Smallman: A Film Review

I stumbled across Smallman: The World My Father Made while doing research for another post. I pressed play because it was a short film about my friend’s father. I know Richard Mark Rawlins as an artist. He’s also a great illustrator, and I am a big fan of his work.

As an aside, whenever he re-releases his meggie t-shirt, get it. Or keep an eye out for collaborations, they’ve been Mark Eastman by Richard Meggie bowties, and I think handbags, but I digress.

Smallman is a documentary film about Richard’s father John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins, also known as JK Rawlins. It probably helps to know that Richard is an artist when you start watching the film, but not significantly so.

This is a beautifully made 10 minute or so documentary, that profiles a key moment in JK’s life and the lasting impact it had on him. It also details his most usual talent as the maker of miniatures.

It’s a biography, and a love story. Richard’s wife Mariel is the film maker, but she lets the relationship between Richard and his father take centre stage. Richard is shown handling his father’s work, photographs and letters throughout. I remember thinking, how lucky they were to have so much of his stuff. When Richard talks about his father, he calls him ‘daddy’. It is one of the many authentic elements in this heavily stylised film.

Chantel Esdelle’s score is wonderfully old, and Englishy, in a way that’s it true to the person being profiled, and the time in which much of the action discussed takes place.

I give this a 4 out of 5 stars, and will watch this again.

I watched Smallman: The World My Father Made on, click here to watch it yourself

Africa World Film Festival 2017

The Africa World Film Festival started today. Screenings will be held at UWI’s Film School in St. Augustine, and at the Caribbean Traveling Film School on Gordon Street in Port of Spain.

This is the 10 year anniversary of the film festival, so they’re doing a retrospective. Yesterday, I spoke to Festival Coordinator Wayne Cezair about the school and the film festival. The interview is below.

The full schedule is on their Facebook page.

Affair in Trinidad – A Film Review

Affair in Trinidad was the 1952 comeback vehicle for the Hollywood sex symbol and actress Rita Hayworth. She had spent 4 years away from the big screen because of her marriage to Prince Ali Khan. But when that marriage ended Hayworth needed to make her return in a big way.
Affair in Trinidad is a film noir that reunites Hayworth with most of the principals from her last big hit the movie Gilda, including her leading man Glenn Forde. It is a desperate move and it shows.
The plot is paper thin. Hayworth is Chris Emery, a nightclub performer whose husband is found dead. It soon becomes clear that he was murdered. The police have a suspect, the millionaire Max Fabian, and Chris is drafted to help them find the proof. Unbeknownst to her, her late husband had invited his brother to the island with the promise of a job. Steve Emery (Glenn Forde) arrives in Trinidad to find his brother dead under suspicious circumstances and begins his own investigation of the matter.
The acting is dated, and very stylised. The opening scene features a most casual conversation over Neil’s body.
And while the movie was filmed in Trinidad, you see very little of the island. It very well could have been set anywhere.
The racial politics of the time feature throughout. People of colour are part of the scenery, they are incidental to action, except for Dominique. Played by Juanita Moore, Dominique is Chris’ housekeeper, and while she is clearly what Spike Lee would refer to as the movie’s ‘magical negro’, she gets quite a few of some of the movie’s most memorable lines. And that brings us to this film’s saving grace, it is an extremely quotable movie. A friend described it as throwing more shade than the Northern Range.
It is also a very feminist movie. Chris is the goddess all men want to worship, but she is very ready to put them in their place when they get out of hand. In that she is matched by Dominique who had to set Steve right when he loses his manners around his brother’s widow. Chris is also sexual without apology. The other unapologetically sexual woman in the film is Valerie Bettis’ Veronica Huebling, a film vixen if there ever was one.
Affair in Trinidad is deeply flawed film that still manages to be very entertaining. It is tremendously quotable and it is one that will have you talking long after the credits have ended.
It gets it 3 stars out of 5.

