Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the local film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
ST BARTHELEMY: THE MOVIE
The action begins at the break of dawn on a Friday morning in late March. As the sun rises behind the volcanic cones that dot the island, a few lone fishermen set out to sea and the delivery man from the bakery begins his daily rounds.
As the first warm baguettes and croissants are dipped into cups of strong French-style coffee, island residents in the neighborhood of Colombier begin to notice a strangely dressed group of men circling the area on foot. Closer inspection reveals them to be French riot police in full battle gear although as the coconut telegraph comes alive, these men will be described as ninjas, or as commandos, who instill fear in the local residents. They eventually escort a small group of French governmental agents into a hilltop house.
Once word has spread that they are there, islanders begin to organize a demonstration which turns into a massive traffic jam from the airport into town, and from Colombier down to the beach
area of Flamands.
What begins as a peaceful sit-in ends in a taunting
exchange of rocks and tear gas canisters, whose black cloud of smoke heads dangerously toward an elementary school where small children are outside for recess. The action continues on the dock, as the riot police and the demonstators have one last volley of rocks for tear gas. This time, unsuspecting tourists are caught in the fray. As the credits roll, a few rental vans are seen with broken windshields and a few people are being treated for injuries sustained during the stand-off...
Sound like the script for a cheap made-for-television movie? Well even here on this remote Caribbean island, truth can be stranger than fiction. Next time maybe the ninjas will come in shorts. It can get pretty hot hanging around in the sun dressed like that.
Now that April has arrived, there are a few more cheerful events on the horizon. The bi-annual AG2R, a transatlantic sailboat race, will be underway with some of the best French sailors setting out in Lorient, France and arriving in Saint Barth in early May. Watching the race on the internet is a favorite local sport and everyone is expected to be on the dock or on a boat in the harbor to welcome the winners, no matter the time of day (or night)
they arrive. Local participation includes Richard Ledee and Markku Harmela, as well as the Poupon brothers who more or less consider the island as home.
The 5th annual St Barth Film Festival (organized by yours truly) will be taking place at the end of the month so please cross your fingers and do your favorite no-rain dance to keep the skies clear for five nights of movies under the stars at AJOE. It's a real "cinema paridiso" with films from the Caribbean, Europe and this year even the United States, on tap. If you're on the island, stop by and grab a chair. Popcorn, hotdogs and sodas are available before the show and at intermission while Roland and Alain, our great projectionists, change the reel. There's no more charming way to go to the movies. Honest!
More to come,