Filmmaker Yao Ramesar says a renaissance is taking place among the younger generation of film-makers.
He made this comment while delivering a film lecture at the Learning Resource Centre, St Augustine, on Monday night. The lecture was held in conjunction with the University of the West Indies and the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence. Its theme was The Story Made Light: Yao Ramesar and the Language of Caribbean Film. Ramesar was the recipient of the inaugural 2006 Caribbean awards. He said: “This new generation will reclaim it. It is about the Caribbean… Jamaica, Suriname and Barbados. It is the golden age. “A whole renaissance is taking place. The writers and musicians can come to that place. The Caribbean is bursting at the seams with cultural production.” He made reference to Asha Lovelace and her contribution to film-making.
Ramesar also said T&T would seize the opportunity to build a knowledge-based economy. He said: “It is important to build a knowledge-based economy. I hope it will be cleared up for the new generation of film-makers. Oil and gas is finite.” Ramesar said change was inevitable. He was keenly aware that film would be replaced by digital technology. “I remember people would say “Boy, you shooting film like it going out of style. I knew digital would supplant film. Technology drives film form,” he said. But while he noted youth don’t know what a sapodilla fruit or a cassette was “they will not know about feeling film and shooting it.”
Ramesar also urged people interested in film to listen to the stories told to them by their seniors. Storytelling and the impetus on detail were necessary for a successful film. He also urged people — especially those interested in film — to think critically and innovate. Ramesar said: “Three hundred Carnivals have sprung from T&T Carnival. Yet, we are 138th in the world when it comes to innovation. This is the land that created the steelband — the only instrument in the 21st century.”
Sunlight in Sista God
Apart from the spoken word, Ramesar showed snatches of Sista God. It was dedicated to the memory of his father — Esmond Ramesar. He boasted he made use of the sunlight. “The Caribbean. I made use of natural sunlight… centrifrugal. It is about photographia (writing with the light). I live with the colour of the Caribbean sun,” said Ramesar. The film also included the work of songstress Ella Andall, actor Michael Cherrie and Evelyn Caesar-Munroe. Familiar haunts, like Maracas waterfall and the depressed community of Bangladesh, in St Joseph, were featured. The film addresses themes like love, alienation in the society and rebirth. Images of traditional mas characters, like bats, Midnight Robbers and Paramin Blue Devils, are featured.
The din emanating from the devils created quite a stir. “Is hell,” volunteered Ramesar. He is working on the the sequel Sista God 2 — featuring albino Crystal Felix. Ramesar incorporated an image of the leatherback turtle and addresses issues surrounding the environment. At the lecture, it was announced that ANSA McAL foundation had donated a substantial sum to UWI’s journalism programme. Among those who addressed the participants were Prof Funso Aiyejina, UWI principal Prof Clement Sankat and Prof Patricia Mohammed, campus co-ordinator. They also were addressed by Maria Neilson, programme director Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence and Dr Raymond Ramcharitar, corporate communications manager Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence.
Ghanian-born Ramesar is completing the direction of his latest feature film Stranger In Paradise. The film is a universal story about migration, globalism and world culture. He is also working on SISTAGOD11, now Titled Her Second Coming. Felix is a person living with albinism whose condition makes her sensitive to sunlight. In 2009, he co-founded the Caribbean Travelling Film School, which aims to incubate film-making talent. His first feature SistaGod, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival became the first T&T feature to gain official selection at a major film festival.