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Friday 18 October 2019
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AS TOLD TO BC PIRES

My name is Bruce Paddington, named after the bear or the train station, and I founded the TT Film Festival.

I started the TTFF in 2006 with my friend and colleague Annabelle Alcazar, in 2006.

I’ve always been at the helm. But now I’m ready to hand it over to the next generation.

I emigrated as a young man and am a TT national.

But I was born in England and grew up in the seaside resort of Southsea, Portsmouth.

Trinidad couldn’t have been more different than Portsmouth: the sea was warm and there was sand, not pebbles, on the beach.

And one can eat bake and shark rather than cockles and mussels.

My first school was the Southsea Odeon cinema, where I attended Saturday morning screenings of adventure serials.

I also went to Portsmouth Grammar School, Dauntseys School (a boarding school somehow paid for by my working-class father) where I ran a sixth-form film society, Middlesex University and the Maria Grey Teacher Training College, where I made Super 8 films.

I love old cinemas. It is a shame that such classic cinemas as Deluxe, Strand and Globe are empty.

The country needs a dedicated art cinema to provide an alternative to the multiplexes (with their) cartoons and blockbusters.

I love sports.

I tried boxing once and the fight was stopped in the first round.

I lost.

Bruce Paddington is the founder of the TT Film Festival. PHOTO BY MARK LYNDERSAY

As a teenager in the 60s, I was exposed to powerful British New Wave films like If by Linsey Anderson and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Tony Richardson.

My interest in Caribbean cinema started at a screening of The Harder They Come in Brixton, where the audience was dancing in the aisles.

My favorite films include Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Rue Cases Negres by Euzhan Palcy, Lucia by Humberto Solas and Ava and Gabriel by Felix de Rooy.

My favourite local film has to be Bim. Raoul Pantin’s script is (still) quite contemporary in how it dealt with racial issues. There is a sequence where Bim is involved with human trafficking, but of “small islanders,” not Venezuelans.

Raoul Peck, Woody Allen, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are amongst my favourite directors.

A successful 2002 Kairi film festival at the Deluxe (assisted by Patti-Anne Ali, supported by Charlotte Elias) (led to) the TTFF in 2006, one of the recommendations of the strategic plan that established the TT Film Company.

Carla Foderingham, Fred Thornhill and La Shawn Prescott all played important roles. The TTFC chair, the extremely talented actor, Ralph Maraj, suggested the festival be named the TTFF; he felt Kairi was a bit “hippy-ish.”

The TTFF’s success was achieved through such film enthusiasts as Marina Salandy-Brown, Emily Upczak, Jonathan Ali, Melanie Archer, Nneka Luke and Magella Moreau.

Along with Annabelle Alcazar, who played a critical role.

Bruce Paddington
PHOTO BY MARK LYNDERSAY

The last books I enjoyed were the short biography of Beryl McBurnie by Judy Raymond and Golden Child by Claire Adam.

I also enjoy books by Mario Vargas Llosa, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, Martin Carter and, of course, Walcott and Naipaul.

I have two left feet and don’t dance, but I have too many musicians and bands to choose a favourite from: the Beatles, Kassav, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bob Marley, Silvio Rodriquez, Omara Portuondo, Mercedes Soda, Sparrow, Rudder, Etienne Charles, Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi.

I really like Savannah Grass by Kes, including the piano version by Johanna Chuckaree.

I produced the first documentary on Machel Montano, when he was Too Young to Soca.

The bumper film festival year was 2015, when we were well-funded and received a substantial international grant from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States/European Union.

We invited 100-plus international guest filmmakers and industry professionals, screened 100-plus films, including ten Caribbean classics, held a Caribbean film mart and launched a 500-plus Caribbean film database in three languages and premiered Bazodee, starring Machel Montano. Who is not a bad actor.

This year, Carifesta has asked us to not charge (admission) and that rules out MovieTowne.

But we are not always in a cinema, anyway, with openings at the Central Bank, Queen’s Hall and NAPA and screenings at the Little Carib.

I like to talk of triumphs, not woes, but fundraising is the bane of every artist. Governments have been very supportive.

But we would like the festival to be a line item in the budget and the private sector to continue to assist us with three-year contracts, so we don’t start from scratch every year.

It is important for any organisation to work on succession planning and, after 14 festivals, it’s time for new blood.

The festival will be taken over by the Film Collaborative, a not-for-profit organisation steered by four talented local film professionals, who programmed and administered this year’s event.

TTFF will become a not-for-profit organisation and I will be available as a consultant or professor emeritus, but that will be their decision.

I have lots of other plans for the future.

Selfish, angry, divisive people make me miserable. Kind, loving, caring, generous people cheer me up.

And bake and shark at Maracas. And hugging my beautiful grandchildren.

When I’m away, I miss the friendliness of the majority of Trinis. Every day I buy my fruit from Mark. And my papers from Johnny. And we chat about sport. And people say good morning.

This year’s film festival is going to be as great as ever. Film Co are doing a great job.

We’re screening three feature-length films (Grace and Saleem, She Paradise and Queen of Soca) commissioned by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts for Carifesta.

A Trini is a person who can stand in the road, eat doubles, drink a coconut water and listen to pan.

Many Trinis live abroad but they carry their country in their hearts and miss it badly.

TT means home to me.

Read the full version of this feature on Wednesday at www.BCPires.com

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