Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Arts In Action!

On Sun 12 Oct a group of friends visiting from London (two celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary)and myself chipped in at a Habitat for Humanity Project in Cunupia, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago. The project is fondly called Veronica's House by Elspeth Duncan who is a fellow blogger and multimedia artist. For details you can check out Elspeth's blog that makes us sound much grander than we are I find! I encourage all my readers to learn more about Habitat for Humanity worldwide and in Trinidad and Tobago. . The official main site is http://www.habitat.org. Elspeth calls it The Foundation of Love in Action but I'd like to simply call it Arts in Action!...cause Elspeth did a documentary film called Invisible that inspired a dance that inspired me by reading her blogs and seeing the film at the TT Film Festival and part of the dance as well. Led me to tell my friend Nerissa about it. And she and her husband James had decided that since they didn't need anything in the form of material presents for their 5th wedding anniversary from friends it would be nice for them and friends to give to a charity. On hearing bout this one they decided to chip in their labour and ask friends to do the same. And there you have it below the result of this decision!-our group co-mingled with members of Habitat! Some might say Arts in Action some might say Love in Action ...perhaps truth be told its both...cause Love and the pure expression of Art comes from the same place :):

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Guest Blogger: Raj Arora on the Hindi Film Drona

While browsing on the website intent.com where I'm a member I saw a review of the Hindi film Drona by another member Raj Arora. And I got to thinking bout putting it up here as a guest blog while I am still ruminating on how I'm going to present the Strange Luck of V.S. Naipaul :) I asked Raj what he thought and he has agreed! We are now friends on Intent and you can check out his positive thought factory blog as he is a fellow blogger as well. Raj comes from the Gurgaon/Delhi region of India and was born in the Chinese year of the monkey!:)

I take it his first language is not English and as a result his expression in English is not like a fluent speaker but sufficient. Either ways it is the message that counts and really we should all be able to one day speak the same universal language. What I like is the message...the idea that films inspire us is coming across here along with the concept that we are all really starring in our own film in this here life!...Interestingly Raj does not read fiction and lists his favourite movies as:
'In a way every movie is good...its up to you where you see your self in that movie...all hit movies are hit bcoz people can relate with them...so if you can relate with a nice movie..that means thats a hit movie for u..!'

Now here's Raj's review:

Today I have seen the movie DRONA.

Reports were saying the movie is not good…and waste of time & money.

Even though I went for this movie & got amazed with it. That’s because I got the meaning in it.

DRONA is the main character of this movie and was a normal man like you & me. He was not aware of his strengths and powers. He was living his life without any mission & vision. Some how movie takes a turn & he realized his true potential.

It is the same thing happening in each of ours life. We don’t know what we are capable of doing. What is our mission on the earth? And why we are living? We all need to know our path and need to do for what we are here on this planet. Realize your true potential and be great. You are capable of doing the things beyond your metal limits, which you have created in last several years. Come out of your comfort zone and you will meet a great life to live.

Now the next part comes where DRONA was getting problems & setbacks in finishing his task. Same happens with us. When we start something with all the positive attitude & great will, some issues, some fears come between, and stop us. And most of the time we stop & give up. But DRONA doesn’t give up. He runs towards his fears and finally he wins. Everyday problems are here to teach us the lessons.

DRONA is a magical movie. But in my view when we run towards our fears, magically something happens and opens the doors of opportunities for us. So in a way our life is also magical. There is a DRONA in each one of us, just need to see him.

Like DRONA, we all are heroes of our movie called Life. We are here for a mission. Expand your vision & you will see it.

I invite you to become DRONA, and live a greatest life which is your core responsibility & right too.

And that's the end of the Raj Arora's review. Below is a youtube posting of a trailer for the film and to be honest after seeing it I know I won't be watching the film. From the looks of it...it seems to be like a mix of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings but with much less funding and so much less expert effects! But of course you can be the judge...and perhaps you'll go see it and have the philosophical viewpoint as Raj did coming out of it! The video is in what I'd like to call Hinglish! And Latin too cause is that the Latin chant from The Omen mixed in there? Well now I'm scared!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Adventures at the TT Film Festival 08, Part 1-Invisible and Almost Heaven

