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Philippe Niang's 'Toussaint L’Ouverture' Wins Big At 2012 Trinidad+Tobago Film Fest (List Of Winners)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 3, 2012 6:07 PM
7 Comments
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On Sunday, September 30, the 2012 Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival held its annual gala awards ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.

Over TT$170,000 (or about $26,000) in cash and other prizes were handed out to films and filmmakers, with Philippe Niang's Toussaint L’Ouverture, the night's big winner, taking home the People’s Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature, as well as the jury prize for Best Actor in a Caribbean Film, Jimmy Jean-Louis, who was on hand to collect his prize.

Sergio Ramírez's Distance, described as "a touching, understated drama about an elderly farmer searching for his kidnapped daughter in the aftermath of the Guatemalan civil war," won the jury award for Best Narrative Feature.

Best Documentary Feature went to the Menelik Shabazz’s musical documentary The Story of Lover’s Rock; Best Short went to Ida Does for Peace: Memories of Anton de Kom, a portrait of the Surinamese writer and anti-colonial activist.

The 2012 trinidad+tobago film festival, which officially ended yesterday, October 2, was the largest edition of the Festival to date, with over 120 films screened - more than half being T&T productions.

The full list of winners follows below, courtesy of the festival. Congrats to them all!

The gala awards ceremony of the ttff/12 took place earlier this evening at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain. Here is a full list of the winners.

Jury Awards: Best Films

Best Narrative Feature
Distance, directed by Sergio Ramirez

Best Documentary Feature
The Story of Lover’s Rock, directed by Menelik Shabazz

Best Short
Peace: Memories of Anton de Kom, directed by Ida Does

Best Caribbean Film by an International Filmmaker
The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, directed by Christy Garland

Special mentions in the best film category:

Best Narrative Feature
Choco, directed by Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza

Best Documentary Feature
Broken Stones, directed by Guetty Felin

Best Short
Awa Brak, directed by Juan Francisco Pardo

Jury Awards: Best Local Films

Best Local Feature
Inward Hunger, directed by Mariel Brown

Best Local Short
Where the Sun Sets, directed by Ryan Latchmansingh

Jury Awards: Acting

Best Actor in a Caribbean Film
Jimmy Jean-Louis, Toussaint L’Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang

Best Actor in a Local Film
Christopher Chin Choy, Where the Sun Sets, directed by Ryan Latchmansingh

Best Actress in a Local Film
Terri Lyons, No Soca, No Life, directed by Kevin Adams

People’s Choice Awards

People’s Choice Award: Narrative Feature
Toussaint L’Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang

People’s Choice Award: Documentary Feature
La Gaita, directed by Janine Fung

People’s Choice Award: Best Short
Buck: The Man Spirit, directed by Steven Taylor

Other Awards

Film in Development Award
Cutlass, Deresha Beresford & Teneille Newallo

WorldView/Tribeca Film Film Institute Pitch Awards
Ryan Khan
Joaquin Ruano
Natalie Wei

RBC Focus: Filmmakers’ Immersion Pitch Award
Michelle Serieux

Film that Best Epitomises Cultural Diversity
Stone Street, directed by Elspeth Kydd

Film Criticism Award
Barbara Jenkins, “Three’s a Crowd”, review of Una Noche, directed by Lucy Mulloy

Film Criticism Special Mentions
Dainia Wright, Renelle White

Best Student, University of the West Indies Film Programme
Dinesh Maharaj

AfroPop/National Black Programming Consortium Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award
Mandisa Pantin

50-Second Film Competition
M Jay Gonzalez

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7 Comments

  • MK | April 14, 2013 2:22 AMReply

    OMG! What a STUPID movie.

    Toussaint is portrayed here as a saintly Uncle Tom-like black, who saves the world from the irrational and animalistic natured masses that made up the Saint Domingue slave population.
    I went into this movie expecting to see a historically plausible, if not correct, account of the revolution and Toussaint's life. I expected Niang's effort to be constrained somewhat by his budget, which (so I thought) would probably show itself through an absence of epic scenes such as large battles. This I did not mind. Great stories have been told with little means.

    Perhaps I should add, that I had been really, really, really looking forward to a movie on Toussaint. My expectations (or better: my hopes) were too high. Hence the big disappointment.

    My first glimpse of the French movie was through this blog, S&A, when us readers were invited to view a non-subtitled excerpt. Not knowing French, I watched the excerpt with growing suspicion. I could tell just from the sequencing of images that the story had gone awry...

    Then, yesterday, I finally pushed in the full DVD, and set myself to watch the full 3 hours, with subtitles this time.

    ....... OM-effing-G.....!!!!
    This film is SO bad.

