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Silent Music: A rewarding documentary

Friday, September 27, 2013
A scene from Silent Music.

The eighth T&T Film Festival runs until October 1. Guardian columnist, BC Pires, has been writing about film from an informed lay perspective since March 1988. He served on the first T& T Film Festival jury in 2009 and wrote the Jury’s Report. BC will pick a Film of the Day for every day of the festival. Today’s choice is:


Silent Music (Melissa Gomez/ 2012/Antigua-Barbuda/USA/ Documentary/ 71 mins/ For all ages) 3pm Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook. 


In this Internet age, heroism has been replaced by celebrity and honesty by disclosure. Where, 100 years ago, you had intelligent discussion on the BBC World Service, you now have Oprah wheeling a barrowful of quivering fat onto set to make a weight loss point. 


The discerning viewer, then, should experience discomfort with Melissa Gomez’ deeply personal documentary, Silent Music. Early in her film, Gomez, a hearing child born to deaf parents (her mother is from Missouri, her father from Antigua, where the film’s action is set), declares her aim is to uncover whatever secrets lie behind the silence in her family. 


Consequently, most of the runtime is taken up with purely personal interests: where does her father go when he disappears from home? Why did he go to England to visit an old aunt instead of coming to her graduation in Canada? These matters, the viewer mutters to himself, are not universal, not even just small-island, but actually small family concerns. It does not help settle the disquiet that the filmmaker herself and the entire leading cast - her parents, sister, brother and boyfriend - are all exceedingly good-looking; Gomez’ elder sister would not look out of place on George Clooney’s arm on a Hollywood red carpet. 


It is a measure of the strength of the film, and of Gomez’ ability, that, as the film progresses, the worry about theme and superficiality fades away almost completely, allowing a story to come up that few of us are familiar with: the near total isolation of the deaf person. Gomez begins the film chasing what she thinks is her story and, in its course, is herself changed by her film. What emerges - down to the updates in subtitles at the very end—is a loving documentary about individual strength and family commitment, far better, on the screen, than the outline might have looked to a film school professor. This is an engaging, rewarding and touching film. And, at least for the men, even if you don’t like the documentary, you can always ogle the daughters.


Best of the rest: 


Beasts of the Southern Wild, 5.30 pm Little Carib Theatre, director present for Q+A after screening 

•The Dream of Lu, 8pm MovieTowne Tobago 

•I Am a Director, 8 pm LC, director present for Q+A after screening 

•Barbado’ed: Scotland’s Sugar Slaves, 3.30 pm MovieTowne Port-of-Spain. 

Films start promptly at advertised times. 


•Starred films have been or will be picked as daily selections 

• Guardian Media Ltd is the official media partner of the T&T Film Festival. 






9 am to 4.30pm
Hyatt Regency, Trinidad
UNESCO Conference


11 am
MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain
The Kid Who Lies: Marité Ugás, 2011, Venezuela / 100 mins / PG



11 am to 4 pm
Medulla Art Gallery, Woodbrook
New Media Regular Programme



MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain
Earth, Water, Woman: Sarah Feinbloom, Alexandra Swati Guild, 2013, TT, USA / 22 mins / GA
The Blue and the Gold: Alex de Verteuil, 2013, TT / 47 mins / GA
Q+A session, director present



3 pm
Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook
Secondary Schools’ Short Film Festival Selection: 2013, TT / 5 mins / GA
The Moon in the Garden: Yemelí Cruz, Adanoe Lima, 2012, Cuba / 19 mins / GA
Silent Music: Melissa Gomez, 2012, Antigua / 70 mins / GA



MovieTowne, Tobago
Public Spaces: The Architecture of Colin Laird: Christopher Laird, 2012, TT / 16 mins / GA
No Bois Man No Fraid: Christopher Laird, 2013, TT / 72 mins / GA



MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain
Barbado’ed: Scotland’s Sugar Slaves: Lydia Conway, Paul Arnott and Shane Brennan, 2009, United Kingdom / 48 mins / GA
The Wind that Blows: Thomas Weston, 2013, USA, St. Vincent and the Grenadines / 60 mins/ GA
Q+A session, director present




Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook



MovieTowne, Tobago
Three Cards: Michael James, 2011, Guyana / 17 mins / PG
Kingston Paradise: Mary Wells, 2013, Jamaica / 82 mins / 16+



MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain
Violeta Went to Heaven: Andrés Wood, 2011, Chile / 110′ / 16+
Q+A session, director present



Medulla Art Gallery, Woodbrook
Closing New Media performance with Rodell Warner



Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook
I Am a Director: Javier Colón, 2012, Colombia / 87 mins / PG13
Q+A session, director present


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