Jason Solomons is a respected film critic on BBC News, Sky News and BBC Radio.
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Monkey Polo makes the big screen
After three decades of appearances in the kids magazine of the Sunday Guardian, Monkey Polo comes to life on the big screen at MovieTowne in Port-of-Spain, among other films in the T&T Film Festival. The festival runs until October 2, and Monkey Polo, having premiered yesterday morning, will run again on September 30, at 11 am.
Monkey Polo, the seemingly lovable scoundrel, who defends those in trouble with his unique antics and cunning mind, is one of the well known comic heroes created by Al Ramsawack; folklorist, artist and author of hundreds of children’s stories appearing in the local Guardian Kids of the Sunday Guardian newspaper, for the past three decades.
With Ramsawack’s son, Stanley Ramsawack’s persuasion and the technical skills of the animators of Full Circle Animation Studios of St Joseph, the drawings and story of this first animated film was made possible. The director, Camille Selvon Abraham, was excited to execute the project, as “one of Al Ramsawack’s fans from a little girl who enjoyed his stories.” The moral of Monkey Polo is that when you feel you can outsmart someone, there’s always someone who’s smarter than you.
Stanley looked back to the day when he was a little boy and his father made the first drawing of Monkey Polo. He loved it and he nestled a dream that one day he would like to see Monkey Polo animated on TV. Today he has a bigger dream of Monkey Polo and Sly Mongoose sharing the big screen with Walt Disney Productions. And locally, he is thinking of designing Monkey Polo and Sly Mongoose costumes as mascots for our T&T cricket team, complete with the national flag.
About Al Ramsawack
Al Ramsawack, a director of the T&T Film Company, hails from the southern village of Rousillac. The father of two children, Stanley and Annmarie Samsundar, he has been writing for the past four decades with the T&T Guardian. His drawings and stories have become must-read features in the newspapers, especially for children and the young at heart.
After all these years, a little boy still exists in Ramsawack: “From a child, I loved drawing. Living close to the forest, I had a fascination with the animals I saw there, like the monkey, snake, mongoose, alligator, agouti, manicou. “As a little boy growing up in Sangre Grande, there was a neighbour who had a monkey tied to a tree. I always wondered what the monkey would look like, especially wearing a polo shirt.”
Ramsawack did his first illustrated drawings in a cartoon style in the ’70s. He attended Sangre Grande RC School and Presentation College, San Fernando, excelling in art. Upon leaving school Ramsawack worked as an art teacher at San Fernando Government Secondary School.
His children are very supportive of his work, moreso in his latest venture, making animated film. Ramsawack is the executive producer of his work, while Samsundar is into technical production, In fact, her documentary—Cedros Hosay—was scheduled for screening at the T&T Film Festival yesterday. Ramsawack was married for 47 years, until the passing of his wife six years ago. Asked about delving into writing comic books, he expressed reluctance, citing the unfeasibility of such a step locally.