African Movie Awards opens its doors to Caribbean filmmakers


COLLABORATION: A scene taken from Half Of A Yellow Sun, which opened up the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival


ORGANISERS OF the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) met with Caribbean filmmakers over the weekend in a latest bid to strengthen their relationship in the film world.

Hot on the heels of the recent Toronto Film Festival, where they held a business roundtable with the cream of the film industry in attendance, the group set their sights on talent from the Caribbean.

The award body, headed by AMAA CEO Peace Anyiam-Osigwe met filmmakers, journalists and allied diaspora stakeholders at a special reception and presentation on Saturday (Sep 28).

The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF), which began on September 17 and will run until October 2, hosted the UNESCO Conference, where AMAA contributed to workshop debates with an international audience.

Mr Tony Anih, director of Administration at AMAA, said: “The participation of out brothers and sisters from the Caribbean in AMAA in the last five years continues to grow and we consider it necessary to encourage that growth.

“We have therefore come to TTFF to make representation to the industry in the region and to showcase what AMAA has achieved and who we are”.

The AMAA recently opened film submissions for 2014 and will select the 10 winners from the African continent and African diaspora.

Awards are made in 25 categories, including Best Diaspora Feature Film, Best Diaspora Documentary, Best Diaspora Short Film and Best Diaspora Animation.

Filmmaker June Givanni commented: “AMAA is doing its share to encourage links between film on the African continent and the African diaspora, more specifically on this occasion, the Caribbean.

She added: “Continuing that relationship we have to find ways to make our industries mutually sustainable and interconnected initiatives have a role to play in this. AMAA is consolidating its specific role to reward and encourage achievements in film in that landscape.”

AMAA is a celebration of African heritage and culture and reaching their 10th anniversary is a testimony to their presence in the ever-changing dimensions of film and creativity.

Voor het orgineel bericht:


Afro Supa Heroes and Jamaicons

This column by Carolyn Cooper appeared in Jamaica’s Gleaner. She discusses
how children’s toys reinforce sexist traditions and notions of beauty and
The global toy industry is notoriously racist and sexist. Like gods, toymakers create puppets in their own image. And the supreme puppetmakers are white and male. Naturally, most toys, for both boys and girls, reproduce stereotypes. Anorexic Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes on steroids have long defined the ideal body type for real children who can never ever measure up (or down).

And dolls are for girls and action figures for boys. No self-respecting boy would be caught dead with a dolly. After all, who would want a boy to grow up to be a man who could and would cheerfully prepare meals, feed children, change diapers and show love in action day after day? That’s for girls who are systematically conditioned to assume their God-given role as domestic servant. Christmas gifts of leaking dolls and miniature household appliances accurately predict the fate of girls.

In the fantasy world of the toy industry, the real action for boys has little to do with either love or work. It’s all about war and leisure. G.I. Joe is the prototype of action figures for boys. The first G.I. Joes were produced by the United States toy company Hasbro in the 1960s. They were branded Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot and Action Marine, representing four of the five branches of the US armed forces. There was no Action Coastguard. I suppose Action Marine did double duty.

Action Nurse was later added to the line-up of dolls/action figures. As was to be expected, Action Nurse was female and white. And she came armed with a medic bag, a stethoscope, crutches, bandages, splints, and a bottle of plasma. Somebody had to look after Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot and Action Marine when war put them out of action.

But Action Nurse didn’t last. She didn’t fit the mould. Rather homely, she wasn’t really an ideal doll for girls. No competition for glamorous Barbie, who was a sex symbol without medical baggage. And Action Nurse wasn’t enough action for boys. She was more like the clean-up crew. Action Nurse was manufactured for only one year. She’s now a rarity and so the most valuable of all these early action figures. It doesn’t work like that for women in real life. Less desired, more valued?


G.I. Joe really wasn’t the ideal hero for black boys growing up in the 1960s. They needed heroic figures in their own image. That’s the compelling argument made by the British graphic designer and creative director Jon Daniel in a brilliant exhibition of black action figures and comics now on at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London. It’s called ‘Afro Supa Hero’ and it documents Daniel’s journey to define his identity in a society from which he often felt excluded.

