The filmmakers’ Q&A: Yao Ramesar

Robert Yao Ramesar of Trinidad and Tobago, director of Sistagod II

Robert Yao Ramesar is a Trinidad and Tobago filmmaker. His first feature film, Sistagod, screened at the trinidad+tobago film festival in 2006. This year his Festival entry is Sistagod II, which makes its world premiere tomorrow night at the Festival at MovieTowne, at 8.00pm.

What was the first film you remember seeing?

Born Free. When the Emperor Valley Zoo was looking for a home for two lion cubs, I desperately wanted to raise them, like in the movie. My mother taught me my first lesson about the difference between film and real life.

What was the most recent film you saw?

I just watched Talk to Me by my friend Kasi Lemmons, starring Don Cheadle. Kasi’s direction is pitch-perfect in this one.

If a Martian came to earth and wanted to see a film, what film would you recommend?

I’d recommend anything by [Stanley] Kubrick, David Lynch or Tim Burton. The Martians might think twice about invading, sticking around or even befriending us.

Which filmmaker do you most admire?

The Ethiopian director Haile Gerima was my mentor and taught me filmmaking. It’s great to open a book on the history of cinema and spot him on page 13 or see him picking up two of the major awards at the last Venice Film Festival. He’s bad and still kicking ass.

What’s the best piece of filmmaking advice you ever received?

“Make your films.” — Haile Gerima

Have you ever walked out of a film screening?

Occasionally. I more sleep in the cinema. A lot of the time when I travel to festivals, I’m exhausted from making and moving my latest film and can’t stay awake. I’ve slept through some really great movies. The loud snoring is the worst though.

What film have you seen more than any other?

Unfortunately, Sistagod II. It’s reached a point where viewing it is oppressive and I have no objective idea of how it looks or sounds.

A viable Caribbean film industry: possible, or wishful thinking?

The Caribbean film industry and culture is–right now. There is no time like the
present. The future is now.

What advantage does filmmaking have over other art forms?

Film is a renaissance art. It incorporates many arts and can have its own autonomy.

Can cinema change the world?

Cinema can, has and will continue to change the world.

Date: Mon 21 Sep, 2009
Category: ttff news and features

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