The first day I attended the 2008 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival was to see fellow blogger (the blog NowisWowToo), known multimedia artist and soon becoming friend, Elspeth Duncan's short documentary, Invisible. Elspeth had blogged about it and the activities it had inspired in the past on her blog which I follow so I was eager to see it and she even sent a group of us on facebook ...facebook invites! So it was a big event for me to get there on Sat 20 Sept 2008 trying to get there in good time to see also 'the dance' which as you read on you will hear more about. It costed TT$20 for a ticket and I tried to get in to be seated by 7:45PM as Elspeth had stated but the movie attendants kept saying ...'No...that the theatre hall was not ready as yet...and no they didn't know anything about no dance?!' Eventually they did let me in just around a few mins before 8 PM, the actual start time of the film. And yep from the looks of it, it seemed that the dance was indeed going to be on! I happened to be seated next to a white, I think American man...or at least a North American...cause to be honest I'm not one of those who can tell the difference between accents from Canada and the US, or India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and that whole subcontinent really for that matter, or between New Zealanders and Australians! But the man was a white man, short and stout and this was when I was eating raw so I looked at him with his tray of assorted junk food and for once in my life felt superior health consciousness wise...oh these superiority complexes we have! But the man either officially attending the film festival or attending on his own was being told a bit about the film festival by a local man. And something bout the man just seemed amusing to me...he seemed to be so stereotypically American I found (yes we do so stereotype as well!) but he somehow made me feel he could so easily be Roger Ebert of Siskel and Ebert fame although I knew he wasn't... but he looked something like him to give you a visual (luckily he did not look like Siskel who has passed on to the great beyond...and so would have been making a ghostly appearance had it been him!) Anyway the American man or so I call him was asking the Trini man about the dance...he seemed to find it interesting that there was going to have a dance...but no so the other foreign man who walked into the cinema late and almost bumped into one of the dancers of the dance! But I guess we can't all think outside the box and I did get the distinct feeling that some in the theatre hall were a bit perplexed to realize the dance was being performed in the movie hall after all it was a film festival!

Of course the dance itself was very lovely! It was adapted so it could be done in the small space just in front of the movie screen and definitely gave you a feel for what the film was about-a lady called Veronica who was living with HIV and had two young kids, one with HIV also and one without. The dance is named after the film and was done based on inspiration from the film which was shown before and the film is on Youtube for all to see. So its called Invisible (the dance) and was performed by a few dancers and choreographed by Sonja Dumas. It was a well choreographed and performed dance.

Then the film followed...Invisible (the short documentary). The film was just over 10 mins long and actually done by Elspeth Duncan (Happy Hippy Productions) for TTCRC (Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for the Convention on the Rights of the Child)who funded the project. The documentary was really lovely done...so touching...because Elspeth wasn't allowed to show the faces of the individuals she focused on Veronica's hands a lot and her fingers and on the legs, feet and hands of the children. To me that was such a genius and touching approach because it so humanized them although they were faceless. And you could see the warmth and human connection shared by all the family members by how Elspeth shot the film even though no faces! Amazing work really! An ankle wrapped around one here, hands interwoven there...a child on a mothers lap right over there! And the voice of Veronica ringing through with such emotion! The whole thing was shot to the backdrop of music created by Elspeth herself and later on by inquiring from Elspeth I found out the artwork being shown throughout the film was by Elspeth's nephew. I really like that idea too the childlike drawings used along the story! Really well done work Elspeth...genius!The film is on youtube for all to see as below:

And what's even more amazing is Elspeth's not done there...post production of the documentary Veronica lost her home and her child with HIV was thrown out of her school. Elspeth decided to help Veronica to get a home and eventually Habitat for Humanity came on board! You can read more about that drive by searching on Elspeth's blog here NowisWowToo And hopefully this authour should be making it down to the house site next weekend to assist a bit too possibly with some friends...although not very skilled at labour! But as Elspeth said to me, "Every little bit of help counts!" Now that's truly art in action!

Now I'm accustomed to things at the particular movie house hosting the festival being well, lets just say not very affordable to all! However I have to hand it to the organizers of the festival for keeping prices for tickets within the reach of the average Joe Bloggs! Cause I thought well the TT$20 I paid was just for Elspeth's documentary but realized with mixed feelings that no, the show continued on with 'Almost Heaven' which was a full length film. I had mixed feelings cause 1)I didn't plan my time to stay there so long although I did not have anything urgent to do and 2)I thought I was about to see a Jamaican, dance hall, gangsta film! Can there be more torture for one as me? For over an hour! But I decided to give it a whirl...