In the exhibition notes, Daniel tells the intriguing story of how he started his museum-quality collection. Round about 1994, when he was in his late twenties, he came across a photo of a Malcolm X action figure which had been produced by the black-owned Olmec toy company. He was hooked. You know what they say: the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys.

In Jon Daniel’s case, this toy wasn’t just a costly indulgence. It signified so much of what had been missing from his childhood. Black power! He now has a collection of more than 40 action figures. I gather that his favourite is Super Agent Slade, modelled on Richard Roundtree’s Shaft. Daniel has also collected black comic strips which are featured in the exhibition. These include Brother Voodoo, Lobo, Black Lightning and also a black historical comic featuring Martin Luther King, Pushkin and the heroic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.

Daniel’s long-standing commitment to documenting black heroes was again manifested last year in the spectacular installation he designed for Jamaica 50. Cleverly called ‘Jamaicons’, the outdoor exhibition was hung on the exterior wall of the famous Ritzy cinema in Brixton. It featured huge images of nine iconic Jamaicans – our own heroic action figures: Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Marcus Garvey, Mary Seacole, Grace Jones, Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Merlene Ottey, Michael Holding and Usain Bolt.


When I visited the Afro Supa Hero exhibition, it struck me that it ought to travel to the Caribbean. Our children need to see these relatively rare images of black action figures and comic strips. The National Gallery would be an ideal venue. But, alas, it’s not likely to happen. I’ve concluded that the National Gallery doesn’t put a high price on popular culture.

Last year, the powers that be at the National Gallery grudgingly agreed, it now seems, to host an exhibition of the top 100 posters in the First International Reggae Poster Contest. Co-organised by graphic artists Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou, the contest was a huge success. As was the exhibition.

Surprisingly, the National Gallery declined the offer to mount another exhibition of this year’s winners. The reggae posters seem to have had just novelty value. As far as I can tell, last year was the very first time in its almost 40-year history that an exhibition of posters was mounted at the National Gallery. And the novelty appears to have worn off rather quickly.

The stated mission of the National Gallery of Jamaica is “to collect, research, document and preserve Jamaican, other Caribbean art and related material and to promote our artistic heritage for the benefit of present and future generations”. There must be a really good reason why the National Gallery refused to promote our artistic heritage this year, through the medium of the second International Reggae Poster Contest.

The Multitudes Gallery in Miami will host the exhibition instead. It’s a great idea for the exhibition to travel. Last year’s went to Thessaloniki and Athens. It’s a pity it doesn’t appear to be wanted in the home of reggae. And, maybe, I’m wrong. Perhaps, an exhibition of Jon Daniel’s Afro Supa Heroes (and Jamaicons) may actually find favour with the powers that be at the National Gallery. He’s a supa graphic designer. And he’d be another novelty.

Voor het origineel verslag:

Cambridge University hosts major exhibition devoted to afro combs

z-20968_8_201209_mdb56-recto_masThe University of Cambridge is staging a mayor exhibition exploring the 6,000-year history of the afro comb and the politics of black hair.

The fascinating display charts the inception of the comb in Ancient Egypt through to its ascendancy as a political emblem post-1960s.

“What we know from the early hair combs is they were connected to status, group affiliation, cultural and religious beliefs,” says curator Sally-Ann Ashton. “In more recent times, the ‘black fist’ comb that references the black power salute has wider political connotations.”

The material is being showcased at 2 university sites: The Fitzwilliam Museum, and alongside life-size installations created by artist Dr. Michael McMillan at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA).

Items on display at Fitzwilliam include hundreds of combs from pre-dynastic Egypt to contemporary picks. Some interesting artifacts include a 5,500-year-old comb from Southern Egypt and the original black fist comb, which was patented in 1976 in America.

The idea behind the exhibition was to take a fresh look at Egyptology within the parameters Africa in all its diversity, rich heritage, and culture, says Ashton. Interestingly, she says the earliest combs in the collection are from Egypt and this alongside her scholarly research has left her with no doubt that ancient Egyptians were racially and culturally black African.

