Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents B4
September 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Escape From Babylon, the first totally-local action
feature-length flick to get a commercial showing in
years, has all the elements of a crowd-pleaser: beautiful
women in trouble, a tall, handsome hero to rescue
them, and multiple fight scenes.
Filmmaker Nick Attin said Escape was influenced
by the 1976 US film Taxi Driver and one can see that.
The lead character---cop-turned-taxi driver Ran-
dolph Briggs (Kearn Samuel)---takes an interest in a
young prostitute, and the sometimes-seedy, some-
times-funny, sometimes-strange late-night character
of a city is revealed through the protagonist s varied
passengers and observations: Two young men ole
talk and jocularly discuss girls on their way to a party,
pedestrians jaywalk and jostle around vendors, long,
beautiful shots show the lights and buildings of Port-
of-Spain at night.
The film gives a compelling depiction of the city.
But there were other apparent influences on Escape:
A Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer---actually called
Hector---played by Gregory Pollonais, targets young
women. Briggs has a Bruce Wayne-like emotional
distance from a city that he nevertheless feels com-
pelled to protect.
And then there are the elements that are not specific
to one film but many: A withdrawn hero is unfairly
penalised then ostracised, and a slightly zany but
loyal partner/friend Mackie---wonderfully acted by
Conrad Parris---continues to advise and support him.
It s fascinating watching these elements rendered
in T&T vernacular---with not an American accent to
be heard. And no doubt this should be part of its
appeal to local audiences.
But selling dramatic presentations to local con-
sumers is a dicey proposition, as can be seen in the
miniscule number of dramatic plays produced in
comparison to comedic ones. The last commercial
T&T film released before Escape was the puppet
comedy I m Santana: The Movie, which did well.
Escape has not done nearly as well. It was pulled
after a week at Cinemas 8 in Trincity Mall, where
it opened on August 21.
Cinemas 8 general manager Onika Ali-Aziz said
a survey of people who saw the film found that most
But its box office receipts weren t competing well
with the American blockbusters, she said. She blamed
the poor showing on inadequate advertising and pro-
motion. The film also might have done better at a
different time in the year, she said.
The manager at the Empire Multiplex in San Fer-
nando said the film "did very well." But it only ran
for one week there as well.
Director Nick Attin told a tale of unreturned phone
calls and e-mails as he and his crew tried to bring
radio and TV stations and investors on board for
advertising and promotional appearances.
"It s been one of the greatest struggles. It s been
very difficult," he said.
And despite Onika Ali-Aziz s words to the contrary,
Attin believes there s a resistance to a locally made
film from local audiences. He heard of cinema-goers
exiting the theatre and demanding their money back,
saying they didn t know it was local.
He said he still has hopes for the film. He s trying
to get it on the IMAX theatre and on screens abroad.
He still plans to begin producing a sequel next year
and is hoping to cast a "major Hollywood star," he
"We re going on," he said. "It s just tragic that our
own home cast us aside. The rest of the world is
waiting on us."
So Escape from Babylon isn t as successful as the
filmmakers would have liked. But it is an impressive
achievement nevertheless when you consider the
dearth of feature-length movies in the Caribbean
and the small number of people who made the film
with limited funding and equipment.
Attin, who up until recently was a film student
and had only done one feature film before, also co-
produced the film and created the soundtrack.
Escape was a much bigger undertaking than his
more cerebral previous film, Little Boy Blue. The
expectation is that he and Caribbean filmmaking will
only get better.
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Action movie, T&T-style
A Trifecta of the Week's Best Films on the Box
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