Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 14th 2014 Contents |FILM|
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As the official media partner of the trinidad+tobago film
festival, the Guardian Newspaper and WOW magazine
are pleased to put the spotlight on some of the
Caribbean's finest experienced and emerging female film
professionals, looking today at two women with very per-
sonal stories to tell, and one young woman who has man-
aged to combine her love for fashion with her love for film.
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In the 1960s, a group of Rastas petitioned Queen Elizabeth
II for reparations as compensation for 300 years of the
most cruel and inhumane treatment of enslaved Africans,
and the trans-Atlantic trade in Black human cargo of which
Britain was at the centre. The money earned from the pro-
duction of sugar and other crops, using slave labour, was
used to enrich Europe, and to finance its Industrial Revolu-
tion. When plantation slavery ended, British planters were
compensated for their 'loss'. The slaves, of course, were not.
With no response from the British monarch to the 1960s
reparations request, the Monarch was again petitioned by
a group of Rastas when she visited Jamaica in 2002, as part
of her Golden Jubilee celebrations. This, in turn, set off chain
reactions around the world, with international debate on the
issue, a lawsuit against the Queen, and an 11 year "labour of
love" by Jamaican film maker Karen Marks Mafundikwa, cul-
minating in The Price of Memory - her documentary explor-
ing the enduring legacy of slavery and the decades-long
movement for reparations.
Mafundikwa travelled across England and filmed in the
cities where the legacy of slavery was most evident. She
also visited the ruins of former plantations scattered across
Jamaica, and meets and interviews activists Ras Lion, a
mystic Rasta farmer whose great-grandmother told him
stories about slavery, and Michael Lorne, the attorney who
brought the lawsuit.
Mafundikwa has a BA in Journalism and Anthropology from
New York University and an MSc in International Develop-
ment, Tulane University School of Law, and has worked in
television and film in the United States.
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Shannon Alonzo can't wait for the 16th of September, the
opening night of this year's trinidad+tobago film festival
(ttff/14). The youthful-looking 26 year old is part of the cre-
ative team brought together by fashion designer Meiling, to
provide costumes for the Festival's opening night film Pan!
Our Music Odyssey.
Alonzo, along with her mentor Meiling, and wardrobe col-
leagues --- Zidelle Daniel, Monica Joseph and Raenella Allum
--- was responsible for everything wardrobe related, with the
awesome responsibility of bringing the filmmakers' vision to
On a daily basis, she could be found organizing fittings with
the actors, hunting for vintage clothing downtown, at Good-
will or other thrift stores, trying to source the right pieces for
the period. Since the film was set in the 1940s and '50s, this
was no easy task. A few pieces had to be made, but the bulk
of costumes came from Goodwill, with boys school (long)
pants, dyed in funky colours, thrown in for good measure. The
look had to be a fine balance between historically accurate
and slightly contemporary.
You can hear her excitement as Alonzo describes referencing
Kim Johnson's book on pan, scouring the archives of the Na-
tional Library and rummaging through family photos. There
are also some authentic 'costumes' in the film -- like the police
and nurses' uniforms -- borrowed from the police museum
and the Port of Spain General Hospital archives.
She hasn't yet seen the film and is excited to see how the
sets and costuming come to life and expects the recreation
of 1950s Port of Spain -- with its vintage cars and vintage
fashion --- to be magical when it unfolds on the big screen.
Little White Lie tells the story of Lacey Schwartz, a Har-
vard Law School graduate who grew up as an only child in
an upper-middle-class Jewish home, in the mostly white
town of Woodstock, New York, with loving parents and a
strong sense of her Jewish identity.
But there were always questions --- like how a white girl
like her had such dark skin. She never doubted her parent's
explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-
skinned Sicilian grandfather, until in adulthood the little
white lie about her lineage began to unravel.
"I was already questioning my whiteness because of what
other people said, and because I was aware that I looked
different from my family," she recalled. Then, at 18, when
she applied to Georgetown University, they passed her
name on to the Black Student Association based on the
photograph accompanying her application. The Association
embraced her. She was clearly one of them.
The university "gave me permission" to explore a black
identity, Schwartz would later say. Confronting her mother,
she eventually learned the truth: her biological father was
not the white Jewish man who raised her, but a black man
named Rodney -- with whom her mother had had an affair.
Schwartz hopes the film will encourage discussions, both
about race, and the consequences of keeping family se-
crets -- seeing her personal story as a universal one about
family secrets and the power of telling the truth.
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Shannon Alonzo photo by Marlon James
TTFF14 caribbean feature_Price of Memory
TTFF14_Little White Lie - Lacey Schwartz & her mom.
TTFF14_Little White Lie - Lacey Schwartz.
TTFF14 caribbean feature_Pan
TTFF14 caribbean feature_Pan
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