US writer and theatre critic Hilton Als, who will be programming four nights of screenings at StudioFilmClub as part of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09
Filmmaking isn’t just about directors, though some of them might like to think so. Yes, the director is often the sine qua non of a film, especially in independent, auteur-driven cinema. But that doesn’t mean that the other people involved in making a film are inconsequential, or interchangeable. Even if a film is a director’s personal vision, you still need other people to help bring that vision to life.
One such person is the cinematographer. The cinematographer–the director of photography, properly speaking–is responsible for a film’s look, its visual style. And since film is a visual medium, that makes the cinematographer important; sometimes, almost as important as the director. In a film like Steve McQueen’s Hunger, one of the narrative features being screened at the Festival, the cinematography is key; the austere look of the film, with its bleached-out colours, complements and reinforces the stark subject matter. So it’s no surprise we’re thrilled that the cinematographer of Hunger, Sean Bobbitt, will be attending the Festival. Not only will he be here for the film’s screening, but he will also be conducting a workshop on the art of cinematography. (And if you’re interested in cinematography, I suggest you sign up for the workshop now, before all the places are gone.)
Another person who’s key to cinema, though not necessarily to the filmmaking process itself, is the critic. Now I know there are people who will quibble with this, and say that critics aren’t really important, that they’re just failed artists or know-nothings who only like to bad-talk everything. These people, however, are wrong, and I don’t just say that because a critic myself. Robust critical discourse is key in the arts, in any culture–but that’s another post entirely. Suffice it to say that the critic matters. And we’ve got one of the best, Hilton Als of the New Yorker, coming to the Festival to programme the four nights of screenings at StudioFilmClub. The films Als has chosen to screen are largely experimental, challenging the conventions of traditional filmmaking. They should prove thought-provoking, conversation-inspiring viewing–come along to StudioFilmClub to see them and you may even find yourself in a conversation with Hilton Als.
Of course, you’ve got to have actors to portray the various roles in films (or in the case of biographical films, subjects to make films about). Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob’s documentary Carmen and Geoffrey is the story of New York-based dancers Carmen de Lavallade and her husband, Trinidad-born Geoffrey Holder. I described Holder in a previous post as larger than life; a striking six foot six, with a booming voice, this dancer-painter-actor is an artistic renaissance man if there ever was one. And he’ll be here, this renowned son of the soil, for a screening of Carmen and Geoffrey which takes place before the awards ceremony and reception that closes the Film Festival on September 29.
We hope you’ll be coming to the Festival too, because ultimately, the members of the audience are our most important guests. Indeed, without people to watch them, there wouldn’t be any films at all.