Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 6th 2015 Contents PETER RAY BLOOD
The West Indies at War is a four-part tel-
evision series that tells the little known story
of soldiers from the West Indies who fought
and died in World War I.
Many of these valiant men were not allowed
to enlist because of their race. After months
of struggle and with a steadily rising death toll
on battlefields across the world, the men of
the Caribbean were finally allowed into the
The West Indies at War was produced and
directed by award-winning filmmaker Mariel
Brown who said she was driven to produce this
television series as when the World War I cen-
tenary celebrations began there was a noticeable
absence of historical accounts on the involve-
ment of the West Indies and its people.
"My aim is to elucidate our West Indian sto-
ries as told by ourselves," added Brown.
She explained that during the war, the men
experienced discrimination at the hands of
their white counterparts and were forced into
menial labour roles. Said Brown: "Upon their
return to the Caribbean, the embittered soldiers,
led by Arthur Cipriani, Uriah Butler and Norman
Manley, banded together and rallied the masses
against their colonial oppressors for the right
to vote and appoint local men onto the Leg-
islative Council. The First World War shook
Brown continued: "Initially, black people
from the Caribbean were not even allowed to
enlist in a regiment because the thinking was
that it would be dangerous to teach them how
to fire weapons. The War Office in England
was concerned that once trained, black soldiers
could pick up arms against the British colonials
in the region and rebel."
This is not Brown s initial foray into a his-
torical documentary of this kind. Her docu-
mentary, Inward Hunger: The Story of Eric
Williams, won the 2011 prize for Best Local
Feature Film at the T&T Film Festival. The
story is told through rare archival footage and
photographs, woven together with interviews
from leading Caribbean historians, journalists
and writers, including professors Brinsley Sama-
roo and Bridget Brereton, journalist Judy Ray-
mond and award-winning writers Oliver Senior
and Lawrence Scott. The series also features
a moving original music score by T&T com-
poser, Francesco Emmanuel.
Born in England but raised in Trinidad, as
a child Brown s dreams included becoming an
ice skater (yes, in Trinidad) or an architect. "I
grew up with a mom who was an interior
designer, and a dad who was a writer. I was
not good at Math or Physics so following in
mom s career path was out. When one grows
with creative people who have deep interest
and curiosity in the Caribbean it rubs off on
a young person.
"So, when I got my first job at Trinidad &
Tobago Television (TTT) as a reporter I realised
that I wanted to be able to tell stories of my
people. People wanted to have their stories told.
The more involved I got in television the more
I realised how marginalised we were in our own
local broadcast milieu. Working with Tony
Fraser at TTT was just a gift. He was a fantastic
mentor and he gave me the room to grow."
At TTT, Brown got the opportunity to do
documentaries which were more driven by
human interest as opposed to news. Brown
said: "We were allowed by Tony to produce
15-20-minute programmes which gave me the
chance to explore a subject in depth, and to be
more creative. My first entry into independent
production came with Sancoche, a 30-minute
cooking and lifestyle aired on Gayelle and TV
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
ET screenwriter Melissa Mathison has
died of cancer, aged 65.
Mathison, who was previously married
to Harrison Ford, won an Oscar
nomination for best original screenplay
for her work on the 1982 Steven
"Melissa had a heart that shone with
generosity and love and burned as bright
as the heart she gave ET," said director
Spielberg, in a statement.
Prior to her death, Mathison reunited
with Spielberg to write the screenplay
for his adaptation of Roald Dahl's BFG.
Mathison's screenwriting career began
with the 1979 adaptation of The Black
Stallion, starring Mickey Rooney.
She went on to pen the movie
adaptation of The Twilight Zone, as well
as adapting the Lynne Reid Bank's novel
The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) and
the screenplay to Martin Scorsese's 1997
Dalai Lama tale Kundun.
The BFG---due for release next year
and starring Mark Rylance in the title
role---marks Mathison's first
screenwriting work in almost 20 years.
Nia Vardalos, actress, author of My Big
Fat Greek Wedding, tweeted: "Melissa
Mathison, thank you for leading the way
for women who write, RIP." (BBC)
ET screenwriter Melissa Mathison dies
Initially black people from the Caribbean were not even allowed to enlist in a
regiment because the thinking was that it would be dangerous to teach them how to
fire weapons. The War Office in England was concerned that once trained, black
soldiers could pick up arms against the British colonials in the region and rebel.
Remembering brave West Indian fighters
Mariel Brown is passionate about making
documentaries that tell us stories about
ourselves. PHOTO: MICHELLE JORSLING
British West Indian Regiment carrying munitions.
Continues on Page A30
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