And I guess that journey I went on was similar to the German woman in the film who ends up in Jamaica by entering the wrong gate and getting on a plane to Kingston, Jamaica instead of Nashville, Tennessee! The German lady in the film is dying and her German husband who owns a bowling alley in Germany wants her to spend her last days in confinement with him looking after her. However she wants to spend her remaining time, living out as much as possible her dream of one day becoming a country and western star! She is aided by a Russian attendant at the alley and is off to Nashville to sing at this club that to me in my perception of the film is like you know 'Off Nashville' as in the equivalent of 'Off Broadway'! She has an invite to sing at a place there. This lady is a real Country and Western freak with the clothes and the guitar and the music on her lips! But she ends up in Jamaica! She gets schemed, scared and almost down and out...but like in all good films, things eventually turn around and there is a happy ending at least for the time. Cause of course she is going to still die but she finds her 'Almost Heaven'(the film's title) and helps the Jamaican co-star find her way too as the film closes with the German lady singing 'Almost Heaven' (John Denver's tune....Almost Heaven West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountain...Country Roads take me home to the place I belong...West Virgina.) to a Jamaican reggae beat mixed in, where the 'West Virgina' is substituted for 'West Jamaica' and the 'Blue Ridge Mountain' for 'Blue Mountain' on a beach in Jamaica where the Jamaican lady sets up a little club sort of and is trying to go on the straight and narrow and earn an income. Also the German lady's husband walks in and is finally at peace with her spending her dying days following her heart which is now simply singing music wherever it may be and among friends...West Jamaica or Nashville, Tennessee! It was a lovely little film and I really enjoyed it...it was such a pleasant surprise! Hey and you know something?... That American man next to me left 3/4 way through that lovely little film! Maybe he had too many chips, popcorn and his sugar levels were just too high from the soda! (as if I'm some health buff! :) but perhaps it was my calm of eating raw at the time that helped me give this lovely film a chance!) The film's official details as published on the film festival's official site:

Almost Heaven

Running Time : 95 minutes
Origin : Jamaica/Germany
Year : 2005
Director : Ed Herzog

Helen has always dreamt of singing at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. She may not have the greatest voice in town, but that isn’t her biggest problem. Helen only has a few weeks left to live. Since it’s now or never, she wants to give it a try (against the wishes of her narrow-minded husband who feels she should spend her last weeks in more dignified surroundings). Decked out in a cowboy hat and boots, she sets off for Nashville but lands instead in Jamaica—wrong plane, wrong place, wrong music! Helen soon ends up in the calculating hands of Rosie, a saucy local whose morals are as skimpy as her skirts. With Rosie’s help, Helen makes it to Montego Bay, but soon has no money left to leave the island. She has no better luck singing for her supper: a German woman crooning country ballads isn’t what American tourists want to hear in Jamaica. With time running out, Helen begins to let go of her dream and her life, but finds an unlikely life raft in Rosie. A sweet, poignant tale that shows what happens when good friends and great vibes are all you’ve got.

I look fwd. to having your eyes and ears again soon as I discuss part 2 of My Adventures at the film festival when I talk about The Strange Luck of V.S. Naipaul, my discussions with the film's director and ask you to guess what brought Naipaul to tears!?!

But like the German lady in 'Almost Heaven' I myself love John Denver's music and lyrics and he was indeed Bodhisattva in nature if I do say so myself! So I leave you with Almost Heaven (Country Roads Take Me Home)...and OK I can't help myself so I'm throwing in Rocky Mountain High for good measure too! See you soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Here We Go!

Welcome to the launch of my newest blog: Books and Films Corner. Here I write about the books I've read, films I've seen...the festivals I've gone to bout books or films and other related experiences I've explored in the area of Arts as a whole! How they affect me and how I view them...how they inspire me and how I express myself through the forms as I myself freelance in the Arts industry. This is my journey...this is my story! I plan to start off with my experiences at the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival Hope to see you on here time and time again and look forward to you sharing your comments and views with me. Anyone wanting to be a guest blogger also welcomed! :) Let's go...and hopefully we'll have some fun along the way!

Hope you enjoy the clip from my Meady's Musings Production's Theatre Production Me Eat Manicou? It's the invocation dance to Ganesh followed by a bit of the beginning scene of the show. Dance done by Devani Ramnath of the Clico Shiv Shakti Dancers and in the opening scene is Carnella Barkley and Benedict Giuseppi.

With Love,

Meady's Musings Production