Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 10th 2014 Contents A29
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Elephants that give birth as teenagers
die younger, but are fitter than mothers
that delay, say scientists.
Researchers studied Asian elephants
working in the timber industry in Myan-
mar, also known as Burma.
Mothers that gave birth younger were
found to have larger families overall, and
this greater genetic legacy is considered
Experts suggest a full understanding of
the animals' reproductive health could re-
duce the strain on wild populations.
The findings are published in the Jour-
nal of Evolutionary Biology.
Asian elephants are listed as Endan-
gered by the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature; around 50,000
animals are thought to exist worldwide.
In Myanmar, approximately 5,000 of
the animals are used in the state-owned
timber industry to provide powerful
transport in the dense jungle.
Advocates consider the practice to
have less impact on the environment be-
cause it reduces the need for roads
through the jungle and heavy haulage
machinery. The elephants are free to
roam the forest at night and during rest
breaks. During this time they mix - and
mate - with wild elephants.
But fertility rates and the survival of
young elephants are low for the semi-
captive animals, meaning more elephants
have to be captured from the wild every
Teenage elephant mums die younger but are fitter
A man rushes up to the house
in Petit Valley to deliver a bag of
corn syrup, condensed milk and
red dye to Jeffrey Alleyne. I m on
set with the filmmaker in the
sleepy village he has dubbed "Val-
"This is not a gangster film,"
Alleyne tells me, a few days later
at the T&T Guardian s offices,
despite the fact the corn syrup and
red dye were used as liquid special
effects for the bloodier scenes.
There is gun violence in the film,
but it s more than a film about
gangsters. "There are scenes on the
avenue, scenes in a dancehall, scenes
featuring the elders in the commu-
nity," says Alleyne. "We re trying to
show the lives that are happening
in the sub-culture ghettoes of T&T."
It s not a film that glorifies vio-
lence: quite the opposite. With its
young, talented cast of amateur
actors most of whom come from
Morvant and Laventille, it s a film
with a message about how depress-
ingly easy it can be for youths to
slip into violent retribution in
Trinidad s rougher communities.
"Doing the wrong thing is easier,"
says lead actor Raphael Joseph, who
plays a character called Machine, a
maxi driver with a good heart and
some bad acquaintances, whose
main aim in life is to provide for
his family and enjoy himself. Gen-
erous with the little money he earns,
we see him in touching scenes giv-
ing money to his niece, played by
the director s 16-year-old daughter
Sunshyne De Silva. A fondness for
winning at cards with unsavoury
characters leads him into problems
that spiral out of control.
When Alleyne appeared on a
morning TV talk show, one of the
producers told him his film, Wel-
come To Warlock: The Land of the
Lawless, reminded him of the
Brazilian film City of God, an ultra-
violent, surreal movie from 2002
which portrays young black ghetto
kids taking lives with little fore-
thought or afterthought. But Wel-
come To Warlock, Alleyne s first
full-length feature film, pays more
attention to the impact violent crime
can have on lives, relationships and
"We want people to watch this
movie and say, "I don t want to be
a gangster," says Darrel Munroe,
who plays a peacemaker between
the warring factions.
Guerrillas in the mist
Filmed by Alleyne alone, using a
handycam and tripod, it could be
described as guerrilla filmmaking.
Scenes are shot spontaneously. A
typical day s work involves Alleyne
assembling his young thespians,
briefing them on the scene, throw-
ing them lines from the script, then
letting them run with it. This fluid
mode of production means scenes
can be halted and re-started instant-
ly with directions given in a no-
Later, Alleyne edits the scenes,
boosting the audio, re-dubbing dia-
logue, fixing sequencing and con-
An 11-minute trailer on YouTube
has had over 20,000 views and cre-
ated a buzz in Morvant and beyond,
where the film s release on DVD is
Following the kind of DIY ethos
that characterises underground pop-
ular culture in these modern times,
the DVD will be self-produced and
distributed by cast members.
It s a shame it won t get wider
coverage by being entered into the
T&T Film Festival 2014, but there
are reasons that might not hap-
pen---predominantly an impasse
between Alleyne and the film indus-
try officials. Besides, Alleyne tells
me, being in the film festival doesn t
guarantee bigger audiences.
"I went to a screening of an
underground movie at MovieTowne
and there were two people in the
auditorium," he says. Perhaps word
of mouth will carry it to the audi-
ence it deserves.
Alleyne describes his style as "a
mix between Hollywood and Nol-
lywood. With more emphasis on
how a film feels not how it looks
He would be the first to acknowl-
edge that the film isn t slick or over-
produced. But why would a gritty
film about street life be filmed in
Super HD? That wouldn t make
much sense. Alleyne s film sits at
the intersection of art and real life.
"It s a community action project.
It s film as a social intervention tool.
If the government want to know
what to do about violence they
should watch me."
A few days later at the T&T Film
Company stakeholder meeting,
Alleyne took the floor and said, "I
could snap my fingers and make a
film. It mightn t be a high-quality
film, but it go be a film people want
And he s right. Lots of arthouse
movies come out of T&T, barely
registering with the public. There
is more buzz about this film among
ordinary young Trinis. Somebody
ought to ensure it is seen by the
maximum number of eyes.
Meeting the cast
The following week, five of the
actors come to the T&T Guardian s
offices. I take them into the board-
room, where they seem at ease. Six-
teen-year-old Omarley Philbert
from Morvant sits at the head of
the long table as if he s the CEO,
at one point asking, to the amuse-
ment of the others, if this is "where
they get together and agree who
they re going to fire?"
When Philbert and I first speak
I fear we might need a translator
for my English accent and his Trini
Darrel Munroe, 39, has seen a
lot. From Morvant originally, he
now lives in Gonzales, Belmont.
Both areas lie within, "the war zone"
as he puts it. He found his own
mother murdered and tells me he
had two choices: send people to kill
the perpetrators or turn the other
cheek. He is now established within
the Rastafarian community and
something of a counsellor for youths
on the brink of self-destruct.
"I ll be real with you, I grew up
in the thug life as a kid. I know the
life and a lot of youths look up to
me. Some would say I m a leader
or a head, but I would say I m an
elder. I don t promote robbing or
any form of wrongdoing."
He feels the film will be the first
to accurately reflect what happens
in bad areas.
"If you want to act those roles,
come in the ghetto," he says. "Spend
a week or a little two days, see how
it is in the ghetto, see what the
youths are doing, so when you go
back out there you know how it
Triston Carryl is 20 and softly
spoken. He saw the YouTube trailer
and was introduced to Alleyne. Get-
ting a part required confidence, pas-
sion and self-motivation. His friends
are happy for him, he says. "Acting
gets me off the streets. They tell
being my future."
Would they act in a different kind
of film, a love story? I m trying to
understand if it s the ghetto element
that appeals but they say they d be
more than happy to act in a T&T
street version of Romeo and Juliet.
When Sunshyne arrives I revisit the
subject and they seem even more
keen to play such a part with her
CONTINUES ON PAGE A30
Welcome to Warlock Where Hollywood
On set in Petit Valley, aka "Valleywood", director and producer Jeffrey Alleyne, left, instructs the young cast of
Welcome To Warlock, Shane Piango, Darrel Munroe, Triston Carryl, Marcus Munroe, Chanice Thomas and
Darwayne Bennett. PHOTO: JOSHUA SURTEES
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