Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2015 Contents A29
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
The director of Taylor Swift's new
video has defended it following
criticisms it depicts a whitewashed
version of Africa.
The video for Wildest Dreams had
been accused of glamourising a "white
colonial fantasy of Africa".
But director Joseph Kahn has said it
"is not a video about colonialism but a
love story on the set of a period film
crew in Africa, 1950".
Swift has not commented on the
controversy around the video.
In a statement Kahn denied that the
video only includes white people.
"The reality is not only were there
people of colour in the video, but the
key creatives who worked on this video
are people of colour."
He points out he is Asian American,
while the producer Jill Hardin and editor
Chancler Haynes are African Americans.
"We collectively decided it would have
been historically inaccurate to load the
crew with more black actors as the
video would have been accused of
"This video is set in the past by a
crew set in the present and we are all
proud of our work." (BBC)
Taylor Swift director defends 'colonial' Africa video
Amy (a passionate UK documentary about
the life of soul queen Amy Winehouse), Gone
With the River (a Venezuelan drama about
a Warao woman s dilemma), and Gueros (an
offbeat, lively Mexican comedy about a
teenage troublemaker---film critic Godfrey
Cheshire called it a "sly, insouciant master-
piece") are just a hint of the movie feast to
start this month.
The T&T Film Festival (TTFF) celebrates its
tenth anniversary this year from September
15-29 with two weeks of non-stop activity,
helped by presenting sponsors Flow and leading
sponsors BPTT and the T&T Film Company
(FilmTT). Its programme of films, industry
events, parties and limes include a line-up of
more than 100 films spanning narrative, doc-
umentary and experimental genres. Politics,
human rights and a nuanced view of issues
affecting the region feature strongly among
this year s offerings, as do entertaining films
such as Bazodee which stars our very own
soca king Machel Montano in a steamy inter-
racial love story; the movie has its world pre-
miere on September 23 at the Globe Cinema
in Port of Spain.
The opening night gala will take place at
Queen s Hall on September 15 with a screening
of Sweet Micky for President, a Haitian film
about an unlikely presidential campaign.
The Film Festival was launched at a press
conference on Wednesday at the downtown
Hyatt hotel, where the T&T Guardian talked
with some key people involved with the festival.
Annabelle Alcazar, TTFF editorial director,
has been with the festival almost since it began;
she joined the organising team in its second
"I ve been here for nine years," she said.
"The growth I have seen is phenomenal, both
in terms of the number of films we now show---
it s grown from 30 the first year to over 100
this year---and in the quality of the local films
"Generally, we can see that the professional
workshops we ve run have really paid off," she
said. "We can see the quality growing, which
is what our goal is: to grow the indigenous
"It s not just about showing films. We want
to do more than that; we want to up the skill
set of all the local filmmakers, and also help
them see the kinds of films that we re showing,
because you learn how to make a film from
seeing other films as well. It s like if you re a
writer, you ve got to read books."
"Our tag line this year is: It starts here.
"We didn t want to feel too self-satisfied
at ten years, so now we re on to phase two.
But I m thrilled with where we re at."
Alcazar gave an example of where she s seen
filmmakers skills blossom.
"One place where I ve really seen the dif-
ference is in the films that come out of the
UWI BA and film programme. That programme
is also almost ten years old, as is the Film
Company; everything started in 2006. So when
I first came on in 2007, there was a limited
number of films coming out of the UWI pro-
gramme, and they were all literally about drugs,
violence, guns, and the quality wasn t great;
but we still showed them, to encourage (film-
making). Now this year, the subject matter is
so diverse, it s just amazing; everything from
a portrait of a cuatro singer to problems of
Laventille, to environmental themes. That, to
me, is really encouraging."
Behind the scenes
Jonathan Ali, TTFF editorial director, spoke
to the T&T Guardian about the challenges in
running a film festival. A main one every year,
he said, is the need to screen oodles of films
in order to select the best possible programme.
"We try to get a balance and variety in the
types of films, and of course we look for quality
films. There s a six-member screening com-
mittee," he explained, which screens films
from March to July. The committee solicits
films in two ways, he said: one is research by
TTFF members, who attend film festivals, do
research online, and form relationships with
filmmakers and producers from whom they
find out about good films. The other way is
through an open call for submissions of
Caribbean film from March to May each year.
"We start watching films once they start com-
ing in," said Ali.
After selection comes the task of scheduling
the programme, which may involve pairing
short films with longer features, and looking
at themes. Every year the TTFF invites guests
from the local film scene as well as some
regional and foreign filmmakers. "All that s a
great juggling act. It s a lot of work, but it s
fun," he commented: "We watch feature-length
and short films. I watch several hundred a
"A number of the films in competition this
year, especially some TT films, were submitted
by young filmmakers I d never heard of before.
Some were at school abroad. That was nice
to see---Trinidadians who live here, but who
are at school abroad, and submitting films
What about members of the public who
may want to see Caribbean and regional films
year-round, outside of the festival schedule?
Bazodee, the movie
Montano and Kabir Bedi,
will have its world
premiere at TTFF 2015.
Continued on Page A40
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