The gala opening

A view of the crowd at the cocktail reception at MovieTowne for the opening of the trinidad+tobago film festival/09

The months of preparation are at an end, and the moment we’ve been anticipating is finally here. Last evening, the fourth annual trinidad+tobago film festival kicked off with a cocktail reception, the opening films and an after party.

The reception and screening of the opening films took place at MovieTowne in Port of Spain, the home of the Film Festival since its inception. Filmmakers, artists, members of the media, state officials, members of the diplomatic service and others turned out in their hundreds for the gala event. After drinks and hors d’oeuvres, the guests made their way into the theatre where Bruce Paddington, Festival Director, Rhea Yawching of presenting sponsors Flow, Ralph Maraj of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (and the star of Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest feature film), Mariano Browne, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Derek Chin, owner of MovieTowne, all made speeches. (Minister Brown also presented flowers to directors Maria Govan and Thomas Jemmerson.)

Once the speeches were at an end it was time for the films. Maria Govan’s feature, Rain, out of the Bahamas, made its T&T; premiere, followed by local filmmaker (and student at the UWI Film Programme) Thomas Jemmerson’s short Queen of the Brands. (The screenings weren’t actually meant to be in that order–one unfortunate consequence of which was that many people left the theatre before the short was shown).

Watching Rain, Maria Govan’s debut film, a second time, and for the first time on the big screen, I must admit to seeing more of its shortcomings than I did the first time around. But its faults aside–and Govan spoke to some of these faults herself in the Q&A; I did with herRain remains a fine achievement, a powerful realist Caribbean drama, with some outstanding performances from its main actors. And I really liked Thomas Jemmerson’s style in Queen of the Brands. Here is a young Trini filmmaker bursting with talent and ideas; a name to look out for.

Once the films were over, we all trooped out of MovieTowne and made our way across to Zen nightclub where we drank and ate some more, and limed and danced till the wee hours. (Well, not all of us. Some of us had to cut short our evening to get a decent night’s rest to be up early to write about last night’s events.)

So we’ve opened with a shebang, and can now get on to the real business of the Film Festival–watching films. And there are a lot of them to watch, so there’s not a moment to lose….

Bruce Paddington being interviewed by Mairoon Ali of Gayelle TV

Peter Ray Blood, Features Editor of the Trinidad Guardian, and Judy Raymond, Editor of Caribbean Beat magazine

Musician Isaac Blackman, whose hit song “To the Ceiling” is featured on the soundtrack of Rain

Mariano Browne

Ralph Maraj

The fabulous Emilie Upczak, the T&T; Film Festival’s Creative Director

Date: Tue 15 Sep, 2009
Category: ttff news and features

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