May 9, 2004 - #21
Saint-Barth Film Festival
Once again this year, the island’s film fans waited impatiently for the annual St. Barth Film Festival to take place. This important cultural event, held in late April, screens a series of films by Caribbean filmmakers or with Caribbean themes at the AJOE tennis court in Lorient. Organized by Ellen Lampert-Gréaux, her husband Rosemond Gréaux, and New York-based filmmaker/producer Joshua Harrison, the 9th annual festival, held April 23-28, presented a very interesting program: Nada, a Cuban film by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, that was shown at Cannes last year; Nha Fala, a musical film by Flora Gomes shot in Cape Verde and Paris; The Agronomist, a documentary by American filmmaker Jonathan Demme; Nord-Plage, a “city symphony” by Jose Hayot from Martinique, and Entre Ciclones, by Cuban filmmaker Enrique Colina. For the past two years, film and video professionals, who are also members of the non-profit association St B’Art, have taught beginning filmmaking courses to youngsters in Saint-Barth. With the help of these teachers, a class from the Mireille Choisy junior high made three short films, one about the origins of surfing in Saint-Barth, one about Carnival, and the third one on the theme of dangers that menace adolescents. These three shorts were shown on the Saturday afternoon of the festival at the Municipal Library, before a screening of Karukera-Gorée, memory of tomorrow, a documentary by filmmaker Tony Coco-Viloin from Guadeloupe.
Each year, the festival invites special guests, including filmmakers and actors, to present their films. This year, those guests included the well-known writer from Martinique, Patrick Chamoiseau, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt for his novel Texaco and screenwriter of Nord-Plage, as well as José Hayot, the director of this feature-length film. Another highpoint of the festival was the post-film discussion with Michèle Montas,
the widow of Jean Dominique, the assassinated Haitian journalist and subject of The Agronomist. She received a standing ovation by the audience at the end of this moving film about her husband. An agronomy engineer by training, this militant champion for human rights and freedom of the press created the first “free” radio station in Haiti, was forced to seek exile in the United States and was later assassinated in Haiti in April 2000. Jonathan Demme, best known for his film, The Silence of the Lambs, had filmed interviews with Jean Dominque over many years. The Agronomist, his most recent film, tells the story of this exceptional journalist who have his life in the fight for democracy and free speech. Other festival guests included actress Fatou N’Diaye, who played the leading role in the musical comedy, Nha Fala, and Cuban filmmaker, Rogelio Paris, whose film, We Are The Music, was screening as part of the festival’s closing night festivities.
Successful “Day of the Sea”
An overall success for the second annual “Day of the Sea” held on Saturday, May 1, on the dock in Public, and organized by the Marine Park, the municipality, and the Saint-Barth Yacht Club. There were information booths about environmental protection manned by members of Sub Protect and the staff of the Marine Park, and films about the profession of traditional fishing in Saint-Barth and about the flora and fauna of Saint-Barth, as well as fish for sale, a photo exhibition, races for traditional sailboats, catamarans, and wind surfing, a flea market for nautical gear, visits aboard the junk Sao Mai, and various nautical activities that attracted a big audience. Island residents also cam e out in big numbers to listen to a concert by the new local band, Falco Spavarius, that was the final act for the day.
More to come