By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz August 11, 2014 at 2:00PM
As Executive Director of ttff, the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival which he started eight years ago, Bruce Paddington saw it develop from showing 36 movies to showing more than 100. They use 2 main venues and several smaller ones. The caliber of films has improved as more filmmakers are applying and because the ttff team works twelve months a year, they can curate better films. They have shown "Beasts of the Southern Wild" with Benh Zeitlin and his sister attending along with his parents who are cultural activists and are in fact now making a documentary on the music of the Caribbean, the African film "La Pirogue" from Senegal, and other notable films.
The films have reached the level of “No" from Chile and "Gloria" which showed there before it opened the Havana Film Festival. "Half of the Yellow Sun" from Nigeria opened their festival last year just weeks after it played in the Toronto International Film Festival. Producer Andrea Calderwood attended, introduced the film and ran a workshop. The Panorama section is becoming more international and yet the festival itself prides itself on the Caribbean character of the films and of their heritage which includes African, Indian, Latino and Anglo citizens. It is the Number One Festival of the Caribbean. Next year it will launch the first Caribbean Film Market.
Bruce is also a filmmaker in his own right as well.
When he produced and directed " Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution", a film about the Grenada Revolution and the circumstances surrounding the execution of Maurice Bishop and his colleagues, he was acting on a burning desire to create a comprehensive record of the key events of the revolution, having been impressed with what he saw on his visit to the island during the revolutionary period. But he hadn’t catered for the overwhelming response that the film has received to date. Having been screened in ten countries in only nine months, "Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution", which is often followed by a post-screening discussion, has generated a buzz of activity worldwide, among analysts of the Grenada revolution, filmmakers and of course the Grenadian diaspora.
The fact that the documentary feature was made and released almost exactly thirty years after the revolution might also have something to do with it; there is the distance of historical perspective, but there are also still enough people around who lived it and who remember the raw details of those events that had such an impact on the region’s politics.
And those who are old enough to remember are not the only ones who flock to "Forward Ever”. “What I also find compelling is the interest that young people – people who might not have even been born when the revolution took place – have in the film,” said Paddington. “Some of them had older relatives involved, others are just curious about Caribbean history. Either way, it’s extremely gratifying to see that level of interest all around; it means that we did something very right with the production.”
The film has also gained critical acclaim. In St. Lucia, the veteran journalist Earl Bousquet praised the film as a work of art that "allows images to tell stories, accompanying still photos with explanatory narratives while allowing those who were there to tell their unvarnished stories." Les Slater of Caribbean Life News believes "a huge debt is owed to the filmmaker Bruce Paddington for the very important document he assembled for the Caribbean archives." While John Green of the Morning Star newspaper in the United Kingdom argues, "Paddington's documentary is a gripping and revealing account of the Grenada revolution as never seen before."
This year, the film has been screened in London at the prestigious British Library and at the British Film Institute on Southbank as part of its African Odysseys program. It made its New York City debut in June, with former head of the Transport Workers Union, Roger Toussaint, a Trinidadian, with the Caribbean Awareness group, as a collaborator. Also supporting the film was Michelle Materre, the director of Creatively Speaking, an organization which highlights important films which feature people of colour and their histories. It was screened at the Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, The Maysles Theatre Harlem and DCTVNY in Soho, and then went on to the Baobab Center in Rochester. These screenings were sandwiched in between sold out screenings in Jamaica, St. Kitts, St Lucia and Barbados that were organized by the UWI Open Campus network; so the film’s busy schedule continues. The film has now been released on DVD for the US market at grenadamarket.com and is due to be released by the Third World Newsreel distribution company. The DVD will soon be released in Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
The film received funding from - The University of the West Indies (funding for the research), Fondashon Bon Intenshon in Curacao, Flow (Columbus Communications) Trinidad, and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (for the marketing and distribution).
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