FRIDAY, JAN. 27: Chewstick’s Bakatown Short Film Festival got off to a successful start on Thursday evening with the screening of five locally made films.
Each film was introduced by Chewstick’s executive director Gavin Smith and despite the festival starting more than half an hour late, the films ran seamlessly throughout.
After the screenings there was a lively, if a little prolonged discussion with the filmmakers chaired by Keith Caesar — host of CITV’s Filmmaker’s Corner.
The film festival continues though tonight at the Neo Griot Lounge at 28 Elliott Street and Saturday night at Liberty Theatre.
The first film was The Faeries of Green Lochan by Scott Neil. It began with a surprisingly professional looking computer animation of a fairy following an owl through a mountainous land. While the background was pretty basic, just textured green hills, the fairy and her friends were beautifully designed. About half way through the film we were transported to a real-life scene when Neil himself turns up with his guitar and meets a lady in a black cape. He told her how he always came there to play music in the hope that he might catch a glimpse of a fairy.
The production values took a bit of a nosedive at this point — the sound was mixed badly with the rest of the film and acting a little wooden in parts. But there was a sweet twist to the tale. The Faeries of Green Lochan was simple and magical and probably a sweet thing for a child to watch before bedtime.
Next up was Dana ‘Zhyon’ Selassie’s music video for local artist Live Wires (Mitchell Trott). Set to the lively Melanin Man, it featured some typical reggae music video scenes like Live Wires dressed all in white singing on a beach. But there were some original-looking scenes in this video too — there were shots of him at night time, at dusk with a backdrop of boats in a harbour, him strutting through Hamilton and, my personal favourite, shots of him dressed up to the nines in a suits and tap dancing in a club. It’s Live Wires trademark dance but it was cleverly edited in to the film to coincide with a fast snare synth sound. The film made Bermuda look beautiful — the standard of the film by this budding filmmaker appeared professional.
Numerous members of the audience were fascinated by the next screening which was just an excerpt from Milton Raposo’s full-length feature Fabric — History of the Portuguese in Bermuda.
It gave a rare glimpse of the traditions and festivities of the Portuguese revealing how closely culture and community are tied together.
We were given an insight into the Senhor Santo Cristo Dos Milagres Festa which is celebrated in Bermuda five weeks after Easter. Many in the audience had never seen the lavish flower displays that stretch the length of streets, or the respectful customs such as scholars laying down their cloaks before a eulogy of a suffering Christ. Many approached Raposo and asked him how they can find out more about the film but Raposo is in no rush — this film is a mammoth task that will take as long as it takes.
Perhaps Raposo’s own Portuguese roots helped him to fade into the background while filming as there are plenty of intimate close up shots of Portuguese people taking pride in their culture.
In terms of production standards I would say this film was probably the most professional of them all — it’s certainly worthy of being shown on any national network.
Next up was another music video this time by Asha Luwig. Smith introduced the artist featured in the video — Bento — as having the potential to become the next Collie Buddz.
Rise Up was, again, shot in Bermuda and included some beautiful sepia shots of Dockyard and the clock tower. It was a pretty simple format of Bento singing, shot from various angles — in front of a wall, then with a courtyard and palm trees behind him and finally on some steps with his friends. Filming and editing standards were high. The one thing that irked me a little was the singers smoking cigarettes on the steps — there wasn’t much point to it and made it look a little tacky.
Finally was the longest film of the evening, a half an hour documentary about a school trip by Bermudian students to Africa. The African Connection: Memoirs of Our Journey Home, the second film by Dana ‘Zhyon’ Selassie was entertaining and at times poignant. The CedarBridge students’ trip to Senegal gave them a deep insight into how slaves lived, gave them an opportunity to meet people with completely different customs and traditions and to take in the natural beauty of the land.
The film was very much shot in a video diary style so production values were relatively low. That was just its style. The real value was in the content — the looks on the children’s faces when they stood in the doorway of no return at Goree Island from where slaves were sent never to return to their homeland, or the excitement mixed with disgust at seeing live cattle slaughtered. The film was packed with humour, mainly from the comments from the children and their expressions of complete awe.
One of the teachers gave a heart felt account of the anger he felt when he saw a ball and chain that used to be attached to a slave. He found himself crying as the tour guide described its use.
The film ended on a very positive note when the group was accepted into a Mauritanian community to share tea and stories. The kids all began integrating with each other and began to realize that they were not all that different after all.