Barbadian Filmmaker Wins Big at Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival

Barbadian filmmaker Shakirah Bourne reaped success at the 2013 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival when she won the Republic Bank of Canada’s (RBC) Focus Pitch Prize. This was announced during the festival’s awards gala at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad.

Collecting her grand prize of TT$20,000, an elated Shakirah declared, "I was very surprised when I was announced the winner, I felt so honoured to have won and to have been chosen from a group of such talented people, because some of them already have successful feature films, are commissioned writers by top US film production studios and have years of filmmaking experience."

Collecting her grand prize of TT $20,000, an elated Shakirah declared, “I was very surprised when I was announced the winner, I felt so honoured to have won and to have been chosen from a group of such talented people, because some of them already have successful feature films, are commissioned writers by top US film production studios and have years of filmmaking experience.”

The filmmaker noted she had initially participated in the RBC Focus Filmmaker’s Immersion Development Programme which gave Caribbean filmmakers the opportunity to obtain firsthand information from experienced film professionals. Participants were introduced to a range of topics including: the artistic side of narrative filmmaking, the filmmaker’s creative voice and storytelling capabilities.

Following the workshop, she then pitched a concept for a “caper comedy called One Way Ticket“. “My film is about a winning lottery ticket that connects the lives of seven strangers, exposing the lengths each would go to for love, revenge and survival,” she explained.

Shakirah, who is also the scriptwriter of the Bajan movie PAYDAY, which is currently being screened in Barbadian cinemas, explained that winning the RBC Focus Filmmaker's Pitch Prize was her "first validation as a filmmaker from a prestigious body such as the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival".

Shakirah, who is also the scriptwriter of the Bajan movie PAYDAY, which is currently being screened in Barbadian cinemas, explained that winning the RBC Focus Filmmaker’s Pitch Prize was her “first validation as a filmmaker from a prestigious body such as the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival“.

I pitched to industry experts who represent A-list Hollywood actors, festivals such as the Slamdance Film Festival and the LA Film Festival... and they all thought my story was great.

“I am very delighted that the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival has invested in this Barbadian feature film. I think this win shows that there is regional and international support for Bajan films, so hopefully support will come from Barbados as well,” the 27-year-old filmmaker stressed, adding she was hoping to raise more funds to start production next year.

"Caribbean stories need to be told, and this win shows that Barbadians and Caribbean people must to tell their stories and stop feeling that they need to mimic other cultures," she insisted.

Caribbean stories need to be told, and this win shows that Barbadians and Caribbean people must to tell their stories and stop feeling that they need to mimic other cultures,” she insisted.

The panel of judges included Director of the Slamdance Film Festival, Dan Mirvish; Programmer for the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Hebe Tabachnik; and Vice President of Global Public Relations Agency, Rogers and Cowan, Dennis Dembia.

External Relations Director at ttff, Nneka Luke said five filmmakers were selected from the workshop to participate in the competition. She pointed out that they all demonstrated the ability to craft compelling, character-driven stories that touched on themes relevant to contemporary Caribbean society.

These stories are as diverse in content and genre as the participants themselves; projects range from drama to comedy to even horror. The TT$20,000 cash award at the end of Focus – which is what the value of the award has been since the inception of the initiative in 2011 – is merely one element of what winning Focus could potentially mean for a filmmaker and his or her project,” Ms. Luke said.

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