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Pioneers of Caribbean Film

Anthony Maharaj

The prolific career of Anthony Maharaj includes international and local productions.

His parents were film distributors responsible for the distribution of Indian films throughout the Caribbean. At age fourteen he started working with them, and later worked with Paramount and MGM distribution, in Guyana and Trinidad, until he formed his own distribution company, AMA Films. AMA has distributed in the Caribbean for Samuel Goldwyn, Lorimar, Morgan Creek and Miramax films.

At age nineteen he worked with Harbance Kumar on the first full-colour feature film to be made in the English-speaking Caribbean, The Right and the Wrong (1970), and The Caribbean Fox (1970). He was also assistant producer and assistant director on Operation Makonaima (1972), directed by Ramdjan Abdoel Rahaman and filmed in Guyana, Suriname, Holland and Trinidad and Tobago.

His international career included working on feature films in Thailand, the Philippines and the USA. He established, owned and managed Cariphil Pictures, a production and distribution company based in Los Angeles and Manila.

He was executive producer, second unit director and co-writer on Final Mission (1984), directed by Cirio Santiago. Maharaj and Santiago collaborated on two more films. Maharaj was executive producer and co-producer with Santiago on Naked Vengeance (1985), directed by Santiago and based on an original story by Maharaj.  He was also producer and second unit director on Future Hunters, also known as Deadly Quest and Spear of Destiny, directed by Santiago and based on Maharaj’s original story.

His first film as a director was The Fighter (1987), also known as The Kick Fighter, based on his original story. Maharaj also directed Return of the Kickfighter (1987), also known as Mission Terminate. In 1988 he directed Crossfire, also known as Not Another Mistake, and Rage, also known as Deathfight, which starred Karen Moncrieff and Chuck Jeffreys.

Maharaj returned to work in Trinidad and introduced Moncrieff and Jeffreys to Trinidad, directing them in Innocent Adultery (1994) and Secrets of the Shell (2000), which he also produced.

Maharaj also played an important role in arranging the investment of the Trinidad and Tobago finance company, CL Financial Ltd, in the Merchant Ivory production Mystic Masseur (2002), filmed on location in Trinidad. Maharaj is listed as the associate producer and Lawrence Duprey, the then Chairman of CL Financial Ltd., as the executive producer on the film. Maharaj was also the executive producer of the Bollywood feature film Dulha Mil Gaya (2009), which starred Shah Rukh Khan and was partly filmed in Tobago. 

Alex de Verteuil

In 1964 the English conglomerate Pearl and Dean opened its Caribbean operations and established locally registered companies in Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas.

Pearl and Dean’s focus was the production of 35mm colour advertisements for local cinemas. In 1974 Pearl and Dean divested its Caribbean operations and David Martin—who was born in England and married to a Trinidadian—took over, making Trinidad the headquarters of operations. He died in 1974 and Alex de Verteuil took over running the company along with his sister, Elizabeth Jean Martin, David Martin’s widow.

By the 1980s the cinema industry was in crisis throughout the Caribbean with the closure of cinemas caused by declining audiences. All of Pearl and Dean’s Caribbean companies closed except for the Trinidad office. But the challenges they faced did not break the spirits of the company’s new owners.

De Verteuil, who has always had a passion for the natural environment, history and culture, diversified operations and started to produce documentaries and commercials, although the company’s main revenue earner was and still is outdoor advertising.

He produced and directed documentary videos for television broadcast on a range of local topics, largely cultural and environmental. They include several award-winning programmes that have had international distribution in the UK, South Africa, Israel and the USA.

Among the works produced by De Verteuil are:

  • Iere, Land of the Hummingbird (BWIA Media Award for Best Documentary)
  • Cry for Buccoo (Images Caraibe Award for best environmental documentary, BWIA Media Awards for Best Investigative report and best-edited documentary)
  • Nariva Must Not Die (Green Screen and Missoula awards)
  • Wild T&T (EMA Greenleaf Award)
  • C’est Quitte
  • Buried Treasure; Jab!: The Blue Devils of Paramin 
  • 70: Remembering a Revolution

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