decide the best short films (fiction and documentary) from the Caribbean as well as Trinidad and Tobago.
The jury that will choose the Amnesty International Film Prize, for the Caribbean film that best highlights a human-rights issue, has also been chosen. This jury is also comprised of three members.
The members of the three ttff/15 juries are as follows.
Shonali Bose is a filmmaker. Her debut narrative feature film, Amu (2005), opened at the Berlin International Film Festival. Bose’s second feature film, Margarita, With a Straw (2014; ttff/15), opened at the Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim.
Jaie Laplante is the Director of the Miami International Film Festival, a position he has held since 2010. He began his career as a critic and journalist in Canada in the late 1980s. He was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Advisory Board in 2013.
Nicole Guillemet served as Vice-President of the Sundance Institute and Co-Director of the Sundance Film Festival for over fifteen years. She is an executive producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square (2013).
The features jury will adjudicate the following categories:
Best Feature Film – Fiction
Best Feature Film – Documentary
Best Trinidad and Tobago Feature Film – Fiction
Best Trinidad and Tobago Feature Film – Documentary
Diana Cadavid is a Programming Associate at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she has provided support for the Ibero-American programme for the past six editions. She is also Programming Manager for the International Film Festival of Panama.
Romola Lucas is the Co-Founder of the Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), a Brooklyn-based not-for-profit organisation working to increase the visibility of Caribbean filmmakers both in the region and in the diaspora.
Percy Pinedo is the Director of the Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam. A native of Curaçao, he is project leader of all projects of the Fundashon Bon Intenshon (Foundation for Good Intention).
The shorts jury will adjudicate the following categories:
Best Short Film – Fiction
Best Short Film – Documentary
Best Trinidad and Tobago Short Film – Fiction
Best Trinidad and Tobago Short Film – Documentary
Amnesty International Human Rights Prize
Blanca Granados is Head of Industry at the Cartagena International Film Festival in Colombia, curator of the Ibero-American section of the International Film Festival of India in Goa, and Director of Public Relations for the International Film Festival of Panama.
Jason Nathu is an attorney-at-law and a tutor at the Legal Aid Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago. He is also responsible for the Human Rights Law Clinic, in which he trains students in human rights education and advocacy.
Chiara Sangiorgio joined Amnesty International’s global death penalty team in 2008, and has since then coordinated its campaign for the abolition of the death penalty. She has also coordinated Amnesty International’s work in support of the UN General Assembly’s resolutions on a moratorium on the death penalty.
The ttff/15 awards ceremony will take place on Sunday 27 September in Port of Spain.
Image: the ttff/15 jurors, clockwise from the top left corner: Shonali Bose, Jaie Laplante, Nicole Guillemet, Percy Pinedo, Chiara Sangiorgio, Jason Nathu, Blanca Granados, Diana Cadavid, Romola Lucas
Panorama lineup of international films announced for ttff/15
Twenty-five feature-length films from world cinema will screen at the 2015 trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which takes place from 15–29 September.
This section of films, known as the Panorama section, is comprised of fiction films and documentaries from around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago’s “heritage” countries and regions, which include India, Africa, Europe, China and the Middle East. There will also be films from Latin America and the USA, and—for the first time—Mauritius.
The lineup includes many prestigious titles from the international film festival circuit. One such film is the Indian legal drama Court, directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, which had a prizewinning premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Also screening will be the Kenyan LGBT-themed portmanteau drama Stories of Our Lives, directed by Jim Chuchu. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and subsequently screened at the Berlin International Film Festival, both to great acclaim.
Another acclaimed Berlin selection, Anna Muylaert’s Brazilian domestic-worker comedy-drama The Second Mother, will screen at ttff/15. So to will Zhou Hao’s The Chinese Mayor, a political documentary that bowed at the Sundance Film Festival.
Amy, Asif Kapadia’s Cannes-premiering study of the life and death of British singer Amy Winehouse, is also a ttff/15 selection. And Tales of the Grim Sleeper, acclaimed documentarian Nick Broomfield’s investigation of the crimes of a serial killer in Los Angeles, will be presented at the ttff/15 by Broomfield himself, who will lead a masterclass at the Festival.
All of these films, and most of the others in the Panorama section, will be making their Caribbean premiere at the ttff/15. For the full lineup, visit www.ttfilmfestival.com.
