The 2016 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival
Film writer, BC Pires, will be picking a Film of the Day every day. Pires sat on the first TT Film Fest Jury and wrote the Judge’s Report and has been the Youth Jury’s mentor since its inception in 2014. A different film will be picked every day, and other worthwhile films mentioned. Because of the limitations of programming schedules, the film of the day may not necessarily be the “best” one. Films with an * have been or will be daily picks.
The 2016 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival runs from 20-27th September. You can view the full festival calendar here
BC Pires has been writing about film from an informed lay perspective since March 1988. He served on the first Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival jury in 2009 and wrote the Jury’s Report.
And Today’s Film Pick is….
The Cutlass (Darisha Beresford/ 2016/ Trinidad & Tobago/ Adventure-Crime-Drama-Thriller/ 106 mins/ English/ Rated 16+) 6pm Screen 8, MovieTowne, Port of Spain Q+A.
The second-strongest Trinidad & Tobago fiction narrative feature (after Play the Devil) of this year’s festival, The Cutlass has a great deal going for it. First, its cast includes genuine professionals – Arnold Goindhan paid his dues and got his chops on Trinidadian stages (as did Conrad Parris), Kirk Baltz (most famous as the tortured police officer in Quentin Tarantino’s debut, Reservoir Dogs) has been a working actor since the 80s, and the female lead, Rebecca Foster Ferreira, is strong in her lead debut. Second, the amateur or near-amateur actors all range between very good and good enough. Third, the script is tight, apart from perhaps one major weakness – the possible failure to completely explain the criminal’s character, and even that Goindhan finesses easily – and a handful of flat moments (of which only one – the strained observation about why writers write – is cringeworthy). And, fourth, its cinematography is spectacular. Cutlass was partly funded through various state entities and it’s difficult to recall an artistic work that has packed so great an advertising punch for Trinidad & Tobago: remove the violent crime at the heart of the plot and you are left with an 105-minute video of Trinidadian natural beauty. The stark contrast between the stunning beauty of the landscape and the ugly reality most people face in Trinidad is the meat of the film: few Trinidadian families have been left unaffected by the Trinidadian lawlessness and contempt for human life and dignity. It’s a feather in the cap of the director – and the scriptwriter and cast – that the dark side is never obscured. A good story, well told, and a joy to look at, even if a misery to witness.
Also consider: *Bitter Coffee, 3.30pm Screen 1; The Family Reyna, 8.30pm Screen 1; Esteban, 8pm MT Tobago.