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I Don’t Call It Ghetto wins big at TTFF 2020 awards

Features


Julien Neaves

A scene from the documentary I Don't Call It Ghetto. -
A scene from the documentary I Don’t Call It Ghetto. –

TT documentary I Don’t Call It Ghetto, Mortenol from Guadeloupe and Malpaso from the Dominican Republic were among the winners of the TT Film Festival 2020 awards.

The winners were announced on Monday night during the festival’s virtual awards.

FILMCO’s interim executive director Mariel Brown said the awards would normally be held in the Central Bank Auditorium or another venue but due to covid19 the festival has been mostly online.

“And what has been so great about that has meant that we have had so many of the filmmakers whose works were in competition plus jury members join us on the awards tonight. And that is a real treat.”

She congratulated those continuing to make films during these difficult times.

“Covid19 has taxed our creativity and our determination and our tenacity. And it’s wonderful to be able to continue to celebrate Caribbean films and Caribbean filmmakers.”

The award for Best Documentary Medium Length went to I Don’t Call It A Ghetto directed by Miguel Galofré, a TT-based filmmaker from Barcelona.

“The jury notes it is not often that we are given such intimate access to the everyday lives of today’s police officers. But in I Don’t Call It Ghetto Miquel Galofré takes us into the daily struggles and triumphs of police officer Onika James-Turner, creating a unique and detailed portrait of her life as a working mother, girlfriend, daughter, and neighbour. By the end of the film we know, Onika James-Turner, because she is us.”

The documentary also won Best TT Film.

TTFF founder Dr Bruce Paddington presented Best Narrative Film Short to Mortenol by Julien Silloray from Guadeloupe.

A scene from the film Mortenol. –

“The jury noted it was a fresh and humane take on revenge and coming of age in Guadeloupe. Brilliantly cast with a stand-out performance from a new exciting talent Chris Baltimore.”

Mortenol also won Best Film As Decided By The Youth Jury and jury convenor BC Pires said it was a unanimous decision.

He quoted the citation from the jury: “For its technical proficiency and cohesive display of its themes of youthful male elation and loss in the realest depiction of a boy who must reckon with an environment that teaches toxic behaviour.”

Best Narrative Feature Length Award went to Malpaso directed by Héctor M Valdez from the Dominican Republic. The jury noted that Malpaso is “a striking border fable that is clearly directed and visually stunning.”

A scene from the film Malpaso. –

The award for Best Student Film went to La Pieza de Casseus (The Raging Dance of Casseus) directed by Camilo Mejía from the Dominican Republic. The jury said they all found it to be a compelling and relevant story with a very rhythmic, creative and natural approach.

“It was the most cohesive in terms of direction, editing, performances, sound, production design, production and emotional impact. We journeyed with Casseus in real and imagined realms and it is a journey we would like to see continue.”

Best New Media Work went to Centella (Firefly) by Claudia Claremi from Cuba and Best Documentary Film Short went to Unbroken directed by Gabrielle Blackwood from Jamaica.

“The jury notes there are audience expectations with any film genre and with stories related to sports emotion, passion and adversity are par for the course. So it is always exciting to have a gem of a film unfold before your eyes that transcends genre and creates new expectations. Gabrielle Blackwood’s Unbroken succeeds in doing all of this while telling an inspiring story. A story that’s told with beauty both with the on-screen cinematography and the character’s inner spirit.”

Blackwood in her acceptance speech expressed thanks to TTFF and the members of the jury.

“I’m really surprised that we won but I am also very thankful.”

She also thanked her team and said Laron Williamson, the Jamaican amputee who is the subject of the film, the “real star of the show” will appreciate it as well.

Best Narrative Film Medium Length went to Zeen? directed by Calyx Passailaigue from Canada. The jury notes that Zeen? is a zippy and witty mockumentary about race.

A scene from the mockumentary film Zeen? –

Passailaigue said he was shocked but totally happy to receive the award.

Best Documentary Feature Length Award went to Servidão (Servitude) directed by Renato Barbieri from Brazil.

The jury notes: “All the docs in this category had something strong to offer. It made for a truly difficult decision. Ultimately, the doc that moved us most is told in a conventional but stirring way and took us by surprise with the power of its story. We hope the award amplifies its cause to highlight the story of slavery and eradicate its modern form, low pay labour, in Brazil as well as the rest of the world. From labourers to the activists – and the labour/activists – they compelled us to hear them. We hope you listen too. We congratulate Renato Barbieri for making the case, and this important film.”

The film beat out the Brian Lara documentary 501 Not Out which premièred at the festival.

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