October 2016

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Third-year UWI Film Production student Amir Aether Valen Ali’s short film, Who I Say I Am took home Best T+T Short Film – Documentary and United Nations T+T Award For Best Emerging Documentary Filmmaker at the trinidad+tobago film festival 2016 (ttff/16) awards on September 27 at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain.

Produced at the St. Augustine Campus, the 30-minute short film explores themes of individuality, spirituality, identity and self. Amir Aether Valen Ali devised the concept and throughout the film, he goes on a quest to discover what the names of people across all facets of society mean to them in relation to their identity, and how it influences their sense of self.

He describes his double win as a surreal experience, "When I started production in January 2016 I knew that I was taking a huge risk with the film, because it was based heavily around complex ideological concepts, but I was determined to create a great piece of art because of how important I felt the subject matter was to myself and society. The production of the film was a gruelling process that took almost a year to complete and once it was done, I was overjoyed. I never even thought about it being nominated especially among such a high calibre of filmmakers. When I heard my name called twice during the awards ceremony, I was humbled and grateful that my hard work in developing this passion project was recognised at this country’s highest level. Humbled, and grateful to be a part of it all."

This is the eleventh year that The UWI has been in partnered with the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) to showcase works of its students and staff. This year, nine student films were screened at The UWI Film Programme and new collaborations were forged with the Faculty of Law, the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) and the Faculty of Humanities and Education’s Department of Literary, Communication and Cultural Studies. About these ventures, Melvina Hazard, Director of Community Development, trinidad+tobago film festival stated, “We were thrilled and encouraged by the overwhelming response and attendance for ttff/16 at UWI. In addition to providing the UWI Film Programme with an exhibition platform to showcase works of its students and staff; we were especially pleased our with our partnerships with the Cultural Studies Department and the Institute for Gender and Development Studies and The Faculty of Law Administration to bring the directors and screenings of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and Every Cook Can Govern - The life, impact and works of CLR James. We are also happy to work with the Faculty of Humanities and Education and the British Council of Trinidad and Tobago to screen King Lear the Film as part of Shakespeare Lives’ commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and have the lead actor Don Warrington giving input to drama students, truly it was an invaluable experience. We look forward to working with the University for future collaborations as we continue our ongoing mission to use film as an impetus for public engagement and stimulating critical discourse.”

The UWI extends its congratulations to Amir Aether Valen Ali and all students and staff who participated in ttff/16 and look forward to seeing their names on the silver screen for years to come.