Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 16th 2014 Contents A33
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
This year, the T&T Film Festival
hosts its ninth consecutive
celebration of films created in this
country, in the region and the
It's been a steadily growing
enterprise, recording 18,651
attendees for its screenings in
2013, the lion's share of which were
viewed during the festival proper.
The TTFF's editorial director,
Jonathan Ali, sat to answer some
questions posed by MARK
LYNDERSAY (a customer-focused
devil's advocate), about the state
of the festival and where it seeks
to go in the future.
Q: Who does the film festival
hope to attract as an audi-
ence? For the few shows that I ve
attended it seems to be largely the
same folks over and over, with a
lot of cross-pollination between
the world of art galleries and the
A: You clearly need to get to
more screenings, Mark! We
strive to be diverse in our selections
when programming the festival, and
the increasing, and increasingly
diverse audiences reflect this.
The audience that will go to see
the two-hour-long avant-garde
ethnographic documentary set in
Nepal (Manakamana) is not neces-
sarily the audience that will go to
see the local farcical comedy A Story
About Wendy 2, which is again per-
haps not the audience that will go
to see Bad Hair, a Venezuelan social-
realist drama about a young boy
obsessed with straightening his curly
Who does the film festival hope
to attract as participants? Is there
an overarching agenda or mission
that guides the selection process
and the efforts to bring new film-
makers into the festival?
The festival s main mission is to
show the best new films by film-
makers from T&T, the Caribbean and
the diaspora. We also seek to help
develop the local and regional film
industry by hosting workshops, panel
discussions, presentations and so on.
So we seek to attract the film-
makers who are making these films,
and who are enthusiastic about what
they are trying to do for the industry
We also hand-pick professionals
from the international film indus-
try---directors, producers, funding
agencies, distributors and more---
who are interested in what s hap-
pening in the Caribbean.
Many people are interested to
come and work with our film-mak-
ers, share information, network, and
make real and lasting connections
that can get Caribbean films seen
by a much wider audience.
With the exception of God Loves
the Fighter and the A Story about
Wendy filmlet, have there been
other films that have drawn in a
Every year multiple films play to
sold-out or near-sold-out audiences
during the festival. Two examples
from last year in addition to God
Loves the Fighter would be Bruce
Paddington s documentary on Grena-
da, Forward Ever, and Miquel
Galofré s Jamaica-set prison film,
Songs of Redemption.
And then, there were several
screenings of packages of local and
regional short films that were also
In previous years we ve had films
like Mariel Brown s Eric Williams
documentary and Remembering a
Revolution, on the 1970 events, plus
internationally acclaimed films like
Beasts of the Southern Wild (whose
director, Benh Zeitlin, was our guest)
selling out multiple times.
We feel vindicated when we see
these large audiences; we know we re
succeeding in our mission.
Is the entire film festival being
staged this year with a blind eye to
the runaway success of Welcome to
Warlock? Even if it isn t the kind of
fare that usually gets screened, does-
n t it deserve some discussion or
You said it yourself: Welcome to
Warlock---which I have seen and
admire, if more for its ethos than its
aesthetics---has had unprecedented
The festival seeks primarily to pro-
vide a platform for local films---all
kinds of films---that are yet to see the
light of day, let alone any kind of
That said, there will be a number
of panel discussions during the fes-
tival, and no doubt Welcome to War-
lock will come up in conversation.
In fact, I look forward to it.
What was the original intention
of the film festival and what is its
current mission if they aren t still
The festival began in 2006 as a
much-needed forum for local audi-
ences to see themselves reflected on
the big screen.
That still remains a core intention,
but the mission has broadened. We
now show films not only from T&T
and the Caribbean but also from inde-
pendent world cinema, which has
proven a hit with our audiences.
We also are working more than
ever before to help develop, in asso-
ciation with several partners, including
the T&T Film Company and the film
programme at UWI, the local and
regional film industry.
If we want to show local films, we
realised we needed to help local film-
makers get those films made. So
absolutely, there are synergies between
the two, there is interdependence.
Can you point to decisive suc-
cesses that have emerged from the
film festival? Have these served to
provide leverage points for a local
The ever-increasing audiences at
the festival show clearly there is a
desire, a market for local films.
We are fighting a formidable bat-
tle: a century of domination by Hol-
lywood, and, therefore, a public that
by and large has traditionally not
been able to respond to anything
but the commercial American for-
mula. (I love good Hollywood films,
by the way.)
Again, the increasing audiences
at the festival and the increasing
number of local films being made
are positive signs. We need to be
patient. And we need the committed
support, financial and otherwise, of
those who can and should give it.
A group of drag queens and
transgender performers have called on
Facebook to allow stage names rather
than real names on the social network.
A petition supporting the change has
attracted more than 2,000 signatures.
Facebook told the BBC that its real-
name policy was designed to protect the
community and increase accountability.
But the group argued that performers
should be allowed to use stage names for
reasons of "privacy, safety, or preference".
The petition, set up by Seattle-based
performer Olivia La Garce, reads:
"Although our names might not be our
'legal' birth names, they are still an
integral part of our identities, both
personally and to our communities.
"These are the names we are known by
and call each other. We build our
networks, community, and audience
under the names we have chosen, and
forcing us to switch our names after
years of operating under them has
caused nothing but confusion and pain."
Another performer, San Francisco-
based Sister Roma, said he was locked
out of his account until he used the name
A hashtag #mynameisroma was
started to raise awareness of the issue.
The Film Festival:
Jonathan Ali, the editorial director of the T&T Film Festival.
The TTFF runs from September 16--30 at MovieTowne PoS and
Tobago, Little Carib Theatre, Film Programme building at UWI,
Medulla Art Gallery, Alice Yard, Alliance Française, Hyatt Regency
Hotel, UTT at APA, and Drink Bistro and Lounge.
All films at MovieTowne and Little Carib Theatre are $30 each.
At MovieTowne, students in uniform or with student ID pay $15.
Find out more at the festival's Web site,
http://www.ttfilmfestival.com or pick up a copy of the printed guide
from MovieTowne or Little Carib Theatre.
An electronic copy can be downloaded here:
http://issuu.com/ttfilmfestival/docs/ttff14_guide and for the
dedicated cinephile, the festival app for iPhone and Android is
available on the appropriate app store.
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN
Continued on Page A34
Drag queens in Facebook name row
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