Some of the cast and crew of The Ghost of Hing King Estate. From left: actor Michael Cherrie, writer/co-producer Francis Escayg, co-producer (and our festival programming director) Annabelle Alcazar, actor Wendell Manwarren, actress Teri Bovell, and actress Cecelia Salazar
Someone commented recently that it seems a shame that the trinidad+tobago film festival/09 isn’t showing more films from T&T.; We second that emotion but point to the fact that we are a yearly festival and there aren’t that many local feature films produced each year (and also that our festival aims to show films of and by not just our country, but the region and the Diaspora). We are working steadily to support a fledgling T&T; film industry and to help raise standards of local film and to provide a platform for viewing those films once they are made.
Last night was the first festival screening of director Horace Ové‘s film, The Ghost of Hing King Estate (preceded by the local short film, Mistaken). Judging by the fact that the screening was sold out, we suspect that people in T&T; would like to see a few more local films as well. A drama based on a true story, The Ghost of Hing King Estate tells of mysterious deaths on a local estate, and was shot entirely on location in Trinidad & Tobago, using a local crew and actors.
After the screening, some of the film’s cast and crew answered a few questions. The first was of the challenges that were faced during the making of the film. Writer and Co-Producer Francis Escayg spoke of the difficulty of shooting for a mere five weeks during the rainy season. There were challenges getting the needed equipment, he noted, and also that they “needed to make pieces of art out of what they were given or not given by the corporate powers that be.” He also spoke of what a pleasure it was to work with seasoned director, Horace Ové, as did actor Michael Cherrie.
Wendell Manwarren, of local rapso group, 3Canal, had one of the starring roles in the film and said that his biggest challenge was waking up at 3 am so he could be on set at 4 to start shooting. For actress Teri Bovell who played Cetty, the biggest challenge was getting over her nerves, as it was her “first time acting in anything.” (She received a hearty round of applause after stating this.) On the other hand, veteran stage actress, Cecilia Salazar pointed to the fact that shooting out of sequence really threw her off, as, although she has done numerous plays, Hing King was her first movie. She speaks of arriving on set one day early in the shooting and being told that her death scene would be shot that day, as it was raining and, therefore, the perfect weather for that bit of drama. “I died before I shot anything else,” she said.
Co-producer Annabelle Alcazar thanked the “fantastic young crew” who worked on the movie, including Oliver Milne, who, to date, has had a couple short films in the festival.
One question from the audience cleared up some confusion: the movie is set in 2006 but based on a true story. How is it, the questioner wondered, that he had never heard of these events, which seemed as though they would have been plastered all over the news. As it turns out, the events happened in 1971, but the decision was made to set the movie in this decade, as it is too expensive, not to mention difficult, to shoot period pieces in T&T.;
Francis Escayg was asked why the movie hasn’t been showed on local television. “We had a beautiful shoot and post-production,” he said. “And then the pain stepped in afterwards.” He is still waiting to hear back from the distribution powers that be.
The Ghost of Hing King Estate and the short film, Mistaken, will be screened again at MovieTowne Tobago on Sunday 27 September at 8.00 pm.
Mas Man director, Dalton Narine, has a word with actor Wendell Manwarren after the screening
Wendell Manwarren, Annabelle Alcazar, and Cecilia Salazar cozy up to the camera