It was another proud and patriotic weekend here in Switzerland, after witnessing the amazing and sold out performance of Calypso Rose in Geneva, we now had the first film from Trinidad and Tobago to be shown at the Festival International de Films de Fribourg (FIFF) in Fribourg Switzerland. This was a great opportunity not only for me to see the film for the first time (Since I was not in Trinidad at the time of showing) but for people of the region to get to know more about our island. I believe that Green Days by the River was a great choice due to the amazing scenery, music and relatable storyline. Some may say that it starts off slow, I believe the direction was needed to build the story, you get to enjoy the visuals, feel the story and the rhythm of the film. Michael Mooleedhar the director of this his first feature film based on the novel by Michael Anthony and set in the 1950s has really done this story justice. I was also impressed with the attention to detail with regards to keeping it at the time it was intended and the amazing acting from breakout actor Sudai Tafari. As a Trinidadian living now in Switzerland more opportunities like this need to be activated, the creative industries is one of our strongest export and with it, we would be able to transport foreigners to a place they would now want to visit. See below our Q&A with the director along with some images from FIFF.
1) What was your feedback for the first screening of your film Green Days By The River in Switzerland?
The feedback thus far has been amazing people keep stopping me and telling me that they saw the film and how much they loved the scenery and the music. The audience has never seen a film like this and is a much-needed breath of fresh air for them. I think it brings the warmth as it is still cold. I think they are all interested in visiting Trinidad now. I don’t think I could have asked for a better response, considering I was very concerned they wouldn’t understand the film. But the universal themes can captivate any audience. Luckily for us, the film has French in the dialect used so it offers a familiar feel to the Swiss.
2) What does it mean to you when places like Switzerland is showing your film?
It is very important for us an such a compliment for us to be recognized by being the first film from Trinidad and Tobago to be played in Switzerland. We are representing Trinidad and Tobago and showing new spaces what our country is like. The first question asked is, can we see more what other films exist and if there is a film industry. It is the new voice in the world so very exciting. The film needs to find international audiences as we are on the journey of distributing the film. We would like to find a distributor in Europe. Film Festivals help to build an audience and also create a buzz from which other film festivals sometimes may invite you. I have found that this festival has inspired me in a unique way, that being that there are places that truly celebrate independent foreign art cinema and Fribourg International Film Festival is one of those. I have seen movies from around the world. Which has reminded me that what we do is appreciated and very important.
3) What can you say about the importance of representing Trinidad and Tobago through the creative industries?
Trinidad and Tobago is a bursting with talent, from music to Fashion to cinema. It is important the world know this, it creates opportunities for us and opens doors for other Caribbean people. It creates interest and people have a unique experience to get a taste of Trinidad and Tobago / Caribbean when they watch the movie and it makes them interested in the space and they may come for Carnival or to visit. Our society is such a multicultural one that on the screen there is always interest as to how people live together. Trinidad and Tobago want to build a film industry and this is where it starts by finding an audience for it.
4) Where do you plan to take the film next?
We are working towards our diaspora releases, London, NYC and Toronto those are the markets we would like to enter. We feel those are the spaces we need to get the film too.
5) What is the future of the film industry in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean?
The future is very bright, there are many filmmakers and if they do their jobs well there will be many movies to come. Finances are always an issue so it may take a longer time to make a film. But I think this is only the start and hopefully, we have helped to open the door and inspire the new artist and been a statement that it can be done.
6) Tell us more about the producer and the cinematographer?
The producer of the film is Christian James, we first met in film school University of the West Indies. We were discussing working together and Green Days by the River is a direct result of this. We have known each other for a few years as he went on to do his masters in producing and upon returning to Trinidad we decided to work together. Andressa Cor the cinematographer of the film is from Brazil and we had one Skype conversation and I told her a needed someone who could help me make a poetic film. After this once conversation she was on a plane to Trinidad and Tobago. I thought she was very brave and she did an amazing job. One interesting thing to note is that we are both born the exact same day August 3rd 1985.