“People do not want to admit or believe that these early civilizations were non-European but they were,” says Ashton.

Associated material includes paintings, sculpture and images showing the variety and complexity of hair styles found in Africa and on the Diaspora.

A digital interactive gallery also showcases projections of personal accounts about combs and African-type hair. Visitors are encouraged to share their own stories and photos, which will become part of archive material for future generations.

At the smaller MAA are the contemporary 3D-art installations that bring to life the cottage salon in the home, the barber shop and hairdressing salon in the modern day era. This is complemented by interactive works which center on the culture, styling and politics of afro-textured hair.

“Black hair is political, period,” says Dr. McMillan, “It’s connected to areas of identity, good and bad hair, culture, style and social class.”

It’s about choice,” says Sandra Gittens, author of African-Caribbean Hairdressing, who was involved in the exhibition in an advisory role. “People make a choice how to wear their hair.”

Voor het origineel verslag:

A Jump in the Sea: Sofia Maldonado Writes about Ateliers ’89

Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado writes about her experience during Caribbean Linked II, a residency programme at Ateliers ’89, Aruba. Maldonado cites the importance of projects like this in transcending boundaries — geographical, political, cultural and language limitations — and instead revealing the commonalities of the region. The relationships and dialogue that emerged out of the diverse work each artist produced for the final exhibition was testimony to the fact that in the Caribbean “there is far more that unites, than separates.”

Aruba was home to ten Caribbean artists for two weeks from August 25 to September 6. This 19-mile long island of the Lesser Antilles happens to be one of the great tourist stops in the Dutch-Caribbean, but for these contemporary artists it became an artistic workshop. For two weeks, Aruba was transformed into a studio of endless possibilities, conceptual research, and multicultural exchange. Between long walks on the white sand of this intriguing “desert island” and sporadic swims in the pristine Caribbean Sea, ten artists from the Spanish, French, English and Dutch Antilles were able to meet face to face and share an incredible moment of creative exchange.

This cultural exchange was made possible, thanks to the three daring directors that organized Caribbean Linked II at Ateliers ’89. Annalee Davis, director of the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., Holly Bynoe, curator and Editor-in-Chief of ARC Magazine and Elvis Lopez, director of the Ateliers ’89, challenged the great geographical barrier of the Caribbean, its sea, and brought together artists from “afar”, representatives of the cultural diversity inherent to the Caribbean. Artists whose origins, languages and artistic media are very diverse were invited to converse about the importance of creating alternative spaces, establishing links between the artists of the different islands, exchanging ideas and sharing their creative process.

Economic and artistic limitations in cmany Caribbean islands often compel young contemporary artists to turn their heads towards the booming capitals in the US or Europe that have larger art budgets and art markets; leaving behind — much to their regret — the Caribbean as a possible creative arena. Caribbean Linked II at Ateliers ’89 offered a journey into the artistic complexities of a postcolonial society. All Caribbean artists have at least two things in common: their colonial past and their postcolonial present. Aruba provided the perfect setting for a natural and spontaneous dialogue between the artists who found themselves “at home in the Caribbean”. The trips to the arid landscapes, the interactions with the Aruban people provided the opportunity to discuss a shared history and culture. It was a voyage of cultural, historic and political awareness. The artists were given the space to puzzle out their own experiences, experiment and create. Some collaborated in a physical way, others on a philosophical level.

Ateliers ’89 is not alone in this endeavor. Important creative networks have been on the rise in the Caribbean. A growing need for global and intra-island connections has encouraged the creation of spaces such as: The Fresh Milk Art Platform in Barbados, NLS (New Local Space) in Jamaica, Ateliers ’89 in Aruba, Instituto Buena Bista in Curacao, Alice Yard in Trinidad, Beta Local in Puerto Rico and many others. These programs have inspired contemporary art practices in their own countries and have projected them outside of their natural boundary, the sea. Although the Caribbean islands are pretty close together, the natural barrier hampers cultural exchange and communication. There are also other obstacles, besides the sea, that impede the flow of ideas between islands, most of which have their origins in the colonial period. Whatever political discrepancies, cultural and language differences exist are the remnants of colonial times. Creative spaces, like Ateliers ’89, hope to break through these complexities and obstacles in order to bring together artists, artistic manifestations and people. Experiences like Caribbean Linked II bring forth the pivotal truth: there is far more that unites, than separates.