Today’s announcement of films adds to the lineup already announced for the ttff/15: the opening night film (Haitian documentary Sweet Micky for President) and the feature-length and short Caribbean films screening in and out of competition. The experimental and avant garde films of the Festival’s New Media section will be announced soon.
Image: A still from Amy
Bring the magic of movies to children at the ttff/15
In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) is giving you the opportunity to enable children to see movies at the ttff/15.
Under the DreamTicket initiative, boys from the St Dominic’s Children’s Home and the St Michael’s Home for Boys, and girls from the St Jude’s Home for Girls will get to attend screenings of family-friendly films during the ttff/15, which takes place from 15–29 September.
You can contribute to DreamTicket by making a donation of TT$100 for each child who will be attending the screenings. Your donation will cover the purchase of a movie ticket, snacks and a drink, and transportation costs to and from the cinema for one child.
Of course, if you wish to sponsor more than one child, you are welcome to do so!
You can make your donation to DreamTicket in one of three ways:
• Via the secure PayPal online payment system here
• To the ttff’s bank account (a/c number 110000000711026) at RBC Royal Bank, Maraval branch
• In cash at the film festival’s offices, 199 Belmont Circular Road, any weekday between the hours of 10.00am and 3.00pm
Every little bit helps. We thank you for your contribution.
Lineup of Caribbean film selections announced for ttff/15
Politics, human rights and a nuanced view of issues affecting the Caribbean feature strongly in this year’s line-up of Caribbean films at the 2015 trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which takes place from 15–29 September.
From the plight of Dominicans of Haitian descent to the impact of Western policies on Caribbean societies, the twenty-five feature-length films and forty-nine short films portray the subtleties and realities of Caribbean life as told by those who populate the region.
The feature films—thirteen fiction films and twelve documentaries—form the core of the ttff’s lineup. Eight of the fiction features and seven of the documentaries will be in competition.
One of the fiction films in competition is Haitian auteur Raoul Peck’s Murder in Pacot, a chamber drama set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and its European premiere at the Berlinale, will have its Caribbean premiere at ttff/15.
Also making its Caribbean premiere is The Project of the Century, Carlos Machado Quintela’s black-and-white dramatic study of homosocial malaise in contemporary Cuba. The film was a prizewinner at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it had its world premiere.
Among the Trinidad and Tobago features is Bazodee, a highly anticipated musical drama starring Machel Montano and directed by Todd Kessler. Bazodee will have its world premiere at ttff/15.
In addition to the feature films, a lineup of forty-nine short Caribbean films—twenty-four fiction films and twenty-five documentaries—will screen at ttff/15.
Announcements already made for the ttff/15 are the opening night film (the Caribbean premiere of the Haitian documentary Sweet Micky for President) and the ten classic Caribbean films screening in celebration of the ttff’s tenth anniversary. Still to be announced are the international films screening in the Festival’s Panorama section, and the experimental works of the New Media section.
For the full list of Caribbean films screening at ttff/15, go here.
The films screening in competition are as follows.
BEST FEATURE FILM – FICTION
Murder in Pacot – Raoul Peck: Haiti, France, Norway
Project of the Century – Carlos Machado Quintela: Cuba, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland
Sand Dollars – Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán: Dominican Republic, Mexico, Argentina
Venice – Kiki Álvarez: Cuba, Colombia
BEST FEATURE FILM – DOCUMENTARY
Casa Blanca – Aleksandra Maciuszek: Cuba, Mexico, Poland
Citizens of Nowhere – Nicolas Alexandre Tremblay: Dominican Republic, Haiti
Denis – Gabrielle Blackwood, Jamaica
My Father’s Land – Miquel Galofré and Tyler Johnston: The Bahamas, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago
Vanishing Sail – Alexis Andrews: Antigua
BEST TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO FEATURE FILM – FICTION
Bazodee – Todd Kessler
Pendulum – Michael Rochford
Sally’s Way – Joanne Gail Johnson
Trafficked – Sean Hodgkinson
BEST TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO FEATURE FILM – DOCUMENTARY
My Father’s Land – Miquel Galofré and Tyler Johnston
Our Soul Turned Inside Out – Mary-Ann Brailey
Re-percussions: Our African Odyssey – Kim Johnson
BEST SHORT FILM – FICTION
Alto Vista – Juan Francisco Pardo: Aruba
April 4th 1968 – Myriam Gharbi: Guadeloupe
Aurora – Pascal Fontana: Puerto Rico
The English Teacher – Alán González: Cuba
