This past weekend, on April 18th and 19th, some of the students of this year’s graduating class from the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) presented their thesis projects in dance and film to the public. These student were Makeda Lowe, Dario Callender, Stefan Forde, Shani Bannister, Danniella O’neal, Kerry-lyn Coppin, Paul Forde, Melanie Grant and Alison Phillips. The performance and screenings were held at the Walcott Warner Theatre of the EBCCI.
The sole dance this year, The Elements, was choreographed and performed by Makeda Lowe. As someone who doesn’t have much experience to speak of with the language of dance, I found it difficult to find the story. Given what was printed in the programmes handed out at the start if the night – “…a dance exploring the theme of how not paying attention to the ways in which we care for the environment, can eventually cause destruction and despair… ” – I knew what the idea driving the dance the was. That being said, the choreography was stunning and emotive and Lowe and her accompanying dancers moved beautifully. It was a captivating dance. The music drove the emotion of the piece and Lowe made very good choices in terms of her selections and did a good job in putting the music together.
The films (in the case of Raven by Shani Bannister, the pilot of a series), with the exceptions of Wildflower by Kerry-Lyn Coppin and Calypso Music: The Voice of Our People by Paul Forde, had the same issue; it was obvious what the filmmakers were trying to do but they didn’t quite do it. They introduced the ideas and conflicts that drove the story very well, but they then got lost. They needed more development – some more than others – to hit the targets that the filmmakers were aiming for.
Aside from that particular problem, Church Revival by Dario Callender had several others. The cuts in the editing were at times jarring, some shots were held too long while others weren’t held long enough, the footage looked overexposed and the colouring was off. In terms of the acting, the accent of the person playing the leader of the church kept changing; at points he sounded pseudo-Nigerian and at others pseudo-British. It was very confusing. Some of these could have been stylistic choices, but they didn’t feel like they were done on purpose.
The film is about a young man who is disheartened by the low membership in his church and his efforts to bring in more people. But he doesn’t actually do much of anything besides handing out flyers and suddenly the church is practically full. The film really succeeded in it’s comedy. Callender has a talent for that.
Being Human by Stefan Forde was an almost entirely CGI film about a young man living in a world in which every aspect of person’s life is controlled by an AI and his quest for love. Despite the fact that the CGI and green screen did not look entirely finished and was missing entirely in some shots, Forde still deserves praise for executing his project in such an ambitious manner. Especially when, considering the aforementioned problem it shares with many of the other films, the story was still fairly well realised. Forde managed to craft an emotionally resonant film, with a lovely story.
Shani Bannister’s piece, Raven, about a video vixen who finds a magical typewriter, was very beautifully shot in some parts and those parts stood out. The actors performed well in their roles and the chemistry between lead actress Nadia Holmes and supporting actor Ashely Rocke, in the scene in which she played a guest on the latter’s talk show, felt natural. The film had an amazing start, however it got kind of messy in the middle and ended abruptly. There was also a scene between main character Raven and her manager that didn’t seem to fit.
Flawed Perspective by Danniella O’neal was another film with stunning cinematography sprinkled throughout and was one of three films which explored female homosexual relationships. The film was about a young, Christian woman with homosexual feelings who was making a film about the gay community. It never quite came together, although it was better in the latter half.
The best, most touching and most moving film of this year’s Capstone group was Wildflower, by Kerry-lyn Coppin; a semi-biographical film about a young woman who grew up without a father, her relationship with her mother and her attempts to reach out to and bond with him. This was also a film with beautiful cinematography, it was well acted, the imagery was evocative and it was very well edited and written. It was just an altogether amazing film; engrossing and cathartic. Coppin did an incredible job with this production.
Second only to Wildflower was Calypso Music: The Voice of Our People by Paul Forde. A documentary featuring interviews with Anderson “Blood” Armstrong, Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire and Dr. Anthony “Gabby” Carter, among others, the film explores the decline of social commentary in calypso. This film was poignant and timely (it’s Crop Over season after all). The love and passion that Forde has for calypso music was more than evident and the care with which he created the film was clear. It had a strong narrative, a powerful message and captured a nostalgia for this art form that resonated with the audience, highlighting what seems to be a dying aspect to Barbadian musical culture.
If I had not read the synopsis for The Book of Jasmine before viewing the film, I would not have known what was going on aside from the fact that it was about a Christian woman struggling with her sexuality. That is my only complaint about this film. Anyone that has followed Melanie Grant’s filmmaking career knows that she is a master of subtle story telling and delivering narrative effectively through visuals. She’s also a genius cinematographer. Here though, she was perhaps too subtle in her story telling. The ritual needed to be set up and explained, in my opinion. I didn’t understand the final shot of the film until Grant explained what it meant during the Q&A that followed either, but other than that the film was in keeping with Grant’s record as a spectacular filmmaker. I always look forward to seeing her work.
Alison Phillips’ film Purple Thunderstorms, had an incredible start and the transitions were fun. But it kind of felt like it was trying to tackle too many things and therefore barely touched on any of them; only enough to make a brief statement but not to explore them in depth. I did appreciate what Phillips was trying to do and the themes that were present in the film and the way that she treated them. The ending felt a tad rushed and unearned, however, it was a good film.
Overall, the students’ projects were well done. As a recent graduate from the EBCCI who has been through Capstone, I know the struggle and the stress that comes along with it. That these students were able to survive the process, soldier on and complete their projects is an achievement in and of itself that needs to be applauded.