Elvis Lopez, director of Ateliers ’89, recognizes the communication barriers within the diverse islands of the region. He has been able to provide a crucial exchange by inviting the selected artists to CARIBBEAN LINKED II: Omar Kuwas (Curaçao), Veronica Dorset (The Bahamas), Mark King (Barbados), Shirley Rufin (Martinique), Sofia Maldonado (Puerto Rico/US), Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Suriname), Rodell Warner (Trinidad and Tobago), Robin de Vogel, Kevin Schuit and Germille Geerman (Aruba). A group exhibition concluded the two week long residency. ARC Magazine and Fresh Milk will publish each artist’s written contribution and recollection about his/her experience on their online platforms.

Voor het origineel bericht:

Slavenschip Leusden. Moord aan de monding van de Marowijnerivier

De handelseditie van Slavenschip Leusden is verschenen. Dit is een voor een groot publiek toegankelijke editie van het proefschrift van Leo Balai.

titel Slavenschip Leusden
subtitel Moord aan de monding van de Marowijnerivier

Leo Balai

isbn 9789057309519
rubriek Maritiem en Koloniaal
specificaties 176 pagina’s
15 x 23 cm
genaaid gebrocheerd
geïllustreerd in zwart-wit
prijs € 19,95
Op 1 januari 1738 verging voor de monding van de Marowijnerivier in Suriname het Slavenschip Leusden, eigendom van de West-Indische  Compagnie (WIC), met aan boord 700 Afrikaanse gevangenen, op het moment van de ramp bevonden zich 680 gevangenen aan boord, waarvan er slechts 16 de ramp overleefden. Het schip, gebouwd in Amsterdam in 1719,  heeft  tot aan haar ondergang in 1738 tien slaventochten uitgevoerd. In totaal werden 6564 gevangenen in Afrika ingescheept, waarvan 4925 mensen de overtocht  overleefden.
De geschiedenis van de Leusden confronteert ons met alle facetten van de trans-Atlantische slavenhandel: opstanden, ziekten en tenslotte de moord op 664 van de 700 gevangenen door de bemanning  tijdens de ondergang van het schip. Deze scheepsramp, die geldt als de grootste moordpartij tijdens de gehele periode van de slavenhandel, is tot nu toe onbesproken gebleven. De beschrijving van de geschiedenis van dit schip brengt ons dichter bij een periode waar wij liever niet aan herinnerd willen worden.


Buitgemaakt en teruggevonden. Nederlandse brieven en scheepspapieren in Engels archief

In november verschijnt het vijfde deel in de serie Sailing Letters Journaal. Voor liefhebber van koloniale geschiedenis is dit een must read.

titel Buitgemaakt en teruggevonden
subtitel Nederlandse brieven en scheepspapieren in Engels archief

Van der Doe, Moree & Tang (red)

