The State of Caribbean Film: Trinidad and Tobago

Cannes, France – It is safe to say that Trinidad and Tobago is leading the charge for the development of a lucrative film industry in the Caribbean Region. Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island Republic, lead for mainly two reasons: One? The best and most imaginative films have come from under T&T over the last five years. Two? As a nation, they have done more to unite the Region under one Caribbean Film banner. We have talked about this idea of a “Cariwood” on our television show The Cinemas.

#Cariwood then became a bit catchphrase that Tempo Networks (a regional television network televising our show) also adopted. Cariwood is this idea of a Caribbean Film Industry. And though it mostly exists it in theory at this point (as the Region still has a ways to go), if the race to Cariwood is on, it is looking like Trinidad and Tobago will cross the finish line to her first.

As for my first point on T&T films, there are presently two of them here at the Marche Du Cinema (the non competition marketing arm of Cannes). The first I had the pleasure of screening was a film called “The Cutlass,” directed by Trinidadian filmmaker Darisha Beresford (in an impressive feature film debut) and written by Teneille Newallo, also from Trinidad. The Cutlass is a beautiful yet harrowing tale of paradise lost (as ‘paradise lost’ is an all connecting theme and aesthetic uniting Caribbean Cinema I am finding more and more). Inspired by true events, the story centers a young woman named Joanna (played by German born and Tobago raised Lisa-bel Hirschman) who is kidnapped and whisked off into the tropical rain forest of Trinidad by a sociopath named Al (played hauntingly good by Arnold Goindhan). Al charts the rain forest leading Joanna, his prey, with a gun in one hand and a “cutlass” (or machete) in the next. His initial intentions are clear; he’s holding Joanna for ransom. He’s poor and just wants the money her family can afford cough up.

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