Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett????

Barbadian and Caribbean filmmakers have been encouraged to develop their own product to tell the story of the region and its contribution to the hemisphere.

The call came from Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, who cited the success of the African and Indian movies as products, which have developed their own niche market.

Speaking at the opening of the Caribbean Tales Film Festival Symposium at Hilton Barbados yesterday, he pointed out that in a short space of time the term "African movie" has become accepted in the Barbadian vernacular.

The Culture Minister noted that while the majority of these films were mass-produced, there was no doubt of their popularity among Barbadian viewers.

"Could it be that this popularity is sparked by the fact that they give Barbadians an opportunity to see themselves reflected on the screen? That they allow them to see situations which are often reminiscent of their own reality – the interaction between family members, between neighbours, for instance," he queried.

Mr. Blackett also maintained that seeking to attract American audiences should not be the primary goal of Caribbean film producers.

"We in the Caribbean [must] develop our own idiom. Our product must be easily identifiable… I am not sure that it would be a practical approach to try to reach the whole American market. Is such a goal attainable? Would we have the money to invest in such an undertaking?" he asked.

According to the Culture Minister, within the wider market there are many persons of African descent who would be able to relate to Caribbean films and would be willing audiences.????

He added that regional filmmakers should not be limited to the feature film Hollywood blockbuster model to recount the history of Caribbean people, but could utilise documentaries, docu-dramas, and television mini-series.

"The story of the people of the Caribbean has never been adequately told… Our filmmakers must document the story of the contribution which we in the region have made to the development, not only of this hemisphere, but also to the development of Europe," Mr. Blackett opined.

It is for this reason, he suggested, that his Ministry has sought to have the historic city of Bridgetown and its Garrison inscribed on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.

"We see that there is an imbalance that needs to be redressed. We have to start first of all by telling a balanced story of the region to ourselves, [and] to our young people, because we have been languishing for too long in an atmosphere of insecurity and inferiority," the Culture Minister stressed.

Mr. Blackett also revealed that the Cultural Industries Development Legislation would shortly be finalised and will address the provision of incentives to make investments in areas such as film worthwhile.??askeete@barbados.gov.bb

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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