As the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival comes to a close, it is clear that students and alumni from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine are making a big impression on the local film scene.
Nadissa Haynes’ Pashan of the Froot, which was made for the Film Programme’s second-year documentary course, had the honour of being selected to open the Festival itself. This is the second film by a UWI Film student that has been chosen to open the film festival, the first being Thomas Jemmerson's Queen of the Brands in 2009.
Other works by UWI Film students selected for the Festival included Marian Bradshaw’s La Parranda, Mandisa Pantin’s Shushed, Social Injustice by Kivonne Ramsawak and Zahra Gibbons, Lynnessa Parks’ Losing My Religion and Renee Pollonais’ Sweet Fries. Film Programme alumni Christopher Din Chong and Mikkell Khan had their debut feature 3 Line selected for the Festival. Rooted in Dreams, a documentary about the University itself, which was co-directed by alumna Francesca Hawkins, was also featured. Many of the works of students and alumni were shown on campus as parts of the UWI Film Festival, which ran simultaneously with the larger Festival.
The festival’s honours and awards were handed out on Sunday, October 2 and a number of UWI students walked away with top prizes. The Jury Prize for Best Local Short Film was awarded to Renee Pollonais for her film Sweet Fries. Sweet Fries was also awarded the Jury Prize for Best Local Actress, for its star (and DCFA Student) Dionese Sylvester. Natalie Wei, an MPhil student in Gender and Development Studies won the People's Choice Award for Best Short Film for her film Chinee Girl. Also, Francesca Hawkins received the inaugural BPTT Graduate Film Development Award for her outstanding contribution to local film culture.
Commenting on the performances of UWI students at the Festival, Dr. Christopher Meir, the director of the UWI Film Programme said, “We in the UWI Film Programme are extremely happy and proud to see our students and alumni making such great contributions to the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. Given the talent on display in this year's Festival and the performance of students' work in recent years at regional and international festivals, we are confident that UWI students and alumni will help to lead the way forward for local and regional film culture.”