Tag Archives: Short film

Modern Griot Interviews: Janluk Stanislas and ‘Trafik d’Info’


AFFICHE TRAFIK D'INFOI met Janluk Stanislas at a recent Caribbeing event and found out about his 2005 Caribbean futuristic short film, Trafik d’Info. As someone of Afro-Caribbean descent, I am always looking for speculative works from the Caribbean and so this excited me. Trafik d’Info, known as the first science fiction film from the Caribbean, centers on a 20th century organization of rebels who are illegally trading information despite censorship from authorities. One of the agents of the organization, Jouwa, hunted the militia, is attempting to save important information so that people in his generation and future generations can receive it. Later in the film we see the effects of the efforts of this organization in the future. Below is my interview with Stanislas about the film:

1) Tell us a little about your background and how it influenced you to be a filmmaker.

I’m French Caribbean, born on the island of Guadeloupe. I’m part of that generation that grew up with the values that our parents and grandparents instilled, but also grew up with the beginning of advanced technology. My parents had a TV when I was one, and I remember going to the movies with my father later on every weekend. My mother influenced both my brother and I to play the piano and always found a way to document the family. I guess that the essence of my art form today was always surrounding me since my young age.

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Modern Griots Reviews: The Summer of Gods and Panel Discussion


Some of the best stories are the ones that connect back to original tales and cultural rituals that are part of the human journey. Today, sometimes the universal meanings, archetypes and principles behind our modern stories are hidden because we are disconnected from those ancient tales and rituals. Think of, for example, Little Red Riding Hood, which can be interpreted as an initiation fairytale with the grandmother as the grand wise mother or crone figure and the wolf as an Anubis-like figure leading her onto a path of rebirth of herself.

Eliciana Nascimento captures that universal story of returning to one’s roots and the ancient continuing to live in the new in her Afro-Brazilian and Yoruba Orisha-inspired film, The Summer of Gods. Opening with a boat ride, a young girl, Lili, is traveling with her mother and brothers to visit her grandmother and right from the start, we see she has the ability to hear and see spirits around her. Lucumi priestess and professor of afrofuturism, Koko Zauditu-Selassie, said during the panel that this establishing scene of the family going across the water symbolizes fluidity of generational memory and listening to the past, and that despite being abducted and forced across the water during the transatlantic slave trade, it did not change us completely. Water is a theme throughout the film, including a honoring ritual at the waterfall in Brazil in the beginning of the film and the two water-related Orisha – Yemanja (whose is along with her Brazilian festival a main inspiration for the film) and Oshun (the Orisha of the life-giving rivers). The water represents for this young girl a return to her ancestral roots and traditions, but also a fertile creative place where her new life can begin.

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Otherworldly Videos: Danger Word+HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican+Old Money+Tiombe


Film:

Here is the Web premiere of the short film Danger Word, directed by Luchina Fisher and starring Frankie Faison and Saoirse Scott. The film, which is based on Devil’s Wake from Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, follows a 13-year-old girl and her grandfather in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. If you enjoy zombie shows and films, like The Walking Dead and The Night of the Living Dead, this is a nice addition, mainly because 1) the lead characters are not the stereotypical ones — a young black girl and an older black man, 2) the zombies develop a trait that gives a an interesting twist to how would living humans be able to differentiate between themselves and the dead and also gives a slight remnant of humanity to the zombies, 3) the film has good story and character development that I see potential in it becoming a larger film, and 4) did I mention the black girl, who is the hero of the story, although it does end tragically, and I wonder what happens next for her character.

The collective, HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican‘s behind-the-scenes video of their film, Good Stock on the Dimension Floor: An Opera, which is “reimagining the traditional opera to pose a central question: “What happens to the black body when it is haunted by a ‘blackness’ outside of it?” The spoken, chanted, sung, and screamed libretto explores the consequences of centuries of global racial strife that are thrust upon on those born of African descent.” The film will be showing at the Whitney Museum of Art from May 14th-25th.

 

Continue reading Otherworldly Videos: Danger Word+HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican+Old Money+Tiombe

Modern Griots Reviews: Afronauts


Last Saturday, I went to to New Films/New Directors short film showcase, which included Frances Bodomo’s 14-minute film Afronauts. Based on the 1960s Zambian Space Program, which grade school teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso set up and had amongst its crew a 17-year-old girl and two cats. In Bodomo’s film, albino model and actress, Diandra Forrest, stars as the 17-year old Matha Mwamba who is part of the mission to be the first Zambian astronaut. Along with her are the other members of the Zambian Space Academy as well as Auntie Sunday, played by Yolanda Ross.

As said in a post-film discussion, the film has a timeless quality to it. Shot in black and white, the contrasts between the light of such images like the moon and shadows, like in the tent, are particularly striking. Also striking is the desert setting of the film; for a film about a space academy training to be astronauts, the lack of stereotypically futuristic or hi-tech tools replaced by the recycling of waste and scrapped materials, brings to the forefront the characters and why they need to do this. The characters do not seem to want to complete this mission for some commercial or nationalistic glory during the Cold War’s Space Race, but to show the desire of the spirit to overcome what appears to be the insurmountable. Despite her aunt’s fear of the danger or even her own, she is determined to go to the moon. Despite how they appear to others outside of the academy (just look at the original film for the space program above) and it rudimentary technology, they completely believe in the mission. Hoji Fortuna, who plays Nkoloso, tells Matha that she is the “mother of the exiles” and that he sees those in outer space “welcoming [her].” His nickname for her, a play on her name (“powerful woman”), harks back to a universal “mother of the abominations,” the mother of all the outcasts, and the underdogs, like in Revelations riding her beast of a spaceship on her way to usher in a new world.

Afronauts will be showing at NYU’s First Run Film Festival on April 3rd, the  Dallas International Film Festival on April 5th and 6th, and at Sundance London on April 26th and 27th in addition to several others. Also, Bodomo is planning on turning the short into a feature film.

Otherworldly Videos: The Day They Came


“The Day They Came” is a Genesis Williams‘ directed short film starring Tony Doe and from the new Nigerian production company, Ficson. It seems like this going to be a web series, so I am interested to see more, particularly because of the special effects, which I read was done on a very small budget.

Otherworldly Videos: S.A. Miller’s “Into the Darkness”


Happy Friday the 13th!

While browsing the internet for Caribbean speculative film, I found Bajan (Barbadian) filmmaker channel and his apocalyptic film Into the Darkness. The film follows a young boy who is trying to survive amidst the threat of revenants — visible ghosts or animated corpses that were believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living.

Otherworldly Videos: Noise Gate + Spoek Mathambo + Fhloston Paradigm


Here is Donovan Vim Crony’s sci-fi short Noise Gate! The film is about a “dimension-traveling scientist who is in search of the ultimate reality. His only passage into that realm is something called the NOISE GATE.” It reminds me a little bit of Afrikan Boy and DJ Shadow’s ending for the video for “I’m Excited.” I also thought it was interesting that there were Japanese subtitles in the film, in a sense reversing the foreign film concept. Take a look at the Behind the Scenes.

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