isbn 9789057309182
rubriek Maritiem en Koloniaal
serie Sailing Letters Journaal
specificaties 288 pagina’s
17,3 x 24,6 cm
genaaid gebonden
rijk geïllustreerd in kleur
prijs € 24,95
Deel 5 van het Sailing Letters Journaal
Inclusief DVD met hoge resolutie opnamen van de originelen
Verschijnt november 2013Nederland en Engeland hebben nogal wat zeeslagen met elkaar uitgevochten. Over en weer werden schepen tot zinken gebracht of veroverd. Scheepsladingen werden, samen met de aanwezige post, tot ‘prijs’ verklaard. De Engelsen maakten keurige beschrijvingen van de Nederlandse buit en de bemanningen van de gekaapte schepen werden uitvoerig verhoord. De verslagen daarvan werden – samen met honderdduizenden in beslag genomen papieren – eeuwenlang bewaard, aanvankelijk in de donkere kelders en tochtige zolders van de Tower of London en later in The National Archives. Niemand keek ooit om naar deze unieke verzameling, die meer dan 38.000 zakelijke en persoonlijke brieven bevat van en aan Nederlandse zeelieden, kooplieden en hun familie. Veel van deze brieven bereikten nooit hun bestemming. Sommige zijn tot op de dag van vandaag niet eens geopend. Pas in 1980 werden deze Prize Papers door een Nederlandse onderzoeker ontdekt. Het bestaan van deze archiefschat bleef echter slechts in kleine kring bekend. De omvang van het materiaal is indrukwekkend en uniek en de brieven zelf geven een goed beeld van het alledaagse leven in de 17de en 18de eeuw.

Ieder Sailing Letters Journaal bevat transcripties van opmerkelijke brieven en documenten met afbeeldingen op de bijbehorende dvd. In dit dubbeldikke vijfde en laatste deel komt een veelheid aan verloren gewaande brieven en scheepspapieren aan bod. Zo is er een verslag van het vertrek van de Hollanders uit Nieuw-Amsterdam, een relaas van de opstand aan boord van een Zeeuws slavenschip, nauwelijks bewaard huiswerk van stuurlieden, uniek drukwerk van het Bataviaas Genootschap en een onbekend gedicht uit Suriname, de beschrijving van de vracht van het laatste porseleinschip uit China en de perikelen rondom een saluutincident op de Antillen, alles buitgemaakt en teruggevonden in een Engels archief.

Slavernij en vrijheid op Curaçao

Bij uitgeverij  Walburg Pers verschijnt in november het boek Slavernij en vrijheid op Curaçao.
titel Slavernij en vrijheid op Curaçao
subtitel De dynamiek van een achttiende-eeuws Atlantisch handelsknooppunt

Han Jordaan

isbn 9789057309236
rubriek Maritiem en Koloniaal
specificaties 320 pagina’s
17,0 x 24,0 cm
genaaid gebrocheerd
geïllustreerd in zwart-wit
prijs € 39,50
Verschijnt november 2013Curaçao bleek ongeschikt voor tropische plantagelandbouw. Met de slavenhandel als motor ontwikkelde het eiland zich tot een Atlantisch handelsknooppunt. De concentratie van de bevolking in het stedelijk gebied rond de haven, waar ook de helft van de slaven woonde, weerspiegelt deze economische gerichtheid. Stad en haven boden goede mogelijkheden voor slaven om geld te verdienen en zichzelf en vooral ook hun kinderen vrij te kopen. Gedurende de achttiende eeuw groeide de bevolkingsgroep van vrijgelaten slaven en hun vrijgeboren nakomelingen snel. Omstreeks 1790 waren de aantallen vrije niet-blanken en blanken vergelijkbaar. De blanken beschouwden de vrije zwarten en kleurlingen met een mengeling van verachting, achterdocht en angst. In blanke ogen vormden zij samen met de slaven één groep. Dit kwam tot uiting in de lokale wetgeving en leidde tot misstanden bij onder meer de rechtspraak. Desondanks wisten vrije niet-blanken een stevige positie binnen de Curaçaose economie te verwerven en zij werden onmisbaar bij interne ordehandhaving en defensie. Er ontstond een spanningsveld tussen het gouvernement, de blanke bevolking en de vrije niet-blanke groep. Toen het eiland eind achttiende eeuw werd meegezogen in een regionale maalstroom van maatschappelijke onrust en geweld op de schokgolven van de Franse en Haïtiaanse revoluties werd hieraan een dimensie toegevoegd.

Walcott film makes world premiere


The documentary about Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, Poetry is an Island, had its world premiere at the 2013 T&T Film Festival (TTFF) on Saturday, Zahra Gordon reports for Trinidad’s Guardian

The film, which was directed by Ida Does, focuses on Walcott’s creative process and his dedication to art. Both Walcott and Does were present at the screening and participated in a question- and-answer session.