Carnival Films

The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival tries to showcase Trinbagonian and Caribbean films outside of the traditional festival period. Their Carnival Film Series (to diffrentiate it from its main festival) has been going on for a few years now. This year they decided to take a look back.

The Film Series will feature 3 feature length films, one from Brazil.

Black Orpheus is a retelling of the classic tale set in Brazil’s favelas. Bachannal Time is Kamalo Deen’s farcical story of two stickfighters trying to get to the finals in Skinner Park, and King Carnival is a documentary filmed during Carnival 1973.

Try to catch them before the series ends.

The Ninth Floor

I got to see this documentary last year during TTFF16. I don’t know why I forgot to write about it, because I loved their access to, and use of archive footage.

The Sir George Williams Affair of 1969 was an early per-cursor to the Black Power Uprising in 1970. Many of the students who took place the Canadian incident returned to Trinidad and became involved in marches here.

It would be nice to see this shown on television here.

Culture Wrap for 2017.

I had a lot of fun this year covering all manner of things cultural and artsy. It was very inspiring to see people doing their thing in this country. It belies the rab that nothing good can come from here. I saw amazing art, and was party to enlightening conversations about design and history.
I can’t wait for 2017.

My favourite art exhibition was Josh Lu’s Paradise. It’s his cautionary tale for a country that doesn’t protect it’s heritage, built or otherwise. That has devolved into violence, and doesn’t seem to know it’s way out. That he quoted my brilliant friend Niama Sandy in his artist’s statement was icing on the cake. But I’ll keep looking out for Josh’s work.

He’s currently in London as one of the British Council’s 2017 TAARE artists.

Adele Todd’s Black Guard was also another favourite. I knew that she worked in embroidery, but I really didn’t expect it to have such an impact. The show took a hard look at our security services, and burgeoning surveillance state.
It was beyond cool that she got the Museum to paint the exhibition room red. You really should have seen it.

And then there was the Cazabon Exhibition at the Diplomatic Centre. I’ve written about that experience on this blog. I didn’t get to go back and see them, but I’m lucky to have seen them with Geoffery MacLean, so I consider myself fortunate.

I got to see Stickfight for the first time. I know, I know. I highly recommend it, it’s my intention to make this my new Carnival tradition.

Viewing tip. Look out for the paramedic who is thoroughly enjoying the match-ups. Bless him, he’s not letting his fun prevent him from doing his job. He made my night.

From Fete Fonts now Sign Books, to Fashion and Film Festivals galore. This year was an eye opening one for me, so I’m really looking forward to what 2017 has to offer.

CFAFF Schdule is Out!


November 17th


Philippa’s Garden
Tickets  $75
Festival Launch & Cocktail Reception
Afro-diasporic Linkages and the Caribbean Voyage Art Exhibition Opening
CFAFF Special Selection – Boys of Soweto (4 mins)
CFAFF Official Selection -Destination Runway (21 mins)

November 18th


Arima Tennis Club
(Secondary School Students)
Afro-diasporic Linkages and the Caribbean Voyage Student Art Exhibition
Afro-diasporic Linkages and the Caribbean Voyage Panel Discussion with Dr. Olabisi Kuboni, Festival Chair
CFAFF Official Selections (20 mins)
Filmmakers Q & A

(Fashion and Film Students Only)
International Fashion Film Screening Curated by Niccolo Montanari (45 mins)
Fashion Film Future Q&A with Niccolo Montanari, International Fashion Film Consultant

Tickets TT $30
CFAFF Official Selections (80 mins)
*Complimentary Cocktails

November 19th

Tickets TT $30
CFAFF Official Selection – Fanm Djanm – We Are Every Woman (2mins)
CFAFF Special Selection – DIVA Enemy of the People (95 mins)
The HeART of Fashion Panel Discussion with Nicole Joseph Chin, Founder of Ms. Brafit
*High Tea Served


