By Laura 'Simply Leah' McNeil
The 2019 CaribbeanTales International Film Festival’s 14th year was filled with gems. Many things to be learned through the stories that were chosen to be told through film. On music night CTFF took the opportunity to uncover a hidden gem.
This presentation was also a reminder of how much African/Caribbean history is still yet to be uncovered. To start the night off we were presented with a short film entitled Antonio Norales: Garifuna Guardian, which was directed by Walker Simon. After watching this film I was amazed at how much one can learn in a mere seven minutes.
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Antonio Norales, our star and narrator proved that sometimes seven minutes is all it takes. To be clear we didn’t learn everything during this short time, however, our eyes were opened to a part of history that most would never know. In this short film, we were introduced to The Garifuna people through Antonio Norales who is a descendent. He has made it his mission to ensure that they are never forgotten. The Garifuna people are a mix of African and indigenous people from the island of St. Vincent, and were eventually exiled to South America by the British. While there are many interesting facts shared with us through Antonio’s story, the most interesting to me was the fact that the Garifuna people were never enslaved. They spent 30 years battling the British, while inhabiting St. Vincent and the story of how they did this is shared through the traditional Waranagua dance. Once you see this film, you will realize that the Garifuna people have also been depicted many times in films over the years.
There weren’t many elements of cinematography to this short film, however the story Antonio shared seemed to do the trick. Antonio did a great job at making the viewer feel like they were part of a one on one conversation. I suppose that would be the reason that it was decided to keep the production as simple as possible. At some points, it was as though I was watching a home movie with the only difference being that the camera was being held steadily. With all that said, sometimes less is in fact more. In a perfect world, the film would have been a few minutes longer so that we could have a better understanding of the Waranagua dance, but like I said before, it was straight to the point.
Overall, enough doors were opened in this short film to warrant a look into history. If I had to ask the director Walker Simon or Antonio Norales what they wanted the viewer to walk away with from this film, it would be that. It was just enough information to spark our interest while promoting the tradition. I definitely walked away from this film eager to get my research on and I have no doubt that it will do the same to you. The 2019 CaribbeanTales International film festival has definitely done an excellent job of living up to the theme ‘A New Day’ thus far.
*Editor’s note: Antonio Norales: Garifuna Guardian was screened at the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival ‘19