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ttff/11 – Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival Begins Tomorrow (9/21-10/4)

ttff/11 - Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival Begins Tomorrow (9/21-10/4)

The Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival 2011 begins tomorrow September 21st and runs through October 4th. There are a few familiar films previously covered on S&A including Fire In Babylon, Chico and Rita (which opens the festival), Life, Above All, W.A.R. Stories: Walter Anthony Rodney, and Sons of Cuba, as well as other great looking films.

Lifted from their website, the history and highlights of the Festival goes as follows:

As the largest event of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, [the Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival] continues to evolve and expand in celebrating expression and empowerment through film. The Festival screens the best films from from Trinidad+Tobago and the Caribbean, the Caribbean Diaspora, and Latin American countries in the Caribbean Basin. The tiff also seeks to facilitate the growth of the Caribbean film industry by hosting workshops, panel discussions, seminars, conferences and networking opportunities.

Countries represented Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Brazil, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States, the US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
Heritage and special focus In addition to screening Caribbean, Diaspora and Latin American films, the TTFF also has heritage and special focus initiatives. These have included the screening of films from India, various African countries, Mexico and Brazil.

Among the many anticipated films is Ghett’a Life, an urban drama and the new feature by Jamaica’s Chris Browne, writer and director of the popular Third World Cop. Another anticipated film from Jamaica is the politically charged Better Mus’ Come, the debut feature by Storm Saulter.

A number of top-totch films from or about Cuba are also screening at the ttff/11. One is the searing Boleto al paraíso, by veteran filmmaker Gerardo Chijona, about a group of young people trying to navigate the “Special Period” of deprivation in the early 1990s. Another is Sons of Cuba, a documentary by British director Andrew Lang that goes inside the elite Havana Boxing Academy.

Documentaries from Trinidad and Tobago are also in the line-up. ‘70: Remembering a Revolution, directed by Alex de Verteuil and Elizabeth Topp, tells the story of the Black Power disturbances of 1970, while Calypso Rose: The Lioness of the Jungle is a moving portrait of the pioneering calypsonian, directed by Pascale Obolo.

Other key films screening at the ttff/11 include film festival-circuit favourite Jean Gentil, written and directed by Laura Guzmán of the Dominican Republic and Israel Cárdenas of Mexico, and Crab Trap, by Colombian filmmaker Oscar Ruiz Navia. Festival of Lights, a drama and the debut film of Guyanese-American writer and director Shundell Prasad, will also be screened.

There have been some recent updates to the schedule, which you can find in the full festival program HERE or you can download the entire Festival Guide right HERE (under the main picture where it says ‘click here to download’)

The festival gives three cash prizes for the best films as decided on by the TTFF audience, as well as five jury awards. Every year the jury is made up of five local, regional and international film industry professionals (filmmakers, film scholars, producers, critics etc), all independent of the TTFF. Judges have included Anita Allison (Sundance Channel), George Amponsah (independent documentary filmmaker), BC Pires (journalist and film critic), and Hilton Als (theatre and film critic for the New Yorker).

Of special note is that twelve participants have been chosen to take part in the Festival’s first ever Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion. Focus is an intensive workshop for Caribbean filmmakers—directors, screenwriters and producers—aimed at enhancing and deepening their creative skills. It will take place from 20 – 22 September, at Ajoupa Pottery in Chicklands, central Trinidad.

The selected Focus participants are: Francisco Pardo, Ryan Oduber (Aruba); Maria Govan, Kareem Mortimer (the Bahamas); Mandisa Pantin, Roderick de Weever, Camille Granger, Kevin Adams, Christopher Din Chong, Sean Hodgkinson, Renée Pollonais and Steven Taylor (Trinidad & Tobago). The 12 participants were chosen from all submissions received through a multiple-stage selection process, by a panel comprising staff of the TTFF and RBC Royal Bank, as well as a professional filmmaker independent of both organizations. Two experienced, international filmmakers – Venezuelan writer-director Fina Torres and Guyanese-Canadian actor and producer Damon D’Oliveira – will lead the Focus participants. Among Ms Torres’ films is Woman on Top starring Penelope Cruz, while Mr D’Oliveira’s résumé includes Poor Boy’s Game, starring Danny Glover.

At the end of Focus, the facilitators will chose their top five participants. During the film festival the chosen five will pitch the film projects they worked on during Focus to the ttff/11 awards jury at a public session. The person who makes the best pitch will win a cash prize of $20,000.

Here’s hoping everyone involved well. I’m surprised Mariette Monpierre’s wonderful Guadeloupe-based film Elza’s Happiness (Le Bonheur d’Elza) isn’t showing as well, but that may just be a timing thing as it just had a sneak preview in Brooklyn at Creatively Speaking this past Saturday. I sincerely wish I were going to Trinidad for ttff/11. Whoever does, let us know how it goes.

See everything about the Festival at –

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