Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 10th 2013 Contents B32
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 10, 2013
The Caribbean Review of Books (CRB),
the T&T-based quarterly magazine of
Caribbean literature and arts, resumes pub-
lication this month, supported by the NGC
Bocas Lit Fest. Published online at
caribbeanreviewofbooks.com, the CRB
reviews new and recent Caribbean books
alongside interviews with writers, original
poems and fiction, and essays on literature
and culture. It is free to all readers, with
no subscription fee.
The original CRB was published from
1991-1994 in Mona, Jamaica. In May 2004,
the magazine was revived by a team of
writers and editors based in Port-of-Spain.
The last print edition was published in
2009, and in 2010, the CRB was relaunched
as an online magazine.
With the November 2013 issue, the CRB
begins a partnership with the NGC Bocas
Lit Fest, T&T's annual literature festival.
"The alliance makes perfect sense," says
CRB editor Nicholas Laughlin, who is also
the programme director of the NGC Bocas
"Both magazine and festival have the
same fundamental aims: to build a read-
ership for books from and about the
Caribbean, bring new writers to a broader
audience, and provoke conversation about
literature and its place in society."
Though supported by the festival, the
CRB will maintain its editorial independ-
ence. "The CRB's literary coverage will
obviously inform the festival, and the festival
programme will turn up writers and books
that the CRB ought to cover," Laughlin
The November 2013, CRB will be pub-
lished online to coincide with NGC Bocas
Lit Fest South+Central, a programme of
events hosted by the festival in San Fer-
nando and Chaguanas on November 16-
17.In the nine-and-a-half years since the
CRB was revived in 2004, the magazine
has reviewed several hundred Caribbean
books, and published writing by such lit-
erary luminaries as Derek Walcott, Martin
Carter, and Lorna Goodison, as well as cel-
ebrated younger writers like Kei Miller,
Vahni Capildeo, Marlon James, Shara
McCallum, and Christian Campbell.
Novelist and poet David Dabydeen has
written, "I think CRB is the most important
development in the region, in literary crit-
icism, for generations."
A collaboration between a Canada-based
film distribution company and the Caribbean
Broadcasting Union will put a regional film
on local TV every Saturday night.
Called Caribbean Movie Night, the series
premiered yesterday on CNMG with the 2008
Bahamian film Rain.
The series will run for 26 weeks. Upcoming
films include the 2011 St Maarten film Antillean
Green Card, the 2005 Canadian film Devotion,
and the 2007 Barbadian/T&T film Hit for
The project is the initiative of Caribbean-
Tales, a company based in Toronto and run
by Trinidadian filmmaker Frances-Anne
Solomon, which distributes and promotes
Caribbean films and television programmes.
The Caribbean Broadcasting Union is assist-
"We are delighted to put this new arrange-
ment into place as it will bring important
local and regional works directly into easy
access of Caribbean audiences, as well as give
necessary exposure to emerging creative tal-
ents," said CBU's secretary general Patrick
The Caribbean Movie Night will be the first
of other projects from the partnership. It will
air on TV stations in Barbados and Jamaica
CaribbeanTales has also announced a call
for submissions to its online film festival called
Flim-o-rama. The submissions should be
three to five minutes long on the theme A
Caribbean Christmas. Prizes worth US$5,000
will be given to the top three videos.
"The first of its kind, the Flim-o-rama
Online Film Festival is designed to promote
Caribbean filmmakers while increasing access
to Caribbean-made films to a broader audi-
ence," said a press release from Caribbean-
Deadline for submissions is December 12,
and entries will only be accepted through
online video portals YouTube and Vimeo.
Winners will be notified by e-mail on January
15. More info: caribbeantales-tv.com
Caribbean films coming to a TV near you
Caribbean Review of Books is back
Novelist and poet David Dabydeen
A trailer Escayg released last month for
Noka: Keeper of Worlds introduced one of
them: a winged, Gollum-like figure that looked
almost as real as the human actors. (Escayg
was featured in this year's Animae Caribe Fes-
The protagonist is a blue-eyed American
boy, Gabriel, who comes to Trinidad for his
grandfather's funeral only to discover that the
dead man had magical abilities that he might
share. Most of the cast members are local,
including a spellbinding Conrad Parris, who
plays a Midnight Robber-like character called
Midnight, Gabriel's earthly guide.
