Chantal & I’s second day at TTFF was a little work, a little play, then a little more work that felt a lot like play. We met up at the Hyatt to access the wifi (I should get a t-shirt that says ‘What’s the wifi password?‘) and get some work done.
As we worked an older gentlemen, spying our festival credentials, asked if we were here for the festival and in what capacity. Imagine my surprise when the gentlemen turned out to be TTFF founder and director Dr. Bruce Paddington. We chatted about how TTFF came to be, the abundance of talent in the region and the future of the festival. Dr. Paddington, also a lecturer in film at the University of the West Indies, is passionate about Caribbean film. The efforts he made over the years to educate, encourage and foster the region’s film industry has been phenomenal.
While we chatted, Romola Lucas co-founder of the Caribbean Film Academy came by to introduce us to Miquel Galofré, the filmmaker behind the award winning documentary Art Connect and the moving short film, screening later in the week, My Father’s Land. Born in Barcelona, Spain, Miquel has relocated to the Caribbean and through his company T&T Rocks, creates films that highlight the beauty of the island in particular and the Caribbean overall.
We then decided to take a break. Though we expected it to be hot in Trinidad, we didn’t quite expect THIS level of heat. The air was thick, the sun harsh and the occasional breeze nothing more than a cruel tease. So what’s a girl to do in a situation like this? Crash the hotel pool of course! We closed our laptops and made our way to this amazing space:
The break was much needed as Chantal was still dealing with jet lag and I was about to melt from the heat.
But there is no rest for the weary. After a few laps we ran home to get ready for the big event of the night: the world premiere of the Machel Montano musical drama Bazodee! In his first acting role, Machel, the 2015 international power soca monarch, plays Lee, a down on his luck soca singer, who falls for Anita (UK actress Natalie Perera). Unfortunately for Lee, Anita is engaged to Bharat (model/actor Staz Nair – lawd that boy look good!). When Bharat’s evil little brother Nikhil (played by Valmike Rampersad) sees the sparks flying between Lee and Anita, he makes it his mission to not only expose Anita’s dalliance but to bring the entire family down.
After a cocktail party that introduced the cast to the beat of the tassa drum and sweet pan music, we made our way to the theater for the screening. The packed house was greeted by the film’s director Todd Kessler (co-creator of the children’s show Blue’s Clues), producers Ancil McKain and Claire Ince of Indiepelago Films and Machel himself, among others.
The film was a light-hearted and fun tale that was, as expected, filled with great musical performances. Set against the backdrop of Trinidad’s carnival there were also nods to Bollywood woven throughout. From the booming voice of legendary Bollywood actor Kebir Bedi (playing Anita’s father Ram) to the dance sequence that ends the film, it was clear that the film was trying to reach an audience as diverse as the people of the region.
The evening ended at the nightclub Aria, where myself, Chantal and Guardian editor Franka Phillip hit the dancefloor hard. It seemed everyone else was determined to be cute and stush, holding up the walls and sipping thier drinks. That is until Machel hit the stage. Folks then proceeded to lose their damn minds as he ran through both old and new chunes for much longer than the ‘short set’ we were promised. It was an epic end to the night.
*photos & video courtesy of AlysiaSimone & Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival