I ended my last blog post by saying that it was time for the real business of the Film Festival, the film-watching, to begin. I begin this post, however, not by discussing a film screening, but a lecture. This morning, Surinamese filmmaker Ida Does, director of the moving biographical documentary Trefossa, got a chance to interact with students of the Film Programme at the University of the West Indies at St Augustine.
Ida met with second-year students of the BA in Film Programme, showing her film and discussing with them the art of documentary filmmaking. Among the issues that came up was the importance of access by filmmakers to archive material. In Ida’s case, for her film about the late Surinamese poet Trefossa (Henri de Ziel), much film material from Suriname’s history was available to her from archives in the Netherlands. The UWI students spoke of the lack of similar material here in Trinidad and Tobago, and in cases where the material did exist, the difficulty in getting access. This led to a discussion about the need for filmmakers in such situations to become creative and the different methods documentarians can employ to achieve their goals.
Other issues discussed included effective ways to conduct documentary interviews, and the importance of having a crew–in particular a cinematographer–who not only knows completely what he or she is doing but is also sympathetic towards your vision.
After the talk about Trefossa in the morning, in the afternoon was the screening of Trefossa at MovieTowne. Among the audience were persons from the Dutch embassy, and at least one person from Suriname, who spoke movingly about how this intimate portrait of the man who popularised Suriname’s nation-language (Sranan) and who helped inspire a generation to seek srefidensi (the Sranan word for independence, coined by Trefossa), had touched her. It was then left to Film Festival Director Bruce Paddington to note that were it not for the Festival, we here in T&T; would perhaps never have heard about Trefossa and his exploits.
Trefossa screens again at the TTFF on the 27th at 1pm at MovieTowne.