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….
Play the Devil
Play the Devil (Maria Govan/ 2015/ Trinidad & Tobago-The Bahamas-USA/ Drama-LGBT-Thriller/ 90 mins/ English/ Rated 18+) 6.15pm, Screen 8, MovieTowne, POS Q+A.
Maria Govan’s first feature film, Rain, was a contender for the first jury prize ever awarded by the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival; her second film could easily go this year’s distance, if it doesn’t win by a knockout.
The most original movie to come out of Trinidad & Tobago, probably ever, Play the Devil takes startlingly new looks at what we have grown accustomed to as seeing as old; the ferocity of the blue devils of Paramin, e.g, is captured, in this fiction film, with a more frightening reality than ever before, even including Alex de Verteuil’s excellent documentary Jab; again, in Devil, the steamy pivotal love story takes place between two men; and the ultra-macho posturing glamourized in even the best local films so far – God Loves the Fighter comes prominently to mind – is rendered, in Play the Devil, as the simple straightforward bigotry it is. (You know how deeply Jamaican-style homo-hatred has crept into what used to be tolerant and forgiving mainstream Trinidadian society when the actors playing the lead roles feel pressured to declare, in newspaper interviews, their real life heterosexuality.)
The major criticism of the film – that one or at most two of the amateur actors are momentarily a little wooden – seems minor against the film’s strengths, particularly when both male leads are excellent. But it is in its most Trinidadian moment that the film becomes universal – and Govan achieves that singular moment without a fraction of the budget Sam Mendes had to make Mexico’s Day of the Dead look so spectacular in the opening sequences of Spectre. There may be a film clip of blue devils that inspires more awe while conveying the meat of a fiction film somewhere in world cinema, but we just haven’t seen it. One suspects that even the Trinidadian stickfighting, e.g., that, on screen, unfailingly becomes unimaginably dull, would, in Govan’s hands, have the audience covering their heads and trembling. Easily the best local film since God Loves the Fighter, and, truth be told, a far more important one, Play the Devil uncovers the real, deep psychic horror underlying a play-play society obsessed with superficial beauty. Mama, this is mas!
Also consider: Lamb, 10.30am, MovieTowne POS; Diva: Enemy of the People, 1.00pm MovieTowne POS + 6pm; Akimbo Boutique, Arima; *Antes Que Cante El Gallo (Before the Rooster Crows), 6pm MovieTowne POS + 27 September, 3.30pm MovieTowne POS;
El Acompanante, 8.30pm;
*Make Mine Country, 1pm MovieTowne Tobago;
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, 6pm MovieTowne Tobago.