On Wednesday last, MovieTowne Cinema in Port of Spain held the world premiere of the film Bazodee with all of the trimmings you’re likely to find at the premiere of a new film: celebrities, gala reception, couture, cocktails and so on.
Appearing on the red carpet, of course, were the stars of the film: India’s Kabir Bedi; England’s Natalie Perera, of Sri Lankan heritage; Trinidad and Tobago’s Valmike Rampersaud, now based in the UK and T&T Soca King Machel Montano, making his acting debut in a feature-length film. According to reports Montano was also scheduled to perform at the after party.
Bazodee was only one of over 80 films on the list for screening at the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which opened on September 15 and runs until September 29. Several of the films are made in Trinidad and others are made by Trinidadians elsewhere in the world. But the festival is truly international with entries from places like Aruba, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Cuba, the Netherlands and the USA among other places.
A good mix of documentaries and fiction, the films range from shorts to full length features and while the majority were completed this year, some are older with at least one dating back to 1976.
Unfortunately, there is not a single title out of Guyana or a single film made by a Guyanese—or or if there is, it’s just not visible on the list—which is a shame because quite a few good films have been made here and by Guyanese elsewhere.
Looking at the list makes one want to have the experience of attending the festival or at least being able to view some of what is on offer, without of course having to travel to Trinidad to do so.
Now that cinemas have returned to Guyana, maybe this can be explored. It would be great to have a film festival, but it’s not absolutely necessary. What is needed is for the space to be provided – meaning a theatre. It’s okay to view films at other venues but movie theatre are purpose built for film viewing; it’s where you get the best effect.
It would also mean that the situation as regards paying for the right to view these films as against purchasing would have to be sorted out. There would need to be a price set for tickets that is on par with what is paid for foreign films.The owners, which would be the studios or producers of the films would need to be consulted on and integrally involved in the plans for their distribution. But once the will is there, these things can all be worked out so as to be mutually beneficial.
The beauty of getting this done would mean that Guyanese would actually be able to go to the theatre and view with pride films that have been made right here or by Guyanese in the Diaspora.
The old films and the new ones should have equal space, allowing our people to see that the skills and talent they so admire in Hollywood and Bollywood reside right here as well.
It would also be a huge boost the Guyana’s budding film industry, giving tentative producers, directors et al a reason to overcome any and all difficulties and put their creativity to work.
It does not have to be an all-time undertaking either. The cinema moguls could surely be persuaded to make the space available once a year for a few days or at least a week.
There has been similar advocacy made for local music to receive airplay and the response to this has been mostly lip service. We sincerely hope that film does not suffer the same fate. It is high time we started appreciating what we have, owning it and identifying with it.