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September 26, 2008


Screenshot from Paradise Omeros.

Isaac Julien isn’t your ordinary filmmaker; his films are not your ordinary films. If you come to an Isaac Julien film looking for conventional story, plot, action and characterisation, you will undoubtedly be frustrated. If, however, you engage an Isaac Julien film as an artistic experience – in much the same way you would experience a painting or other work of visual art – and in particular, if you experience it in the multi-screen installation form that many of his films take, you may find the experience much more rewarding.

Screenshot from Fantôme Afrique.

Last Thursday evening at the StudioFilmClub, a large crowd turned out as the second of two evenings of screenings of Isaac Julien’s films took place, as part of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. (The first was dedicated to a screening of Derek, Julien’s feature-length biopic of the late Derek Jarman.) This second evening was dedicated to a selection of Julien’s shorter works – Paradise Omeros, True North, Fantôme Afrique, Western Union: Small Boats, and Baltimore. They were shown in single screen format, not their original multi-screen versions; they were also screened one right after the other, giving the viewer less than ideal amount of time to properly digest what she or he had just seen (but how much time is ideal, anyway?).

Screenshot from True North.

Yet the five films almost all had overlapping themes and concerns – journeys and travellers, the plight of the migrant – and a number of them had at least one recurring character, giving them a palpable thread. They were also undeniably beautiful to watch: some of the images are still replaying themselves in my head over a day later. What all these images add up to, however, is something that cannot be said from a solitary viewing. Isaac Julien makes films, but he also makes art, and like the best art, they need to be experienced and re-experienced to be fully appreciated.

Isaac Julien.

Che Lovelace and Peter Doig, founders of StudioFilmClub.

Emilie Upczak, Associate Director of the TTFF, and Marina Salandy-Brown, Executive Director of the TTFF.

Sterling Henderson, journalist, and filmmaker Edmund Attong.

Artist Tessa Alexander.

Artist Dean Arlen makes a comment during the post-screening Q&A.;

Artist Mario Lewis.

Christopher Mendes, owner of the Reader’s Bookshop.

Isaac Julien and Judy Raymond, editor of the magazine Caribbean Beat.

ttff entries:


Caribbean films in progress to get boost from film market in Argentina

In an effort to bridge the Caribbean and Latin American film industries, the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) and the Caribbean Film Mart (CFM) are partnering with Ventana Sur to present five Caribbean feature films in post...
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Showcase of Caribbean films to screen at Edinburgh Short Film Festival

A package of short Caribbean films—all previous selections of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff)—will screen at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival (ESFF) on Saturday 14 November. The screenings of these short films for...
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Festival round-up: the bpTT Youth Jury and Prize

Five young people got the chance of lifetime when they sat on the bpTT youth jury at the 2015 trinidad + tobago film festival (ttff/15), which ran from September 15–29. The initiative was conceived in 2014, as a way of stimul...
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Caribbean films to screen at International Short Film Festival Mauritius

A package of five short Caribbean films—all previous selections of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff)—will screen at île Courts, the International Short Film Festival of Mauritius (ISFFM), which takes place from 6–...
by Jonathan


Film in focus: Vanishing Sail

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD The documentary Vanishing Sail, directed by Alexis Andrews, won the People’s Choice Award for Best Feature Documentary at the ttff/15. Our blogger, Aurora Herrera, attended the screening of the fil...
by Jonathan


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