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The Cinema of Satyajit Ray and Coolie Pink and Green at MovieTowne

Patricia Mohammed speaks after the screening of her film, Coolie Pink and Green



Adam Low speaks after the screening of his film, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray



On September 25 the ttff/09 screened two films as part of our new heritage focus. This year the cinematic spotlight was on India so, of course, we couldn’t let the festival pass without taking a look at the work of Satyajit Ray, arguably India’s best filmmaker. UK documentary filmmaker, Adam Low, was present for the screening of his film, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray. Immediately following Low’s documentary was the experimental short, Coolie Pink and Green, which was directed by Patricia Mohammed, a Trinidadian scholar. After the screening of the two very different films, Low and Mohammed answered a few questions about their experiences making their works.

 


When an audience member commented that Ray looked like a scary person to shoot, Low said that, no, Ray had been extremely obliging throughout the interview process, which took place over a few days, fairly recently after Ray had been ill. Low said that the making of the film had been a happy experience and that what he ultimately took out of it wasn’t the cultural differences between himself and Ray but the lesson that “the distance between us is very small; we’re closer than we think.” Another crucial point that Low brought up at the Q&A; was the importance of a filmmaker finding and then using his or her own visual language. And, as for spoken language, Low firmly believes that it shouldn’t be a barrier to understanding a film as, “the most important moments are felt, not spoken. There’s no need to state things when you can show them.”

Pat, on the other hand, took a slightly different approach to her film, which relied, in part, on a spoken narrative. When asked why she chose to make the film and why she chose to call it what she did, Pat replied: “I wanted to make a film about India but specifically for Trinidad & Tobago . . . As for the name: ‘coolie’ has been used as a derogative word [to describe people of Indian descent] so I wanted to confront the use of the word in order to remove the stigma attached to it. The second part, the ‘pink and green’ I included for aesthetic value.” The film emerged in a different way—through verse—as Pat wanted to “move beyond the style of documentaries. Instead of talking heads I decided to go to something more poetic,” she noted.

The ttff heritage element acknowledges and celebrates the various national cultures that have influenced the Caribbean, and Trinidad and Tobago in particular. In this, our inaugural year of the heritage element of the festival, the focus was on India. Next year we’re thinking Africa but we’ll, of course, confirm that once we’re sure!



Christopher Din Chong, production and editing assistant of Coolie Pink and Green speaks after the screening. To his left is crew member, Michael Mooledhar


Adam Low (centre) speaks with visiting filmmaker, Juan Gélas, and ttff creative director, Emilie Upczak before the screening of his documentary

 


Date: Mon 28 Sep, 2009
Category: ttff news and features

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