    Forget the budgetary forced omission of epic, sprawling battles . That is the least of this movie's problems. What stood out for me the most were:
    - obvious historical inaccuracies, such as Toussaint's father dying when Toussaint was still a kid (the inclusion of this fantasied incident, and references to it later in the film, makes you wonder what else Niang has been sucking from his thumb)
    - complete absence of dramatic drive and tension
    - absence of dramatic purpose: slavery and its conditions take a back seat - no reason is given for the uprising of slaves (slavery is portrayed only scantily; the enslaved seem well-nourished, well-dressed (except for a few folks in ragged outfits and bushy hair), healthy and scar-free; not one whipping occurs; the work on plantations seems to be a breeze, so easy and relaxed)
    - abstract characterizations: people are either good or bad, smart or stupid, etc.
    - wooden performances (Jimmy Jean-Louis was good, but the script gives him very little to work with)
    - incredibly simplistic portrayal of racial relationships in a 18th century Caribbean slave colony
    - the culture of the blacks, including their religious basis for revolt, is reduced to mindless/animalistic dance parties
    - overtly didactic narrative: constant 'telling' through unnatural/stage-like dialogue (it feels like watching an underfunded play in an obscure community center)

    This is from the top of my head.
    I could go on, but I recommend everyone to see the movie for themselves. Yes, despite my disliking, I encourage people to see it. Or make an attempt to it (I actually stopped watching after 1 hour, I could not stomach it anymore)

    I can't believe this film has won awards. Are black people really that hungry for resistance-movies that they'll consume even crap like this?
    Sad.

  • MK | April 15, 2013 11:05 AM

    CC,

    Unfortunately, I haven't frequented S&A long enough to utter an informed opinion on the state of reviews, but I think I now what you mean.

    I'm in the Caribbean, mostly involved in the literary scene, and notice the same thing happening here: oftentimes Caribbean writers are granted high praise for material that would have been judged mediocre had they been created by non-Caribbean authors. Likewise, non-Caribbean authors featuring Caribbean settings and themes in their books tend to receive praise, not because of the quality of the portrayal, but for the mere reason that they bothered to include something Caribbean.

    Of course there is the argument that minority communities should encourage the production of artistic material that resources the virtuousness of these communities. But without a defined set of standards, or goals if you like, we run the risk of getting stuck in structural mediocrity, or worse, perpetual sub-standardness. We need to raise our own bars.

    Again, like their African American counterparts, Caribbean writers and filmmakers often claim that they have a harder time selling and promoting their works in comparison to their American and European peers. But many of these artists fail to recognize the weaknesses in their works - I suspect they have become deaf and blind by the constant applause and lack of honest critique from their home base; they have come to believe in their own hype.

    As for this Toussaint movie: people cry foul over its limited release. They argue that the movie is not getting the attention it deserves because of its presumed sensitive subject. (I say 'presumed' because I do believe that a gritty and historically sound movie on slave resistance has the potential of packing theaters in the USA). People should consider that perhaps this Toussaint biopic simply isn't good enough.

  • CC | April 14, 2013 4:49 PM

    MK,

    In reference to "Toussaint" I know there has been several posts mentioning him and films in "development". I don't remember reading one on this film - in particular -- but it's highly possible Tambay inferred that he'd post review.

    Not to belabor the point, but to support my opinion that S&A seems to be hesitant to pen a review as concise, straightforward and unflinching as yours, and they (soft-soaped) and/or praised art house-ish black films a-bit-too-much (or fail to give a review), off the top of my head I am reminded of Mathew Cherry's "The Last Fall" and Russ Parr's "The Undershepherd".

    Don't get me wrong, I love everything about S&A, but I think it's important to point out inconsistencies. To that point, they (not all) have no problem giving a full "negative" voice to movies like "The Help" and Django (movies produced by whites).

    However, to be fair, I can't really say Sergio pulls back the reins, but I can't say that for all the contributors.

  • MK | April 14, 2013 4:03 PM

    CC,
    now that you mention the S&A writers....
    I searched for an S&A review on this movie, but could not find one, whereas I do seem to recall Tambay (or was it Sergio?) announcing his own review of this movie. If I remember correctly, he stated he had just seen the film at a screening in New York, but needed a little more time to write up a balanced article. And then ... silence. Or was it indeed posted, and did I somehow miss it?

  • CC | April 14, 2013 12:11 PM

    "Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different." MLK

    So thank you MK, I needed to read this "courageous" review because I had lost that loving feeling. I am suggesting that in my opinion S&A's writers have lost me when it comes to reviews of "black" films. They seem to be hesitant to pen a review as concise, straightforward and unflinching as yours.

    Granted, they have no problem dropping salt on Tyler Perry, but many, shall we say "art house" or indie black films are given a pass (soft-soaped) and/or praised a-bit-too-much.

    " Are black people really that hungry for resistance-movies that they'll consume even crap like this?"

    Hmmmm... that's certainly something to think about - and discuss.

  • Judy | October 4, 2012 2:14 PMReply

    Wow, another movie that probably will not be shown in America. I would LOVE to see this since it is about a great man and one of my heroes. But with America's history, it most likely will not be shown here.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 3, 2012 7:05 PMReply

    A film like this should SWEEP the Caribbean. lol

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