January 2017

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Sustain T&T in collaboration with UWe Speak presented the Green Screen – The Environmental Film Festival Art x Activism films and panel discussion, the first of its kind, thanks to the expansion of the Green Screen Environmental Film Series into a 12-day Film Festival in November 2016.

Screenings of short films included Teach a Man directed by Carver Bacchus, Green Screen series founder and Horse directed by Ozy Merrique. The featured film was the documentary Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry directed by Alysson Klayman which is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.

Teach a Man highlights the plight of a fisherman in La Brea, south Trinidad. With beautiful images and candid interviews, it discusses the increasing difficulty fisherfolk face due to decreasing catches, pollution and fish kills and the resulting precariousness of their livelihoods. Horse explores the work and artistic practice of Damien Agostini. The artist works with ‘found’ wood and transforms them into one-of-a-kind sculptures. The film looks at conservation and recycling from a creative’s point of view.

The discussion that followed focused on how art and activism are connected for the panelists. Known social environmentalist Kemba Jaramogi, founder of Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project and Akilah’s Jewelry highlighted the importance of natural forest products similar to how she incorporates them in her jewelry which is constructed out of seeds and other organic materials. Jean-Claude Cournand, Director of the group The 2 Cents Movement discussed how his organisation uses spoken word and digital media to support the work of various non-profits, NGOs and smaller actors in the civil society space. Moderator Wendell Manwarren of the group 3 Canal elaborated on the background of art for communication and agitation through Carnival with J’ouvert, ole mas and rapso as examples.

Students were encouraged to get involved with an organisation on campus that they can support and help to grow. They were also asked to continue supporting similar organisations after graduation and bring that passion to their homes, communities and places of work. Members of The UWI community highlighted the ample spaces and opportunities for art and activism to come together on campus, however it rarely happens because of a somewhat apathetic attitude by students.

Speaking on the event, Green Screen Series founder Carver Bacchus stated, “The intersection of art and activism is important to us because we live in that space – creating and exhibiting films to catch the attention of our audiences and move them to action. Bringing this type of event to UWI, in conjunction with Bocas Lit Fest and 2 Cents, was an important step for us in building a relationship with the campus community and reigniting social and environmental awareness among students. We’re keen to establish a formal Sustain T&T presence on campus so this was a natural step toward building relationships to make that happen.”

All screenings took place at the Student Activity Centre on Campus.

For more about the Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, please visit their website http://greenscreentt.com/

Jeanette G. Awai is a freelance writer and Marketing and Communications Assistant at the Marketing and Communications Office