Stranded on a not so deserted island - "Trinidad" and Tobago Film Festival

I live on an island. A small island. But even on a small island, one can feel a chasm between spaces. If you live past the lighthouse as we say here in Trinidad, or really, NOT in or near the capital city of Port of Spain, then salt for you.

The differences between the North and the South of the island are very real. On the one hand, Southerners are known for their hospitality - often deemed as warmer, friendlier and more welcoming than the Northerners. I will not fight that. South is seen as more "country" which I have no problem with, when compared to the smoggy, smokiness I encounter over Port of Spain on my drive in to the city daily. But if you are looking for a variety of things to do, then you will note the mass exodus up the highway as bored Southerners hit the asphalt for the "bright lights" of Port of Spain. This is not to say that there are not things to do in South and Central but we are talking about variety now. I often do not make the trip into the capital for various reasons - too tired, it too far, I have no designated driver, so what's the point. Yet, if the draw is good enough, or the friends special enough, I will make the effort so it is not as if I am dying to be in the capital every weekend.

However, there are things that just should not be either. The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival is on and this is a great thing. I fully subscribe to this - to getting people involved and invested in our artform, our culture, our talent as a people, as a region. I feel as though every man, woman and child should be exposed to this and should be part of this and be proud of this.

Yet, there is not a single screening in the south of the island, or at the very least, in Central Trinidad. I am not casting any blame on anyone because there could be a variety of reasons. I, Southerner, recognise that not all keys fit in the same lock. Maybe there was not enough buy-in or support, from facilitators or the local communities. I do not know. Maybe it was funding. Bad timing. But the point is, I am still a bit rancid about it, for yet again,  I feel like I am stranded on a not so deserted island where I am obliged to go too far, too many times to enjoy interesting moments on this rock. Most of the screenings are free so where would the loss of earnings be if I was the only person in the place watching a movie? And I am 100% sure that I am not the only one who would have patronised as I know there has to be a similar desire for other varieties of entertainment on a wider scale across the Naparima plains and beyond. I would personally like a reason as to why this is the "North Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival" - whether it is greedy businessmen trying to dig out the TTFF organisers' eyes, not wanting to donate a venue or whatever. Maybe there are plans to have screenings later in the year in South and Central. I do not know. I would like to know though.

So when someone asked me if I was going to the festival, I said no. I don't feel I have the energy or want to make that effort to drive to one area for what is being dubbed a "national" film festival. Maybe "national" means once we include Tobago, but what about the rest of us? However, I do sincerely encourage those who can, to support our film festival, support local talent - support what is ours. In much the same way we can ram out the Stadium when dancehall and hip hop artistes come to the island, we should support local culture. I hope next year we can have some opportunities here in South and Central to be more involved.

For more info on screenings and on the TTFF, click here

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