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Philippe Niang’s ‘Toussaint L’Ouverture’ Wins Big At 2012 Trinidad+Tobago Film Fest (List Of Winners)

Philippe Niang's 'Toussaint L’Ouverture' Wins Big At 2012 Trinidad+Tobago Film Fest (List Of Winners)

On Sunday, September 30, the 2012 Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival held its annual gala awards ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.

Over TT$170,000 (or about $26,000) in cash and other prizes were handed out to films and filmmakers, with Philippe Niang’s Toussaint L’Ouverture, the night’s big winner, taking home the People’s Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature, as well as the jury prize for Best Actor in a Caribbean Film, Jimmy Jean-Louis, who was on hand to collect his prize.

Sergio Ramírez’s Distance, described as “a touching, understated drama about an elderly farmer searching for his kidnapped daughter in the aftermath of the Guatemalan civil war,” won the jury award for Best Narrative Feature.

Best Documentary Feature went to the Menelik Shabazz’s musical documentary The Story of Lover’s Rock; Best Short went to Ida Does for Peace: Memories of Anton de Kom, a portrait of the Surinamese writer and anti-colonial activist.

The 2012 trinidad+tobago film festival, which officially ended yesterday, October 2, was the largest edition of the Festival to date, with over 120 films screened – more than half being T&T productions.

The full list of winners follows below, courtesy of the festival. Congrats to them all!

The gala awards ceremony of the ttff/12 took place earlier this evening at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain. Here is a full list of the winners.

Jury Awards: Best Films

Best Narrative Feature

Distance, directed by Sergio Ramirez

Best Documentary Feature

The Story of Lover’s Rock, directed by Menelik Shabazz

Best Short

Peace: Memories of Anton de Kom, directed by Ida Does

Best Caribbean Film by an International Filmmaker

The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, directed by Christy Garland

Special mentions in the best film category:

Best Narrative Feature

Choco, directed by Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza

Best Documentary Feature

Broken Stones, directed by Guetty Felin

Best Short

Awa Brak, directed by Juan Francisco Pardo

Jury Awards: Best Local Films

Best Local Feature

Inward Hunger, directed by Mariel Brown

Best Local Short

Where the Sun Sets, directed by Ryan Latchmansingh

Jury Awards: Acting

Best Actor in a Caribbean Film

Jimmy Jean-Louis, Toussaint L’Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang

Best Actor in a Local Film

Christopher Chin Choy, Where the Sun Sets, directed by Ryan Latchmansingh

Best Actress in a Local Film

Terri Lyons, No Soca, No Life, directed by Kevin Adams

People’s Choice Awards

People’s Choice Award: Narrative Feature

Toussaint L’Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang

People’s Choice Award: Documentary Feature

La Gaita, directed by Janine Fung

People’s Choice Award: Best Short

Buck: The Man Spirit, directed by Steven Taylor

Other Awards

Film in Development Award

Cutlass, Deresha Beresford & Teneille Newallo

WorldView/Tribeca Film Film Institute Pitch Awards

Ryan Khan

Joaquin Ruano

Natalie Wei

RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion Pitch Award

Michelle Serieux

Film that Best Epitomises Cultural Diversity

Stone Street, directed by Elspeth Kydd

Film Criticism Award

Barbara Jenkins, “Three’s a Crowd”, review of Una Noche, directed by Lucy Mulloy

Film Criticism Special Mentions

Dainia Wright, Renelle White

Best Student, University of the West Indies Film Programme

Dinesh Maharaj

AfroPop/National Black Programming Consortium Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award

Mandisa Pantin

50-Second Film Competition

M Jay Gonzalez

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OMG! What a STUPID movie.

Toussaint is portrayed here as a saintly Uncle Tom-like black, who saves the world from the irrational and animalistic natured masses that made up the Saint Domingue slave population.
I went into this movie expecting to see a historically plausible, if not correct, account of the revolution and Toussaint's life. I expected Niang's effort to be constrained somewhat by his budget, which (so I thought) would probably show itself through an absence of epic scenes such as large battles. This I did not mind. Great stories have been told with little means.

Perhaps I should add, that I had been really, really, really looking forward to a movie on Toussaint. My expectations (or better: my hopes) were too high. Hence the big disappointment.

My first glimpse of the French movie was through this blog, S&A, when us readers were invited to view a non-subtitled excerpt. Not knowing French, I watched the excerpt with growing suspicion. I could tell just from the sequencing of images that the story had gone awry…

Then, yesterday, I finally pushed in the full DVD, and set myself to watch the full 3 hours, with subtitles this time.

……. OM-effing-G…..!!!!
This film is SO bad.

Forget the budgetary forced omission of epic, sprawling battles . That is the least of this movie's problems. What stood out for me the most were:
– obvious historical inaccuracies, such as Toussaint's father dying when Toussaint was still a kid (the inclusion of this fantasied incident, and references to it later in the film, makes you wonder what else Niang has been sucking from his thumb)
– complete absence of dramatic drive and tension
– absence of dramatic purpose: slavery and its conditions take a back seat – no reason is given for the uprising of slaves (slavery is portrayed only scantily; the enslaved seem well-nourished, well-dressed (except for a few folks in ragged outfits and bushy hair), healthy and scar-free; not one whipping occurs; the work on plantations seems to be a breeze, so easy and relaxed)
– abstract characterizations: people are either good or bad, smart or stupid, etc.
– wooden performances (Jimmy Jean-Louis was good, but the script gives him very little to work with)
– incredibly simplistic portrayal of racial relationships in a 18th century Caribbean slave colony
– the culture of the blacks, including their religious basis for revolt, is reduced to mindless/animalistic dance parties
– overtly didactic narrative: constant 'telling' through unnatural/stage-like dialogue (it feels like watching an underfunded play in an obscure community center)

This is from the top of my head.
I could go on, but I recommend everyone to see the movie for themselves. Yes, despite my disliking, I encourage people to see it. Or make an attempt to it (I actually stopped watching after 1 hour, I could not stomach it anymore)

I can't believe this film has won awards. Are black people really that hungry for resistance-movies that they'll consume even crap like this?


Wow, another movie that probably will not be shown in America. I would LOVE to see this since it is about a great man and one of my heroes. But with America's history, it most likely will not be shown here.

Adam Scott Thompson

A film like this should SWEEP the Caribbean. lol

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