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All day Film screening at First Garifuna Conference

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One of the exciting aspects of the First International Garifuna Conference to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March 2012 will be the screening of Films which focus on the Garifuna Heritage and Culture.{{more}} In this article, we present the highlights of the various Films/Documentaries that will be shown as well as presenting some information on the videographers, producers and documentalists involved in some of this work. The films will be screened all day on Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

The Garifuna Heritage and culture continues to attract the attention of many persons worldwide. As a result, both professional and amateur filmmakers have sought to capture various elements of the culture such as the music, food, dance, history and spirituality on film. With the increasing popularity of high quality home video cameras, many Garifuna persons are themselves getting involved in developing films in which they seek to examine their culture in various ways. The access to the internet, especially such websites as Youtube, has also supported this surge in the number of home videos about the Garifuna Heritage that are now circulating in cyberspace.

In conceptualizing and organizing the Conference, we felt it was extremely important to identify and focus on some of the mechanisms by which the Garifuna Heritage is now transmitted in today’s virtual world. These include films, documentaries and social media. These mechanisms are becoming increasingly important, given the fact that Garifuna people continue to be mobile, continue to migrate from their traditional home bases, and also given the fact that the culture is perceived to be under threat from competing influences in the various countries where many Garifuna people now reside.

Subsequent to the launch of the Call for submission of films, we were excited by the response of filmmakers and documentalists overseas. Some of the documentaries have been produced by Garifuna persons, others have not. Nevertheless, the range of documentaries that we have been fortunate to receive for screening underscores the themes of the resilience of the culture, its continued potential for growth and providing positive direction to young people in such areas as the reaffirmation of the validity of indigenous lifestyles and indigenous values. These films also provide a means to technically engage all persons, in that it challenges all of us as Caribbean people to be subjects, instead of objects of change. With the relative ease of access of videocameras, cellular phones and other recording devices, many communities can become involved in developing local video projects which speak to an examination and analysis of their own situations as well as which utilize local content for entertainment purposes.

During our Film Series, we have selected the following seven films for screening:

The Garifuna Journey: Produced and Directed by Andrea Leland & Kathy Berger. (USA) Genocide, exile, Diaspora and persecution did not break the spirit of the Garifuna people. Descendants of African and Carib-Indian ancestors, the Garifuna fought to maintain their homeland on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. The Garifuna resisted slavery. For this love of freedom, they were exiled from St. Vincent to Roatan in Honduras by the British in 1797. Despite exile and subsequent Diaspora, their traditional culture survives today. It is a little known story that deserves its place in the annals of the African Diaspora.

In first person Garifuna voices, this documentary presents the history, the language, food, music, dance and spirituality of the Garifuna culture. It is a celebratory documentary, with engaging scenes of fishing, cooking, dancing, cassava preparation, thatching a temple, spiritual ritual, ritual music and dance, all demonstrating the Garifuna link to the Carib-African past.

“Kytangomingo Ema, the path of our ancestors”. Produced and Directed by Christian Foret (Martinique) This documentary retraces the expedition conducted in May 2010 between Grenada, St. Vincent and Martinique. This documentary is linked with a research project conducted by Professor Dr. Berard Benoit of the University of the Antilles and Guyana based the Martinique and Guadeloupe , whose work examines the Antilles as a whole.

“The Amerindian”: Produced and Directed by Filmmaker Tracy Assing (Trinidad). In this documentary, Assing makes a personal exploration of her roots as a member of the Santa Rosa Carib Community based in Arima. The community celebrates the Santa Rosa Festival annually, and its Queen Valentina Medina is Assing’s great aunt. The Amerindians premiered at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in 2010 and has enjoyed successful screenings at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine; the University of Trinidad and Tobago, and Trinidad’s National Academy of Performing Arts, as well as Peter Doig’s Studio Film Club.

“Garifuna Technology in Belize” : Produced and Directed by Dr. Joseph Palacio (Belize) A Documentary video on the arts & crafts technology of the Garifuna of Belize.

“Clearing Boundaries” : Written, Produced and Directed by Alyssa Lucca (USA), Clearing Boundaries, the Garinagu of Los Angeles display how their efforts and hopes for unifying their community are not just locally driven within Los Angeles, but are then globally networked through social media on the Internet. In doing so, they have created an environment for transnational socialization and relational networking to unite all Garinagu across many nations. Internet technologies help the “Garifuna Nation,” a term used to unite the Garinagu under one common ethnic identity, to clear the boundaries of national borders and to help create a flexible nation within nations.

Play Jonkunu Play: Written, Directed and Produced by Dr. Oliver Greene (USA) “The documentary film Play Jankunú Play introduces us to a fascinating Garifuna ritual tradition which continues to flourish in Belize. Oliver Greene, the film’s author, draws upon his extensive fieldwork to bring to life this little known segment of African Diaspora culture. With visual allusions to parallel traditions in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Ghana, and elsewhere, the film offers the viewer a rich tapestry of Garifuna dance, drumming, and song, explicated by revealing commentary. Filmmaker Oliver Greene will present a free workshop before the film and will also participate in audience discussion afterwards. Greene is an Associate Professor at the School of Music, Georgia State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology (emphasis, ethnomusicology) from Florida State University and Masters and Bachelors degrees from Southern Methodist University and the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, respectively. He has published articles in the Black Music Research Journal, Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and in the book The Garifuna: A Nation Across Borders.

The Garifuna- An Enduring Spirit : Produced and Directed by Robert Flanagan & Suzan Al-Doghachi (USA) Set to the rhythm of traditional paranda music, this intimate documentary reveals Garifuna culture through their daily lives. With the voices of their ancestors and the eternal rhythm of the drums to guide them, the Garifuna continue an unbroken and unique heritage with their own language, religion and music.

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