Consumed Q&A - Peter Sagnia

Peter Sagnia - director of ‪the hit St. Maarten film "‎Consumed" - spoke live from the Caribbean for the Q&A discussion after the London screening of his film.

After enjoying an evening of films from St. Maarten, Jamaica and Barbados the audience on Saturday 8th August at the London 2015 ‪#‎CaribbeanSummerSeason‬ of films was treated to direct interaction with Peter Sagnia via a video link to the Caribbean island of St. Croix where he currently lives.

The films that night were Consumed, Coast and Abiola (‪#‎Abi4Prez‬) - further info here 

Peter told the audience that he was originally from the UK and had been planning to move to Trinidad (where his mother is from) but ended up in St. Maarten around 12 years ago and lived there producing theatre plays. It was this experience that led him to move into making his first feature film "Consumed" using the same actors that had been in his plays. Judging by the positive comments from the audience, it seems like he made the right choice!

 

Peter also spoke about the struggles of finding funding and finance and the difficulties of operating as a one-person outfit carrying out a multiplicity of different roles himself. What he said he really needed was to have someone to spend time securing sponsorship from commercial companies so that more resources could go into improving the technical quality of the films.

The audience agreed that the quality of the script and the storyline were high but wondered if benefits on the production side could be obtained by operating more at a Caribbean regional level (to achieve economies of scale) rather than at an individual island level. Peter said he fully agreed and had spoken to other directors from other parts of the Caribbean (like Rommel Hall, the director of "Keeping Up With The Joneses" in Barbados) but it would still take some time to achieve that goal.

Peter has now moved from the Dutch colony of St. Maarten to the USA colony of St. Croix (Virgin Islands) and noted that, when he put out his casting call for his new film "That Which Is Needful", almost all of the actors that responded were from the USA mainland (but living in St. Croix).

For now, peter has ruled out doing a sequel to "Consumed" but everyone wished him all the best for his new film.

The London 2015 Caribbean Summer Season of films continues on Saturday evenings at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham until 29th August (Notting Hill Carnival weekend).

More info here

Read more: Consumed Q&A - Peter Sagnia

Sweetest Mango Q&A - Howard & Mitzi Allen and Julie Hewlett

Following an evening of Caribbean films at London's Bernie Grant Arts Centre, the audience got a further treat with a great Q&A discussion with the ?HAMA Films? production company (Howard and Mitzi Allen) and actress Julie Hewlett live from Antigua following the première of their romantic comedy "?Sweetest Mango".

The third night of the London ?#?CaribbeanSummerSeason? of films featured the European première of the Caribbean romance "Sweetest Mango" (25 July). The hit film from Antigua is based on the true-life story of Mitzi and Howard Allen who, through their company HAMA Films, also produced and directed the movie.

The film also included UK actress Julie Hewlett (Eastenders, The Bill) elmofed.com and all three (Mitzi, Howard and Julie) joined the London audience, live by video link from Antigua, for the Question & Answer session after the screening.

Mitzi and Howard had previously sent out a video invitation to London to attend the screening (see it here).

The audience loved the portrayal of love and romance in the Caribbean and (as is often commented on in HAMA's other film "The Skin") enjoyed the positive representation of relationships between men and women. The audience was also thrilled to hear how Howard and Mitzi's real life story in Antigua intertwined with the on-screen tale and how they kept the truth of the script a "secret" for as long as possible!

In a discussion that was both entertaining and informative, Mitzi, Howard and Julie spoke anagazawe.com about the professional and financial challenges of film-making in Antigua and how they have addressed it by not building in Hollywood-style costs but by minimising overheads and ensuring that monetary returns can be met through local businesses and audiences, they also spoke about how recognition is (slowly) building that film and television are important exporters of culture, about the different outcomes and experiences that people worldblog.net have when they travel "back home" for love, the expectations on women to "marry up", how some traditions hold back women's independence, how the diaspora is treated when they return and finding the balance between being modern efficient societies and retaining a sense of "Caribbeanness".

Howard and Mitzi's next project is a drama called "Deep Blue" about a marine biologist that helps a fishing village threatened by environmental/climate change (as a topical issue affecting Antigua & Barbuda). The film is expected to be released in summer 2016.

Julie also stars in "Deep Blue" and frequently travels back to the UK where she is available for British-based acting projects.

By coincidence, it was also Howard and Mitzi's 23rd wedding anniversary and the audience wished them every blessing for another 23 more!

The audience also enjoyed short films from Barbados (an episode from the schoolgirl mini-series "Abiola") and Guyana (an interesting look at familial abuse "Rebecca's Story").

The #CaribbeanSummerSeason for 2015 continues every Saturday evening (7pm) until Carnival weekend at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. Details at www.sankofa-tv.co.uk 

Read more: Sweetest Mango Q&A - Howard & Mitzi Allen and Julie Hewlett

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Elza Q&A - Mariette Monpierre

GREAT Q&A WITH “ELZA” DIRECTOR MARIETTE MONPIERRE

An enthusiastic audience enjoyed the second night of the Caribbean Summer Season of films at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London and were treated to an evening with a roller-coaster of emotions on Saturday 18th July 2015.

From the existential challenges of the short film “Missed” (Jamaica) and the supernatural horror of “Naufrago” (Cuba) to the family anguish and rejection of the feature film “Le Bonheur D’Elza” (Guadeloupe).

And, of course, appreciating Caribbean films in three different languages (English, Spanish and French) – with subtitles of course!

But capping it off on a high note was the Q&A discussion with the director of “Elza”, Mariette Monpierre!

Mariette joined the discussion via a live video link from the USA (where she currently lives) and was full of verve and energy and eager to respond to the many questions from the audience.

Seeing her face appear on the screen, the audience immediately recognised Mariette also as playing the mother of the main character. But what stunned those sitting in the boutique cinema was that the story in the film was based on Mariette’s own life story (with a few fictional elements for dramatic effect) and that the character of Elza was Mariette’s own younger self!

In replying to questions, Mariette spoke of the vital role that fathers play in lives of their daughters and how crucial role-modelling and words of affection can be.

She also reflected how Guadeloupe, like many other countries (especially those with histories of slavery and colonialism), not only has a rigid hierarchy based on race but also has a hierarchy based on colour as so succinctly expressed in her film.

Mariette spoke passionately about both the importance of telling our stories and the challenges of funding films where the financial resources are in the hands of others. But she also emphasised that part of the responsibility lay with the community in the general public who had to demonstrate recognition of and support for story-telling from the Caribbean by getting everyone they know to attend Caribbean film screenings to show not only that it is a legitimate genre but that it is also good business.

The convivial Mariette Monpierre, in between making adverts for retail businesses as her day job, is developing her second feature film and has said that she welcomes any support via her website www.elzathemovie.com or email address at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For details of other films in the 2015 #CaribbeanSummerSeason see www.sankofa-tv.co.uk

Read more: Elza Q&A - Mariette Monpierre

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