In choosing movies to screen at the gala opening of this year's Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, the organisers did well. The films, Rain and Queen of the Brands, represented two sides of the spectrum of Caribbean cinema, reflecting the what is positive in the industry and offering a glimpse of the future. Rain, directed by Bahamian film-maker Maria Govan, is a film that tells the story of a young Caribbean girl who must try to rise above family troubles and environmental limitations to create a viable future. It's a quiet movie, with a familiar storyline. But it is unapologetically Caribbean, with images and themes that can be universally understood across the region and beyond.
Rain is a Caribbean teenager who must leave behind her rural seaside home when her grandmother dies, to live in the dark, rough urban world of her estranged mother. She has strong support around her, despite the challenges and deprivations she faces. But ultimately, she must look within to find her own gifts and her own way forward. The film is credible, raw and real, with strong acting performances and good pacing and direction. Its heartwarming tale went down well with the audience at the MovieTowne screening, even as it was evident that Rain is somewhat above the general standard of local films. Queen of the Brands was selected from among this year's entries by students of the Film Programme of the University of the West Indies in St Augustine.
Written and directed by Thomas Jemmerson, the five-minute short is a trippy treatment of the topic of consumerism. It presents a young woman who is obsessed with obtaining the latest "brands," as prescribed by pop culture and media. A pair of trendy shades reveal to her more than she bargained for. The film employs the use of many frames per second in making its point, using the technique to alter time, space and reality. The movie's look and language reflect youth culture on its own terms. It points to a future, in terms of T&T and Caribbean films, that is open to experimentation and willing to step away from established norms in creating its own voice. The festival will screen more than 60 Caribbean diaspora films, including some 30 local films. It offers a real treat for cinema buffs and an opportunity we rarely have: the chance to see ourselves.
Further screenings of Rain:
September 26 - 1 pm at MovieTowne
September 29 - 8 pm at MovieTowne Tobago
Further screenings of Queen of the Brands:
September 25 - UWI Carmody Road
September 26 - at MovieTowne
September 29 - at MovieTowne Tobago
For information on the festival, films and film-makers, check the TTFF Web site at