Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 20th 2015 Contents B3
2015 T&T films
---Page B4 & B37
Tempo, CreativeTT hold
free music video workshop
Aleem Marcus Valentine is used to being
seen. He is tall, with the face and physique
of a model. He is a model, part-time, when
he isn t working at his chosen career as a
chef. The modelling goes back to his teenage
years, when his mother sent him for lessons
in the hope he would be cured of his "gang-
"I still have that kind of crawl, it s a rugged,
kind of rough walk I have," says the 25-year-
old, recalling the events that brought him into
the cast of The Resort, a short film screening
at the T&T Film Festival this month.
The walk has become his calling card for
his modelling work. And in general. He is used
to hearing he has been spotted around town:
"You can t miss that walk," his friends say.
In early 2014, director Shadae Lamar Smith
was in Tobago casting for a movie project, his
thesis project for his master s in film directing
and production from UCLA (University of
He had help: local producers Dave Elliott
and Ryan Khan; the Tobago House of Assembly
supported the project, even sponsoring a cast-
ing call on the radio.
"Blessed" is Smith s description of the THA s
assistance; "perfect partnering," says producer
Marjuan Canady, who hopes The Resort will
also serve as a positive example for other film-
makers thinking of working in T&T.
"We cast most everyone from that call,"
says Smith of the THA casting call. But there
was no male lead until the day he and producer
Elliott were driving through Scarborough.
Smith spotted someone on the street---just a
pedestrian, just someone walking. Just Aleem
"I m looking at Marcus---he looks like he
could be the lead in my film," recalls Smith,
who backed his experience as a director to
help even a novice deliver the performance
required for the film.
Elliott called out to Valentine from road:
"Hey, you need a ride?"
The men knew each other. Elliott had pre-
viously tried to persuade Valentine to join a
movie project, but Valentine declined. He was
building his career in the culinary arts. What
other time he had was spent at the gym, the
occasional modelling gig, or with his PlaySta-
tion. He had no time for movies. Still, this
was not another movie role, this was just a
lift. He hopped into Elliott s car.
"Ever done a film?" asked Smith as soon
as Valentine was settled.
The Resort addresses a subject not often
discussed in polite society: sex tourism, and
in particular, women travelling to the Caribbean
to seek the romantic attention of local men.
Rent-a-dread, rastatutes, beach boys: what
discussion of the matter there is often takes
place under frivolous or diminishing labels.
Nonetheless, it is a not insignificant part of
the informal side of the Caribbean s economy.
The 2006 documentary Rent a Rasta estimated
80,000 visitors to Jamaica become witting or
unwitting clients of the island s sex tourism
trade every year.
There are several strands to the discussion
of the Caribbean s beach boy phenomenon:
public health; the question of whether visitors,
locals, or both are being exploited; even the
question of whether a short-term relationship
forged on the beach is prostitution at all.
The typical arrangement is usually described
as a young, local man connecting with an
older, foreign woman. There is not necessarily
any formal transaction, but the one party (the
tourist) invariably bears the cost of the rela-
tionship---meals, drinks, perhaps clothes,
sometimes even rent or a stipend. Is that pros-
titution or dating?
It is not a question The Resort seeks to
answer. "I am not interested in judging or
drawing conclusions," says Smith. His interest
in the subject was piqued by a more personal
experience. No, not that type of experience.
Shadae Lamar Smith is Jamaican, and he
is American. Born and raised in Florida, his
Caribbean heritage does not necessarily reveal
itself unless Smith chooses to make it known.
"I find when I tell people I am Jamaican,
something sexy pops into their heads," he says.
"It seems like people react to me differently
than if I said I was from Jacksonville or South
Smith is interested in the idea that Caribbean
identity has been sexualised and exoticised
by decades of aggressive sun-and-fun mar-
keting. This has created a pervasive image of
the Caribbean and its cultures in the minds
of those being encouraged to visit: "All of a
sudden, people talk about sex for some rea-
Those observations directed Smith to the
academic discussion of Caribbean identity,
and subsequently toward the literature on the
region s sex tourism trade. On beaches in
Jamaica and Tobago, with new awareness he
watched relationships form. The Resort exam-
ines those relationships from the perspective
of the man selling himself to a foreign visitor.
And it juxtaposes the experience with other
tourism-dependent occupations: housekeeping
and the sale of watersports or tour packages
on the beach.
Perhaps the varied narrative (the story is
told in three vignettes) explains why, at first
reading, Valentine thought of his role as "a
saltfish. I m a saltfish man: everybody likes
me." On set, in front of the cameras, tasked
with bringing the words of the script to life,
he realised the most memorable aspect of his
character might not be his general conviviality:
"I thought: Woah, this is a man willing to sell
The shady side of paradise
The Resort's international premiere takes
place September 24, at 9 pm, at
MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, and the film
screens again on the following dates:
• Sept 25, 8 pm, MovieTowne, Tobago
• Sept 28, 3 pm, MovieTowne, Tobago
• Sept 29, 6 pm, MovieTowne, POS
Aleem Marcus Valentine plays the lead in the
new short The Resort, filmed in Tobago.
IMAGE COURTESY SEPIA WORKS
Links Archive September 19th 2015 September 21st 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page