Does, in an e-mail interview, said she was happy the film was premiering at TTFF. “I think it’s great since Walcott has lived in Port-of-Spain for many years and has a history of working in the arts there.”

She also said her team was developing a film festival strategy to turn Poetry is an Island into a travelling film. Does is going to have the film subtitled in at least three languages and will be producing a DVD package with extra footage for sale.

Post-production of Poetry is an Island was completed through crowd-funding between April and March. Does said the support came from both fans of Walcott and corporate sponsors.

“On the one hand a lot of people were fans of Walcott, or simply loved the whole idea of a movie being made of our great poet, while he can still participate. On the other hand we have been sponsored by some corporate donors who want to contribute to the arts and to the legacy of Walcott. So that’s a wonderful thing. I like to think of it, as an energy that recognised our own intention, being a labour of love,” she said. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter also helped Does promote the film and gauge the response from the Caribbean. While there was support from people all over the world, Does said people in Barbados, T&T and Walcott’s home St Lucia gave the most support.

“People were waiting for this film and kept saying: I can’t wait to see this film. We ourselves couldn’t wait to see it, while we were still in the middle of the whole process of editing, the actual making of the film…It was an interesting experience.”

Poetry is an Island was shot on location in St Lucia, where Walcott lives, and in Trinidad, where he lived and worked for many years.

The film includes footage of Walcott reading his poetry and painting, interviews with his friends and family, and scenes from the places immortalised in his poetry.

Walcott is a poet, playwright and painter who has written nearly 20 books of poetry and more than 20 plays.

Voor het volledig bericht:

Critically Acclaimed Book “Dreaming in Cuban” Banned in Arizona Public Schools

dreaming in cuban

The Arizona public schools continue their quest to rid the public schools of ‘subversive’ Latino literature.  Their latest efforts at censorship involves the critically acclaimed “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia, Hispanically Speaking News reports.

The book tells of the life of three generations of a single family after the 1959 Cuban revolution.  The book written in 1982 was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Cuban history and the rich culture are important facets of the novel.  According to the American Library Association, which tracks banned books, this is the first banning of this novel.

The book had been listed, as were many other pieces of Latino literature, on the state’s core-curriculum list.  Certain teachers deemed the book “sexually graphic” and inappropriate for students.  The banning originated with the complaint of one parent who noted the following passage was inappropriate for her 10th grader:

“Hugo and Felicia stripped in their room, dissolving easily into one another, and made love against the whitewashed walls. Hugo bit Felicia’s breast and left purplish bands of bruises on her upper thighs. He knelt before her in the tub and massaged black Spanish soap between her legs. He entered her repeatedly from behind.

“Felicia learned what pleased him. She tied his arms above his head with their underclothing and slapping him sharply when he asked.

“‘You’re my bitch,’” Hugo said, groaning.

“In the morning he left, promising to return in the summer.”

Voor het origineel bericht:

Sir Hilary Beckles Appointed Chair of Caribbean Reparation Commission

hilary beckles

Noted Caribbean academic, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, Barbados), has been appointed to chair a Caribbean Reparation Commission that will seek to advance the region’s position on the injustices suffered as a result of the slave trade. Sir Hilary was appointed at the end of the first ever three-day Regional Reparation Conference that ended here late Tuesday.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their meeting in Trinidad in July had agreed to the formation of a region-wide Reparations Commission to seek compensation from Europe for native genocide and enslavement of Africans during colonisation. Member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Reparation Committee, Joseph Delves, speaking on the state-owned NBC radio Wednesday, described the conference as a “huge success”. He said that the Commission would comprise the various heads of the national reparation commissions. “We have also set up and appointed some five vice chairs…so that body will be the body that would be advising the CARICOM heads. “So you have your structure going forward. We also adopted the significant terms of reference for this Caribbean wide Commission and the conference ended with the public filming of the movie called ‘War’ a movie on Walter Rodney, the great Caribbean academic from Guyana.

Voor het volledig verslag: