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Sensei Redemption film delivers quality script

Published: 
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The ninth T&T Film Festival runs from September 16 to 30. Guardian columnist BC Pires served on the first TTFF jury in 2009 and wrote the jury’s report. BC will pick a Film of the Day for every day of the festival. Non-linear, essentially visual or special-interest films not intended for the Vin Diesel crowd will be designated as “art films.” Films may be chosen ahead of other, perhaps “better,” films if the director (or other filmmaker) is present for a Q&A session after the screening. 

Today’s choice is: Sensei Redemption (German Gruber/2013/ Curacao (Netherlands Antilles)/Action-Crime-Drama-Kung Fu Thriller/110 mins/Papiamento with English subtitles/For ages 18+) 6 pm University of the West Indies, St Augustine. 

Sensei Redemption is on this year’s dramatic feature jury prize shortlist but it should also be long and closely studied by every Trini wannabe filmmaker—and some of our supposedly accomplished ones, too. Beautifully and lovingly shot on location in Curacao, by a Caracas-born director obviously newly domiciled, Sensei Redemption is a master class in proper filmmaking without a Hollywood budget. 

From the swift, complete telling of the backstory before the titles are finished to the choreographed double kata at sunset that closes an almost seamless film, nearly every moment teaches a lesson to those aware—or humble—enough to learn; such as, how you can make one character (the hero) appear to have aged by allowing his hair to grow out, and another (the villain) to have done the same thing by shaving his head. There are great rewards for the viewer for the filmmaker paying attention to fine detail. 

The locations are painstakingly chosen, the perhaps non-professional actors masterfully directed and the script is close to flawless, even with what might have been mangled, in less capable hands, into a hugely pretentious voiceover of martial arts philosophy. 

The fight scenes—crucial to the success of a kung fu movie—are done cinéma vérité style, eschewing wires and air stunts altogether, and work wonderfully for that realism, with a genuine coup de grace coming in the last battle sequence. Add a score (by Herman Witkam) that, at its best moments, could have been written by Hans Zimmer and you have a very high benchmark which all future Caribbean martial arts films—and all the others—could do well to emulate. 

Best of the rest: The Cutlass (short) 10.30 am MovieTowne Port-of-Spain; Manakaman (art) 1.30 pm, Cubes, 3.30 pm, Behaviour, 5.30 pm Little Carib Theatre, PoS; * Pelo Malo, 5.30 pm MovieTowne, Tobago. 

• Films start promptly at advertised times. • Starred* films have been or will be picked as daily selections. • Guardian Media Ltd is an official partner of the T&T Film Festival.

Today’s Schedule at the Film Festival

MovieTowne, PoS 
10.30 am: • Hidden Avenue: Daniel Ahye, 2014, T&T / Narrative Short / 4 mins / English / PG13
• Last Night: Ayesha Jordan, 2014, T&T / Narrative Short / 6 mins / English / GA
• How Many Times?: Ryan Khan, 2014, T&T / Narrative Short / 19 mins / English / 14+
• The Cutlass: Darisha Beresford, 2013, T&T / Narrative Short / 11 mins / English / 14+
• Cleaning House: Toni Blackford, 2013, Jamaica / Narrative Short / 14 mins / English / 14+
• Flying the Coup: Ryan Lee, 2014, T&T / Narrative Short / 24 mins / English / PG13. 
1 pm: • Full Circle: Maria Govan, 2014, Bahamas / Narrative Short / 17 mins / English / 14+
• Difret: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, 2014, Ethiopia / Narrative feature / 99 mins / Amharic, English subtitles / 14+ 
3.30 pm: • The Cloud: Marcel Beltrán, 2013, Cuba / Narrative Short / 20 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / PG
• Dust: Julio Hernández Cordón, 2012, Guatemala / Narrative feature / 80 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / 16+ 
6 pm: • Belle: Amma Asante, 2013, UK / Narrative feature / 105 mins / English / PG / View Trailer
8.30 pm: • The Liberator: Alberto Arvelo, 2013, Venezuela, Spain / Narrative feature / 119 mins / Spanish, French, English, English subtitles / 14+ 

The Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook 
1.30 pm: • Dark Light: Per Hüttner, 2013, T&T / Narrative Short / 7 mins / English / PG • Manakamana: Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, 2013, USA, Nepal / Documentary feature / 120 mins / Nepali, English, English subtitles / GA 
3.30 pm: • Cubes: Ryan Lee, 2013, T&T / Narrative Short / 10 mins / English / GA • A Story About Wendy 2: Sean Hodgkinson, 2014, T&T / Narrative / 63 mins / English / PG 
5.30 pm: Behaviour: Ernesto Daranas Serrano, 2014, Cuba / Narrative / 100 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / 14+ 
8 pm: • This Island: Cristian Carretero, 2014, Puerto Rico / Narrative Short / 12 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / 16+
The Way He Looks: Daniel Ribeiro, 2014, Brazil / Narrative feature / 96 mins / Portuguese, English subtitles / 14+ 

MovieTowne Tobago 
5.30 pm: • Old Moon: Raisa Bonnet, 2013, Puerto Rico / Narrative Short / 11 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / PG13
Pelo Malo: Mariana Rondón, 2013, Venezuela / Narrative feature / 93 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / 16+
8 pm: • Art Connect: Liverpool: Wendell Mc Shine, 2012, UK,T&T / Documentary Short / 6 mins / English / GA
• Art Connect: Miquel Galofré, 2014, T&T / Documentary / 74 mins / English / GA / View Trailer

UWI 
10 am: • The World of Goopi and Bagha: Shilpa Ranade, 2013, India / Animated feature / 78 mins / Hindi, English subtitles / GA  
Noon: • Cows Wearing Glasses: Alex Santiago Pérez, 2014, Puerto Rico / Narrative / 93 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / PG 
2 pm: • The Forgotten Kingdom: Andrew Mudge, 2012, Lesotho, South Africa, USA / Narrative feature / 96 mins / Tsotsitaal, Sesotho, English subtitles / PG13 
4 pm: Pelo Malo: Mariana Rondón, 2013, Venezuela / Narrative feature / 93 mins / Spanish, English subtitles / 16+ 
6 pm: Sensei Redemption: German Gruber, 2014, Curaçao / Narrative / 119 mins / Papiamentu, English subtitles / 16+ 

Medulla Art Gallery, Woodbrook
Noon to 6 pm • New Media Exhibition