Escayg thinks many things about local life,
culture and history would be fascinating to
first-world audiences, presenting limitless
opportunities to local filmmakers who want
international success. But their films have to
be delivered in the right way.
"Here's a kid who's not sure of his place;
he's not sure where he belongs; and he finds
this guy who stops him in his tracks and tells
him, No, no, no. You're not sick at all. You're
special.' Which is what every kid wants to
hear," said Escayg, explaining what he thinks
will be Noka's appeal.
He admits that his choice of lead was a way
of "spoon-feeding" the American public.
"I'm not saying it's necessary in every case.
FISH didn't have that problem," he said.
FISH tells the story of two desperately poor
Port-of-Spain brothers who steal to survive.
One of them, played by Escayg's younger
brother Marc, steals from the wrong person
and this leads to dire consequences, illustrated
with stomach-turning violence, unmodified
Trinidadian accents and many expletives.
"[American audiences] loved it," said Escayg.
"It's got a gritty nature to it; it's got under-
belly stuff; it's got the whole gangsta bit. And
that stuff is, quite frankly, easier to sell because
people are fascinated by that world.
"But the fantasy, folkloric type stories," he
added, getting back to Noka, "need to have
a connection that people want, especially in
"Part of my strategy was saying, What if
this was an American kid with roots in
Trinidad? The idea of Noka is a stranger in
a strange land; the American's the stranger in
Trinidad. So it gives that sense of fear, antic-
ipation, uncertainty about these people, with
Noka has other characters that Americans
will find familiar from their filmmaking tra-
"There's the protective, very kind churchgoer
woman who really wants the best interest of
the kid. Then there's the evil aunt who just
wants to buy the estate, tear it down and build
some condos. There's a colourful cast---all
Trinidadian and all relatives of this American
Escayg expects to finish a 25-minute version
of the film by February. And he said he's
already got a lot of interest in a longer one.
Escayg, who once was a partner in a T&T
company that produced ads and music videos,
said he was happy to see the recent success
among local audiences of a few films shot
here by T&T filmmakers.
But, he said, if they want international suc-
cess more needs to be done on the part of
filmmakers and on the part of the government
agency responsible for promoting filmmaking
He advised, "If they can make these links
with say the Netflix, the Hulus and the iTunes
(online film distribution hubs), which are very
accessible---I don't think we realise how acces-
sible---and say, Hey, we're going to produce
five films a year and present them to you,' and
they choose one, the payment from that one
film could sustain another ten films the next
year and develop the industry. That's how
other governments do it."
To filmmakers, he said, "We do not pay
attention to story. I think our films have great
concepts, great ideas, even the ability to tell
them is there, [but not] the writing, the story,
understanding how to write for film. It's not
the same as literature; it's a learning process.
I'm no expert. I'm [learning] as well."
And many local films, with their parochial
references and slang, aren't produced with
foreign audiences in mind.
"They're very specific to the Caribbean,
and we have to start looking outside. We have
this thing: it could either be local or interna-
tional and there's no in-between. We're wrong
in that sense. The in-between is the balance
in terms of making stuff that will be profitable.
I think everyone's trying to find what that
balance is. I know I am."
Escayg singled out two Trinidadian film-
makers for praise: Damian Marcano and
Marcano directed God Loves the Fighter,
which played to sold-out audiences at the
T&T Film Festival in September and won the
prize for best local feature film.
Marcano also lives in LA and reached out
to Escayg after a newspaper ran a profile on
"I respect him. I like his work," said Escayg,
who is currently working on "two big projects"
outside of his own. "It was inspirational to
see that approach to guerrilla filmmaking get-
ting good results."
Guinness produced two acclaimed shorts:
2011's Pothound and 2013's Captain T&T.
"I admire the production," Escayg said of
"It's high quality. It's well done. It shows
a lot of creative [genius]."
Overall, he said, signs are hopeful for the
T&T film industry.
"There are a lot of new upcoming film-
makers coming onto the scene. You see it in
music videos. They have gotten recently better,"
he said. "It's good that young people are taking
stuff and running with it."
'Signs hopeful for T&T film industry'
From Page B3
Filmmaker Shaun Escayg
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