Saturday 27th September, 2008


Bright future for T&T film

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Suzanne Bhagan

I am fed up of some elders who insist on spouting nonsense like, “Young people today good for nutting!” This year’s Secondary Schools’ Short Film Competition dismisses that tired label.

Now in its fourth year, the competition, a self styled “positive outlet for creativity,” encouraged 22 group entries from 18 secondary schools.

From conflict to resolution in the spate of five minutes, the three winning entries explored this year’s theme, Dispelling the Stereotypes.

Woodbrook Government Secondary placed first with its film, Cant (Conspire against negative thinking.)

Second place went to past winners, San Juan Secondary Comprehensive with Painted Black, and Holy Faith Convent, Couva, who copped third place with their entry, Erasing the Limits of the Mind.

Rammed in the middle of an audience of rambunctious students, I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed all the entries presented.

Although many of films drew full bellied laughs from the audience who smirked at the basic camera technique and improvised special effects, all the entries interpreted the theme in their own individual way.

Cant, the cleverly titled film by HollyWoodbrook Productions, starts with a street scene in Laventille with “fellahs liming on de block.”

The protagonist aspires to be a politician. His own mother deflates his dream, telling him to get a “real wuk with Cepep.”

Although everyone around him seem to conspire for his failure, he succeeds four years later, when he is sworn in at the Red House.

Minister of Social Development, Amery Browne, even makes a cameo appearance, welcoming the new MP. At certain points, the sound quality dipped but with $10,000 in audio visual equipment, I am sure this year’s winners will be well placed to improve their art for next year.

San Juan Secondary Comprehensive’s entry, Painted Black, starts with the main character, Amanda, class valedictorian, on the way to her graduation ceremony.

The scene flashes back five years earlier. Amanda’s mother slaps her (so hard you can see her handprint —a special effect which drew appreciative whoops from the audience) because her daughter passed for a “wutless” secondary school.

Although initially discouraged, Amanda resolves to “go book and come out better than people like you (prestige school attendees).”

Erasing the Limits of the Mind by Holy Faith Convent, Couva students starts with a long cricket scene, with vintage kaiso playing in the background. The plot follows a stereotypical line when someone hits the ball in some old woman’s yard.

New girl is instructed to retrieve it. She meets the “soucouyant” who relates her tragic story.

A microphone boom peeked in one of the scenes, much to the eagle eyed audience’s delight.

Young filmmakers show great potential

Overall, their acting was okay, more to generate laughs than tears.

Films from ASJA Girls’ College and Bishop Anstey High School both earned nods from the judges for merit.

The latter caused an eruption of screams from the audience, predominantly composed of members of the Bishop’s species.

Dat Bishop girl, shot in a documentary style, detailed the filmmaker going undercover to observe the “aggressive” Bishop girl.

ASJA Girls’ very topical Jihad, the Muslim Struggle, examined the prejudice Muslims today suffer, especially in international airports.

Together with the Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival, the future for the arts in T&T remains bright.

Although many of the films proposed idealistic solutions to current issues adolescents face, they should be praised for sacrificing their July/August vacation to produces these pieces.

Overall, the talent and creativity of our young filmmakers is raw, but pregnant with great potential.

With the right guidance and mentoring, these youngsters can explore different film techniques and document the untold stories of their generation and the people of T&T.

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