The Rush Sports Bar and Night Club
Tickets $100
Afro-diasporic Linkages and the Caribbean Voyage Urban Gala & CFAFF Award Ceremony
*Entrance to After Party Included

At the Door $80
*Urban Gala After Party

For more information call 381-6469. Tickets are available at AKIMBO 37 C Pro Queen Street Arima. For collection in POS contact 761-9120 or  748-7156

Trafficked Wows London

‘We returned to the scene of the crime so to speak, as our investigation into drug trafficking between both countries began back in 2009″. Garth St. Clair, co-host of the award-winning radio show Eye on Dependency was speaking about the recent private screenings of the local film Trafficked in London. Garth and his wife and co-host Natasha Nunez wanted to wrap up the year long run of the film in England to as a gesture of thanks to the many individuals and organisations that contributed to their travels and to the interviews with prisoners, one of which was turned into film.


“The trade in drugs, and more recently, humans has been a passion of ours for some time”, said St. Clair, “and we could not have accomplished any of our work over the years without the tremendous support and encouragement from the staff and leaders of the British High Commission.” The current and former High Commissioners attended the private screening in London on 13 October, along with several other specially invited guests, including BBC journalist and former prisoner Raphael Rowe and BBC World Service announcer Neil Nunes. 


After the screening, which was introduced by HE Tim Stew, British High Commissioner to T&T, the audience was typically silent but soon came to life as people expressed their understanding of the importance of the message. An important comment from Tony Saggers, a leading official at the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) was that Trafficked ought to be mandatory viewing for young persons travelling independently. The sentiment was echoed by other audience members who congratulated the husband and wife team on their efforts and record of success as well as the poignant message Trafficked conveys.


In addition to the private screening at the Odeon Panton Street theatre, Garth and Natasha also visited two prisons – Brixton and Styal – where Trafficked was shown, in the prison chapel which doubled as a makeshift theatre, for the inmates. “It was our first time at Styal”, said Natasha, “which a women’s institution close to Manchester. The reaction and discussion after the film was the most touching for us. The characters in Trafficked resonated deeply with many of the prisoners, leading to one woman, ironically from Trinidad, breaking down and leaving the room. It was a powerful reminder for us that the message being carried in this film is so important to get out there.” 


HM Prison Brixton in central London is a Category B prison for men. Trafficked was shown for a group of prisoners, who remained attentive during the film and asked lots of questions at the end. Of course, there was a Trinidadian in the audience who was eager to be regaled of news from home. One of the prison officers standing guard was also from Trinidad & Tobago. Most of the questions centred on the drug trade between both countries, with many prisoners lamenting that women are so often trapped or tricked into being involved.


The prison visits were made possible by another of Eye on Dependency‘s partners, the Prison Radio Association. Led by Chief Executive Phil Maguire, the PRA runs a network of over 100 prison radio stations across England and Wales called National Prison Radio (headquartered at HMP Brixton) and helped establish RISE Maximum Radio at the Maximum Security Prison back in 2012. RMR has been thriving ever since and distinguishes itself in that unlike the British system, the programming and on-air duties are shared by inmates and officers.


Eye on Dependency is the Creator and Executive Producer of Trafficked, an entirely local production in conjunction with Quirky Films. Trafficked is directed by Sean Hodgkinson and stars Gyerlini Clarke, Aaron Charles, Kia Rollock and Brett Bengochea.


Eye on Dependency also expresses its genuine thanks the Trinidad & Tobago High Commission and the Ministry of Foreign & CARICOM Affairs for their invaluable assistance in securing the venues for the pre-screening cocktail and theatre, as well as the sponsors of the travel including the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Community Development Culture and the Arts, the United Nations Development Programme, the National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme (NADAPP), Oxygen Productions and Dr. Anthony Pottinger.  




For more information about Eye on Dependency and/or Trafficked, please contact Mr Garth St. Clair at 756-6337 or

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