A film for Mr Biswas

Tracy Farrag: The most incredible thing about the festival is the amazing team. There is such a sense of connection and a willingness to extend themselves. - Mark Lyndersay
Tracy Farrag: The most incredible thing about the festival is the amazing team. There is such a sense of connection and a willingness to extend themselves. - Mark Lyndersay


My name is Tracy Farrag and I am the guest liaison of the TT Film Festival.

Farrag is spelt exactly like it sounds: like a distant piece of cloth. A far rag.

It’s an Egyptian name.

Most of my growing up was in Diego Martin, but the most significant part of my life was the part of my childhood in Belmont.

That’s my reference point for a lot of who I am. Playing moral. Sno-cone man coming around. Fresh mangoes and bananas at home and amazing people living around us. David Rudder lived up above my grandfather in Belmont.

Do I have a “Corn-vent accent”? Or do I just speak properly?

I started at Sacred Hearts Primary. Then Belmont Girls’ RC.

But, yes, I went to St Joseph’s Convent.

But I felt like a square peg in a round hole there. Maybe part of it was my family situation, but the school didn’t give me an outlet to discover who I was.

I don’t have a clear memory of when my parents divorced.

In those days, children weren’t told anything. You just moved with the current of life and didn’t know where you’d end up. Some days, a parent picked you up at school and you went with them.

My father didn’t have custody. We were with him while the legal battles were going on. So it was more like a case of kidnapping, I guess.

I am myself divorced and have one amazing son, Saif.

We moved back to Trinidad when he was about nine.

I was raised Roman Catholic and some of my real grounding in my beliefs started in St Francis Church in Belmont.

But some of the stuff just didn’t make sense. Like why God would create mysteries (to confuse) the very brain he created.

Fr David Olliviere, an amazing human being, told me, “Never let the church come in the way of your spirituality.” And that’s been my motto ever since.

Love, kindness and compassion for people should be the guiding principles of life.

I think God wants us to be happy and joyful. The God I love doesn’t want you to suffer. A lot of suffering is self-imposed.

After my first real job as a BWee flight attendant, I couldn’t do an eight-to-four job at all! On planes, it was always a new crew, new passengers, different destinations, different planes.

Tracy Farrag is the guest liaison of the TT Film Festival. - Mark Lyndersay

After Stockholm, Zurich, Toronto, Baltimore, I just couldn’t do an office job. The thought that I would have to see these people at the office for the entire week – and, come next Monday, it would be the same people again for the whole week – was too much for me.

I left BWee because I got married. I met my ex-husband on a flight. Kinda cliche for a BWee flight attendant.

I think we were married actively for, like, 16 years. We finally divorced after 19 or 20 years. I lost count. It wasn’t important at that point.

I’ve worked in video production. Corporate work has been the most consistent thing.

I was a coproducer on Sally’s Way, the first children’s feature film produced in Trinidad and Tobago.

And I am working with Mariel (Brown, TTFF director) on the documentary 1990.

Sally’s Way won the 2015 People’s Choice award, but I was at the Frankfurt Film Festival representing the film.

I’m a member of Filmco (the Filmmaker’s Collaborative of TT, festival organisers).

I worked at the last in-person festival in 2019.

My responsibility is to ensure travel and accommodations are booked and to look after the comfort and safety of the guests while they’re here.

It’s been stressful because the cost of tickets has gone up so much. A lot of our people are being put up at AirBnBs.

The Trinidad Hilton will be hosting the producer and director of our opening-night sold-out film, Cheese. Damian Marcano is making waves in Hollywood, directing for HBO.

The most incredible thing about the festival is the amazing team. There is such a sense of connection and a willingness to extend themselves.

We have a couple guys, but the majority are these amazing young women. I feel so honoured to be working with them. And so much communication! Information flows really freely!

And you can get help. Mariel is a great team leader.

The worst thing might be, you know, you create something as a filmmaker or someone in the industry and it’s really important to you, and sometimes, you can forget to check your ego at the door.

Maybe part of the reason we love the Carnival in Trinidad is the masquerade.

Because we’re not yet comfortable with who we are. So we feel comfortable when we mask ourselves in the Carnival.

I think maybe it’s time for us to see ourselves. And that’s the theme of this year’s festival: See Yourself.

As a woman in Trinidad, every time you have to go down the road, you have to plan what you’re wearing based on where you’re going. Kinda like a GPS, you have to calculate your route. And what would be okay to wear on the road. If you’re passing a construction site, say.

That’s a horrible thing. I’m fortunate to drive my own car, so I don’t have to live that way again, but I feel it for young women who have to take taxis and public transport. It’s terrible.

“Trinidad is not a real place” is so something I don’t like! I don’t subscribe to the thinking.

I know Trinidad is not perfect, but I will not be part of the group that brings it down more.

And so I deeply regret that I made a decision to tell my son, who is in final-year university in Florida, that he should try to find a job abroad. I never imagined I would be saying that.

What is a Trini?

When I lived in the UAE, one of the mothers at my son’s school said, “How come you’re so nice?” It blew my mind.

I think I’m just kind of regular-nice, for a Trini. Nothing so great. Until you see yourself through somebody else’s eyes, you often don’t appreciate yourself.

It made me think of the film festival’s theme this year: See Yourself. And how many ways we need to see ourselves, our beauty, our creativity, our leggo, our drama, our bacchanal. And just love ourselves.

Instead, there is so much judgment! The judgment is what is killing us.

I am who I am because of Trinidad and Tobago. This country is my mother. This is the womb I developed in.

And that’s why I love David Rudder. Everything that he writes is symbolic of that. He sees the sides that are not great. But he’s very clear about what is beautiful and good.

We should be saying good things about ourselves.

The TT Film Festival runs from September 22-28.



"A film for Mr Biswas"

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