CREATIVE SPACE #11 of 2020 (uploaded July 15th 2020)
CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. There are plans for its continued evolution across multiple media platforms. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, and freelancer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared on July 15th 2020 in the Daily Observer: Creative Space Film DO
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with extras.
If you would like to be featured or to sponsor (i.e. advertise with) a future installment of the jhohadli.wordpress.com online edition of CREATIVE SPACE, BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture (contact Joanne)
CREATIVE SPACE: It’s Not All About Netflix
I haven’t touched yet on local films in this column. Let me tell you about some of the ones I have seen, with emphasis on what’s available for online viewing.
Most recent are short films by Wadadli Plus, specifically personal favourite ‘The Guest’ (uncredited), a comedy with both sexual and religious overtones, and ‘It’s My Time Now’ (written by Bridgette Hanniford/directed by Melissa McLeish), a parable about how the way you treat people when they’re down can bless or damn you, depending. These and others can be watched for free on Wadadli Plus’ YouTube channel.
Scenes from Dinner.
A favourite is Tameka Jarvis-George’s ‘Dinner’, a film short adapted from her poem of the same name. Tameka co-stars with her husband in the film. It is beautifully shot and
“sweetly provocative” (correction: this quote from the print version is inaccurate – my error – the actual quote is: “sweetly poetic…if slightly provocative”, also “tastefully delightful”) – as described by the media in Jamaica where it picked up a film award. It was co-produced by Cinque productions with direction by Chris Hodges (correction: Christopher Hodge – again, my error), and can be viewed at BGR Mag TV on You Tube. Also high up the list is Shabier Kirchner’s ‘Dadli’, a poignant character study with a gritty and grounded sense of place, and poetically beautiful shots
– no surprise there given Kirchner’s bona fides as a professional cinematographer. You can catch the short, a co-production of his family’s Wadadli Film Studios, on Shabier’s channel on Vimeo.
You can’t talk film in Antigua and Barbuda without talking HaMa, Howard Allen, director, writer, and producer, and Mitzi Allen, producer, honoured by the Antigua and Barbuda Motion Picture Association in 2019 as one of four pioneering women in local film. HaMa’s filmography includes the country’s first locally made features ‘The Sweetest Mango’ and ‘No Seed’. The screenwriter of both, D. Gisele Isaac, speaking of ‘Mango’, recently told karukerament.com, “the story was meant to be a showcase of Antigua & Barbuda’s culture, values, personalities, and physical beauty.” HaMa has continued to produce features, including ‘Diablesse’ (co-written by Jermilla Kirwan). Their films are available on DVD and can be rented online at Studio Anansi.
Shashi Balooja writes, stars in, and directs the short, ‘Ariana’, a touching and still topical tale about a gay couple and a grandmother with dementia, available for viewing on CaribbeanTales-TV.
Francoise Bowen has a tense yet funny domestic drama ‘Changes’ in which a young couple grapples with growing pains. Francoise’s channel indicates that she’s been quite busy with a number of campaigns (e.g. ‘The Story of Four’ video series promoting safe sex in the most sexy way), workshops through her self-titled acting studio, and other creative work.
Lawson Lewis directed two teaser scripts by Brit Elaine Spires in her ‘Amazing Adventures of Maisie and Em’ series co-starring Heather Doram. Both promotional shorts can be found on YouTube at Lewis’ PaletteDesigns TV channel.
I’ll mention some films I haven’t been able to find online because of their significance in the Caribbean film canon (edit – I actually meant to write Antiguan and Barbudan film canon but given how much of our arts is excluded by keepers of the Caribbean canon, I’m going to keep this just so) – Cinque productions’ Melissa Gomez’s feature length documentary ‘Silent Music’, a true and affecting drama of a family of differently-abled people, winner of several awards including Best Documentary winner at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival; Dr. James’ Knight Short Shirt bio pic The Making of the Monarch; and the pioneering work of former calypsonian Roland ‘Mayfield’ Hosier, whose shorts include 1972’s ‘The Fugitive’ and 1978’s ‘Midnight Robbers’. Get the full picture at the screenwriters’ database at wadadlipen.wordpress.com
I am reminded, as I write this, of an interview with recent Oscar winner (for his film ‘JoJo Rabbit’) Taika Waititi. He spoke of the funding he received for his earliest films from the New Zealand Film Commission which, via grants, loans, and equity investments, boosts local film development. There are many more stories that could be adapted here, including, as a caller to the Voice of the People summer read project mentioned, To Shoot Hard Labour.
But filmmaking takes money, as do all the arts; and while talent and stories to tell have never been in short supply, funding has.
The original draft of this article – as with most of these articles – was twice as long but nothing that I trimmed really needs to be re-added. I could list some of the awards won by Antiguan and Barbudan films as they make their way through the festival circuit, but I’m sure to overlook someone and someone will assume it’s deliberate (some of the ones I am aware of are listed on the Wadadli Pen blog in any case). I could mention a 2019 mobile film contest by one of our local telecom providers but I already did that for free over on the other blog; or the two film festivals (the International Film Festival of Antigua and Barbuda and the Wadadli Short Film Festival) we had last year, not to mention the launch of the international feature film ‘Wendy’, a Peter Pan adaptation, filmed in Antigua and co-starring a local boy, but I wasn’t there, though I have watched and liked some of the featured shorts and do have ‘Wendy’ on my list of possible CREATIVE SPACE features but I haven’t seen it yet.
So, instead, since I ended on the New Zealand Film Commission and its investment in independent artists, I’ll share the short film Taika’s conversation led me to and which I’ve been verbally sharing with friends ever since. Enjoy.
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