Giants – Damian Marcano: Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, USA
In the Horizon’s Dreams – Ramón Alfonso Peña: Dominican Republic
Mommy Water – Julien Silloray: Guadeloupe
Ti Coq – Nadia Charlery: Martinique
Twilight – Juan Pablo Daranas Molina: Cuba
A Wall – Javier Ferreiro: Cuba
BEST SHORT FILM – DOCUMENTARY
The Enemy – Aldemar Matías: Cuba
The Farewell – Alejandro Alonso: Cuba
Lorenza, the Radio and You – Roya Esraghi: Cuba
The Miracle Worker – Diana Montero: Cuba
Papa Machete – Jonathan David Kane: Haiti, USA, Barbados
Sixteen – Vashti Harrison: Trinidad and Tobago, USA
BEST TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SHORT FILM – FICTION
Fade to Black – Christopher Guinness
Giants – Damian Marcano
Goldfish – Elenie Chung
BEST TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SHORT FILM – DOCUMENTARY
Riding Bull Cart – Rhonda Chan Soo
Sixteen – Vashti Harrison
The Cuatro Man – Mikhail Gibbings
Paradise Lost – Christopher Laird
Image: a still from Murder in Pacot
Participants announced for RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion at ttff/15
Ten participants from across the Caribbean have been selected for the fifth annual RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion at the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), it was announced today.
An intensive development programme for emerging Caribbean and diaspora filmmakers, the Immersion will take place from 23–25 September, during the ttff/15, which runs from 15–29 September.
“Once again we’re excited to be offering Caribbean filmmakers this important opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the top professionals in the international film industry,” said ttff Programme Director Annabelle Alcazar.
“We’re pleased as always to have a cohort of women and men from across the region, including participants from Dominica and Guyana—countries which will be represented in the Immersion for the very first time.”
The facilitator for the Immersion will be Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Christina Lazaridi.
The participants were chosen after an open call for applications. They will enter the Immersion with a concept for a feature-length fiction film, which they will develop into a full treatment.
The ten selected filmmakers and their projects are:
Luis Ernesto Doñas, Cuba – Havana Essence
Sandra Vivas, Dominica – Shameless
Dulcita Lieggi, Dominican Republic – Crown of Thorns
Kojo McPherson, Guyana – Adero
Bradley Bixler, Puerto Rico – Caribe
Javier Colón, Puerto Rico – Dance Machine
Nicholas Clarke, T&T – The Continued Misadventures of Brian and Sachin
Sonja Dumas, T&T – Angels Live in Tunapuna
Michael Rochford, T&T – Andrea
Ernest Che Rodriguez, T&T – Insurrection
At the end of the Immersion the participants will all be given a chance to pitch their project to a jury. The participant with the best project and pitch, as determined by the jury, will win a cash prize of TT$20,000.
Image: RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion 2014 pitch session winner, Raisa Bonnet of Puerto Rico (right)
Celebrating ten years through mentorship
As the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, among the many things we have to be excited about is the opportunity to share the ttff’s repository of knowledge and skills as mentors in the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism’s Mentoring by the Masters programme. It’s a responsibility we are taking seriously, as we join an esteemed list of masters for 2015. They are:
• Albert Laveau – Developmental Theatre
• Paul Keens-Douglas -Storytelling and Oratory Traditions
• Narcenio Gomez – Wire Bending and Carnival Arts
• Winsford Devine – Songwriting, Music Composition and Arrangement
• trinidad+tobago film festival – Festival Development
According to the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, the ttff was selected because of its reputation for “cutting-edge world cinema and experimental film, training opportunities for local and regional filmmakers, international outreach, and for making such an impact for Caribbean cinema, that last year the ttff was named one of the 25 coolest film festivals in the world by MovieMaker magazine.” The Ministry is also a Supporting Sponsor for the ttff for a third year.
Developed in 2013, the Mentoring by the Masters programme allows participants to be mentored by senior, accomplished artists and cultural workers over a three-month period, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from them to emerging practitioners or apprentices in their respective fields.
The ten mentees who will work with the ttff are all cultural workers and professionals in their fields who are seeking to strengthen existing skills, develop new ones and experience the workings of the Festival from the inside out.
A huge responsibility, but a great way to celebrate turning ten.
Image: Nneka Luke, ttff External Relations Director (far right), with the mentees