The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline and is the new editor in chief of Harbor magazine, and when she's not organizing the St. Barts film festival, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    May '05
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    WHAT A FESTIVAL!
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     I’ll admit that it’s not every day you see a 6’-tall Senegalese film director hitchhiking into Gustavia wearing floor-length African robes! But during the St Barth Film Festival, held every year in April, anything is possible. In fact, our guest from Dakar, Moussa Sene Absa, was quite a formidable presence, with his colorful clothes, his carved cane, and pipe. His film, Madame Brouette (which translates to Madame Wheelbarrow) transported the audience to Senegal as he captured the struggles of a woman in a certain sector of contemporary African society. Although the theme of our festival (yes, I organize this annual event with my husband Rosemond and our friend, Joshua Harrison, a film producer in New York City) is basically Caribbean, we have found that our audience also enjoys the occasional entry from other parts of the French-speaking world. This year some of our other films were from closer to home, with Biguine, by Guy Deslauriers from Martinique and Neg Maron by Jean-Claude Flamand Barny from Guadeloupe. Nothing prepared us for the success of Neg Maron! Usually we get to the cinema at roughly 7:00pm to set out chairs, set out the loudspeakers (don’t forget the films are shown on AJOE’s tennis court cum outdoor cinema—and a big thanks to AJOE for the loan of the venue!) and start popping the popcorn and grilling the hotdogs. By the time we got there that night there was already a line of people, mostly teenagers, waiting to purchase tickets. By show time, at a little after 8:00pm,we were desperately searching for more chairs as every one we could scrounge up had been taken. It was the largest audience we’ve ever had for a festival film, except perhaps Antilles sur Seine a few years ago. My daughter Rachel and her friend Amy popped so many bags of popcorn, sold so many hotdogs and cold drinks, I thought they would pass out from heat or sheer exhaustion. One of the draws of this film was the fact that one of the lead roles was played by Admiral T. — a popular reggae-rap musician from Guadeloupe (never heard of him? gotta get with the program!) Good thing he didn’t show up in person, he would’ve been mobbed! But we were glad so many teenagers came to see the film— a slice of life in contemporary Guadeloupe and its social problems! And oddly enough these kids were very well behaved! Sometimes our teenage guests are more interested in themselves than the film, sitting in two circles of chairs at the back of the tennis court, fiddling with their cell phones, playing games, sending text messages, who knows? But this time it was different and we can only hope they were drawn into the drama of the film. We opened with a reprise of Buena Vista Social Club as a “best of...” the first nine years, and closed with Motorcycle Diaries, Walter Salles’ look at the adventures of young Ernesto “Che” Guavara, before he became a famous revolutionary. All in all it was a great group of films, filmmakers, and moments to remember. We are finishing up from this year’s festival, which many people said was our best yet. Which means we’ve got to get to work to make it even better next year. So when someone suggested to Rosemond that we do a festival like this once every few months, his stare of disbelief must have been something to see!
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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